Sussex County Delaware

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Sussex County Council ...

Council Hears Plans for
372-Unit RPC on Rt. 54

SC Online Content Editor

GEORGETOWN -- Sussex County Council heard an application for a rezoning for a 372-home development and shopping center on Route 54 west of Fenwick Island but took no action on the application on Tuesday, July 9, 2002.

The proposed housing development would be located on 109 acres about one-half mile east of Sussex Road 381 (Old Mill Bridge Road). The property has been owned since 1947 by the Swann family.

The adjacent shopping center would include a 55,000 sq. ft. grocery store, 8,000 square feet of additional retail space, and three pad sites, whose size has not been determined.

The county Planning and Zoning Commission recommended on June 27 that the council approve both rezoning applications regarding the project: changing 10 acres from AR-1 (agricultural-residentia)l to B-1 (neighborhood business) and 109 acres from AR-1 to medium-residential/residential planned community (MR-RPC).

James Fuqua, attorney for the applicants, Trout, Segall & Doyle Co. and Gladys Swann, said two entrances are planned -- one main entrance for the commercial and residential projects from Route 54 and a side entrance to the development off Sussex Road 381.

Both the shopping center, to be called Fenwick Plaza, and the housing development, to be called Swann Cove, will be served by county sewer service and by Artesian Water Co.

Part of the site borders on Dirickson Creek, which empties into the Little Assawoman Bay. According to a study by project engineer Craig Ward, the conversion of the site from agricultural to residential will reduce the amount of nutrient runoff into the bay.

County council member George Cole questioned whether there is a need for a large grocery store in the area. The applicant's response was that with at least 2,350 new home sites planned in the area, there is definitely a need for more stores such as groceries.

The proposed development is about a mile east of the area approved for 1,700 homes to be known as Americana Bayside.

Fuqua said the application falls in line with other projects recently approved in the area. He also said the project does not include any wetlands.

While no one spoke in opposition to the project at the hearing, two letters were read in opposition to the number of homes proposed. One compared the proposal to the Bunting & Gray project that would put in roughly the same number of homes but on twice as much land.

Conditions of approval suggested by the planning commission include that there be no motorized boat launch in the community, that there be a 50-foot buffer between the edge of Dirickson Creek and the project, that there be no interconnection with the Magnolia Shores development, that the developer be limited to 60 homes per year, and that each phase will be subject to site plan review. Recreational facilities would be required to be completed within two years of the first building permit.

The council deferred its decision on the applications until council member Lynn Rogers, who was absent for the first part of the hearing, can review the audio tape of it.

Council Approves Voter Redistribution ...

Sussex County Council approved the redistribution of nine "pockets" of voters into existing districts.

Director of the Sussex County Department of Election, Kenneth McDowell, said the move will save the county $360,000 over 10 years because the county will not have to provide separate workers, polling places and voting machines for the diminutive districts.

The "nips and tucks" were done in order to match the county districts up with the state House of Representatives and Senate districts, which were recently redrawn. They were necessary at this time, McDowell said, because the state redistricting was done a year later than normal.

"In no way should this be a reflection on Sussex County Council," McDowell said.

County Attorney Eugene Bayard stressed that the earlier county districts were not invalid, and that Tuesday's move was merely a cost-saving measure for county residents following the state redistricting.

McDowell said voter lists should be available for the new districts by July 26, and that maps would be available this week from the Department of Election.

County Administrator Robert Stickels said a map would be displayed in the lobby of the County Administration Building on The Circle in Georgetown.

In a related matter, county council member George Cole asked McDowell whether anything had been done to resolve the issue of as many as 30 percent of voter addresses having been incorrect in the last election.

McDowell said much of the problem lies in the fact that addresses come from the state Department of Motor Vehicles, and that as many as 25 percent of those are wrong. That is a result of addresses being incorrectly given by residents and incorrectly taken by DMV workers, he said.

"A lot of people don't know where they live," McDowell said.

In addition, many addresses are inadequate because they dont' reflect the fact that the residence is on a private lane off another road. In addition, he said, up to 15 percent of Sussex County residents move four or five times a year. "That's a lot of people moving," he said.

Jack Owens Acknowledged ...

Kenneth McDowell, director of the Sussex County Department of Election, acknowleged the death of Jack Owens, a co-founder of the Delaware Technical and Community College's Georgetown Campus, on Monday, July 8.

Owens, McDowell said, "was always good to Sussex elections. I found him to be a real people person, a real believer in our election process, our government process," McDowell said.

McDowell added that Owens had always helped the elections department with education of election workers.

Owens came to Sussex County in 1967 from Greenville Technical School in South Carolina. During his 28 years at Delaware Tech, the school grew to 7 buildings and 12,000 students. He retired as the school's administrator in 1995. The Georgetown campus was named after him upon his retirement.

Owens' daughter, Dr. Jacquelyn O. Wilson, was recently named Prinicipal of the Year in the state of Delaware for 2002. She is principal at Lord Baltimore Elementary School. The Ocean View school was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education last year.

Owens was 72 years old.

A viewing will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, July 10, at Grace Methodist Church in Georgetown. The funeral service will follow. The family suggests donations to the Jack F. Owens Scholarship Fund at Delaware Technical & Community College.

In Other Business ...
  • Council reappointed two members of the county Planning Commission and a Board of Adjustment member. Reappointed to the planning commission were John Allen and W. Layton Johnson; reappointed to the board of adjustment was Ronald G. McCabe. Allen was nominated by council vice president Lynn Rogers; Johnson was nominated by council president Finley Jones; and McCabe was nominated by council member George Cole.

  • Approved a request from the town of Slaughter Beach to provide enforcement of the town's flood zone ordinance. Cynthia Longobardi, representing the town, told the council the town was in danger of losing federal flood insurance if it failed to enforce the ordinance.

  • Approved a $369,000 contract with Delta Airport Consultants for the redesign of an abandoned runway at the Sussex County Airport. The county will pay 5 percent of the contract.

  • Announced the grand opening of the new airport terminal and restaurant in Georgetown, to be held Tuesday, July 16 at 9 a.m.

  • Set a hearing on an ordinance formalizing fees in the Recorder of Deeds office for Aug. 6 at 11a.m.

  • Approved the replacement of three bank accounts dealing with Community Development Block Grants with three new ones.

  • Approved a change order for the new airport building refunding abou $900 to the county, because Jimmy's Flying Grille will install its own exhaust system in the restaurant's kitchen.

  • Discussed the need for an access road at the county-owned James Farm Ecological Preserve near Ocean View, in light of the marsh fire at the site on Saturday. The county leases the 180-acre site to the Center for the Inland Bays. Stickels said preliminary reports suggest the fire may have been started either by two men seen leaving the area prior to the fire, or by someone on a pontoon boat who dumped the contents of a hibachi grill on the property.

  • The council approved the following grant requests:

    • New Coverday Outreach Mission Inc. -- $550 for a handicapped access ramp;

    • Sussex Conservation District -- $100 for the Delaware Association of Conservation Districts' Northeast Regional meeting at Dover Downs;

    • Delaware Safe Kids Coalition -- $500 for Safe Kids Day

    • City of Seaford -- $500 for the city's annual Community Night Out;

    • Selbyville Public Library -- $500 for the library's renovation project;

    • Town of Milton -- Up to $400 for portable toilets for the town's park.

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