Sussex County Delaware

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Sussex County Council ...

County OKs $500,000
for Farm Preservation

By KERIN MAGILL
SC Online Content Editor

GEORGETOWN -- Sussex County Council voted unanimously to contribute up to $500,000 to the state Farmland Preservation Program at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct, 2, 2002.

County Administrator Robert Stickels said the county plans to match private funds raised by the Sussex County Land Trust. Of the $500,000 possible contribution by the county, Stickels said $300,000 would come from the county's buildng permit revenues and $200,000 from Industrial Revenue Bond fees paid to the county.

Stickels said the county's contribution is based on revenue projections for the remainder of the fiscal year.

For example, Stickels announced that Carl M. Freeman Associates had requested the county to authorize the issuance of up to $78 million in Industrial Revenue Bonds for the Americana Bayside development west of Fenwick Island.

Estimated county revenues from that bond issue would be $220,000, according to Stickels. "I don't think we'll have a shortfall. I feel comfortable with these numbers," Stickels said.

Land Trust board member Preston Schell told the council he is confident the group can raise at least $200,000 by December, which is when state agriculture preservation officials said they would need a commitment from the county.

Council Discusses Land Use Plan

The consultant shepherding the Sussex County Council through the process of updating its Comprehensive Land Use Plan named several "key points" to be resolved before the plan is approved.

Thomas Shafer of Shafer Consulting said the council needs to address the Environmentally Sensitive Developing Areas, the Development Districts, the Town Centers, and "how we characterize" each of those areas. He also said the map that identifies each of those areas needs to be addressed.

Shafer spoke at a council workshop Tuesday, Oct. 8, about concerns expressed by the Association of Coastal Towns -- a group of coastal mayors -- about limiting densities in the ESDA to 2 units per acre.

He also said the Citizens Coalition remains concerned about areas that were not included in the Environmentally Sensitive Developing Areas, specifically areas north and west of the Rehoboth Beach-Lewes area. Shafer reminded the council that the county Planning and Zoning Commission rejected that idea.

The Environmentally Sensitive Develping Area, surrounding the Inland Bays, has been targeted for special consideration in the face of tremendous development pressure in an effort to preserve the area's natural resources.

Several residents also urged the council at an Oct. 1 workshop to designate the Nanticoke River Watershed as an Environmentally Sensitive Developing Area.

During the two-hour workshop meeting Oct. 8, the council also discussed some of the ordinances that will be required to back up the proposed land use plan update, addressing such areas as requiring all permits to be in place before any site work is done, buffer zone requirements, and possible changes in minimum lot sizes in the Environmentally Sensitive Developing Areas.

The county has until Dec. 31 to complete its land use plan update. Another workshop will be held Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 1:30 p.m. in council chambers. Public comment is not being accepted at the workshops, but the public is welcome to attend. The meeting can also be monitored via the Internet at www.sussexcounty.net.

Cole Calls for New Sewer Fee Formula

Sussex County Councilman George Cole said he believes the county's current manner of assessing sewer fees is unfair.

As he has before, Cole argued the front footage assessments are unfair to homeowners who have large lots versus those with similar-sized homes on smaller lots. "There's got to be a fairer way," Cole said.

Cole's comments were focused on the Cedar Neck Sanitary Sewer District, in which he lives, although he has made similar comments regarding front foot assessments in other areas. Users in Cedar Neck will pay $6.99 per front foot. Users in the Miller Creek district will pay $7.94 per foot of road frontage.

In Other Business ...
  • All Sussex County libraries will be closed Thursday, Oct. 10 so staff members may take part in a training session. Libraries will reopen Friday, Oct. 11.

  • Council approved the following ordinances:
    • Authorizing the issuance of up to $2.6 million in general obligation bonds for construction of the Bay View Estates and Sea Country Estates sewer districts west of Fenwick Island; and

    • Authorizing the issuance of up to $6.75 million in general obligation bonds for construction of the Miller Creek sewer system.

  • Council approved the following grant requests:
    • Roxana Volunteer Fire Company -- $250 for rescue tools and supplies.


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