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County Council
Denies Boca East

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GEORGETOWN -- Sussex County Council rejected the application of Boca East LLC for a 508-unit community with assisted living facilities at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2002.

Council rejected the application 3-2, with Council President Finley B. Jones casting the decisive "no" vote after Councilmen George Cole and Lynn Rogers had voted no and Councilmen Vance Phillips and Dale Dukes had voted yes.

Developers sought to rezone 258 acres northeast of Road 279, 9/10 of a mile southeast of Road 277, from agricultural/residential to medium residential/residential planned community.

The development, accessible on both of those roads from Route 24, was to include 123 lots, 182 cottages, 153 apartments and 50 assisted living units, as well as on-site mail and prescription services and a beauty salon.

Jones, like Rogers and Cole, cited concerns about the lack of adequate roads to support the project. Cole found fault with the state planning office's assumption that seniors living in the age-restricted community would add less traffic to surrounding roads than one that housed all ages. "Seniors in the resort areas are much more active" than those in other areas, he said.

County Administrator Robert Stickels also pointed out that the community would not be served by public transportation. There was, however, a shuttle service planned for Boca East, which would have taken residents to shopping and town centers.

The vote backed the recommendation of denial from the Planning & Zoning Commission, which voted 5-0 in June to recommend rejection. At a public hearing held May 9 before the planning commission, 44 people spoke in opposition to the project and 5 in favor of it.

Councilman Lynn Rogers said he had received a large number of phone calls from residents urging him to vote down the rezoning application. He said he personally had driven the roads surrounding the site and had concerns about the amount of traffic the project would add to them.

"My concern is the traffic," he said. "Until DelDOT fixes the major problems ... on this road, I can't support it."

Rogers, while supporting the concept of more assisted living facilities in the county, said that DelDOT's statement that road improvements were not planned in that area for at least the next 7 to 11 years, his own experiences with public safety on the road, and the comments from his constituents, led him to vote against the proposal.

Jones, in his tie-breaking vote, said he agreed the site was not appropriate for the project. "The roads are not great, to say the least," Jones said.

The Planning & Zoning Commission, in its recommendation, also cited the lack of adequate roadways in its decision.

The county council also cited an agreement with DNREC to restrict growth in areas west of Rehoboth Beach not served by county sewer.

In his dissenting vote, Dukes said he believed the Planning & Zoning Commission erred in its analysis of the proposal. He said the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control supports spray irrigation, and that the project is in an area targeted for growth by the state.

He pointed out that "as recently as 2001, the state elected not to buy that site," and that the developers had owned the property since 1985. Dukes also said the planning commission had incomplete information when it denied the rezoning application on June 13.

County employees get accolades

Efforts by two county employees were recognized by national organizations recently, and they both were further recognized by County Council on Aug. 6.

Heather Sheridan, who manages the South Coastal Wastewater Treatment Facility near Ocean View, recently received the W. McLean Bingley Award for distinguished achievements in wastewater services.

The award recognizes excellence across the region, and Sheridan, who has traveled to China in efforts to share her knowledge of the field, in turn acknowledged her staff for its efforts.

"This award represents the hard work of the entire team," Sheridan said. She also thanked the county council for its continued funding of sewer projects.

Also recognized was Lt. Jeff Christopher of the county Sheriff's Department, who received the Medal of Merit Award from the National Sheriffs Association. Sheriff Robert Reed presented the award to Christopher at the council meeting.

In Other Business ...
  • The County Council approved utility agreements for the Village Shopping Center at the Village of Five Points, Canal Corkran, Phase III, and the Village at Bear Trap Dunes, Phase III.

  • Council approved the following grant requests:
    • Delaware Dairy Princess Committee of Sussex County -- $300 for promotional literature;

    • Milford Parks and Recreation Department -- $500 for the Mispillion River Festival;

    • Slam Softball Team -- $250 for travel to national championships; and
    • Apple-Scrapple Festival -- $650 for the annual Bridgeville event.

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