Sussex County has taken part in the 22nd round of the Delaware Agricultural Land Preservation Program. The County Council voted in May to take part in latest round of easement purchases and approved spending just over $536,000 as its share of the $1.3-million cost to protect 10 farms and nearly 800 acres in Sussex County. Properties selected were determined by the Agland Preservation Foundation Board – not by the County Council – County’s participation contributed funding and indicated properties that might be selected. Sussex County farms provided nearly 74% discount for the easement purchases. Statewide, development rights for 41 farms were purchased for a total of 3534 acres. Since 2003 – Sussex County has contributed $2.1-m for 2800 acres preserved.
The Council is in the process of appointing a new member to the Planning & Zoning Commission with the impending retirement of District 5 member Marty Ross. The process to do this is seeing some change. Councilman Rob Arlett says a new application for those interested has been created – and will be available on the county’s website. He says that three people have applied for the opening, those applications will go to the councilman whose district has the opening and the County Administrator – and then is shared with the rest of the council. For this appointment, the Council still has questions to be answered but expect to announce a candidate next week. The candidate will have a public interview during the council meeting – after that the council will vote. County Administrator Todd Lawson says that with this application – there are some limitations – in residency, political party affiliation and location of the entire commission make up based on the councilmanic districts. With this application – the candidate cannot be a Republican as commission GOP members are maxed out.
Trash has been a constant topic among the County Council members. This week Government Affairs Manager, Michael Costello, announced a new partnership with the Department of Corrections and DelDOT to allocate County funds to boost cleanup efforts already undertaken by the State on Sussex County roads. Sussex County will pay $120,000 to cover overtime costs for correctional officers to supervise inmate work crews on supplemental cleanup jobs – which will be on an as-needed basis that is driven by constituent complaints. DelDOT will supply garbage bags and pickup after a roadway has been cleaned. The agreement is spelled out in a Memorandum of Understanding that has been approved by Sussex County and the DOC.
Click here to report roadside trash – http://www.sussexcountyde.gov/litter-report
A public hearing was held on the Sussex Shores Chapter 96 Sussex Community Improvement Project for utilities and roads near Bethany Beach. Only one person spoke during the public hearing, attorney Rob Witsil who represented the Sussex Shores homeowners association. He says that this project placed utility lines underground – no transmission poles are seen, roads have been repaved and drainage improved. However Director of Special Projects, Patricia Deptula read in a comment that was received by phone from a resident of Pilothouse Condos who wanted to go on record that she feels their condo association does not benefit from the roads and should not be included in the assessment. The Council voted to approve the Assessment Roll with a 4 to 0 vote. Councilman George Cole deferred his vote because of a conflict.
Forty-one county employees have won customer service awards in the 2nd Quarter. Finance Director Gina Jennings singled out the three finalists during this week’s council meeting. Honorable mentions go to Denise Draper in the Constable’s Office and Renee Davidson in the Collection’s Division. The 2nd Quarter winner is Joel Marshall in Mapping and Addressing.
The Sussex County Council also unanimously approved the Diamond Acres Streetlighting District. Residents of Diamond Acres near Dagsboro voted 11 to 5 (out of 22 eligible voters) to approve the installation of 7 street lights by Delaware Electric Cooperative, which will cost residents just over $69 annually.
In Old Business, the council revisited Change of Zone No 1846. The application was filed on behalf of CMF Bayside, LLC requesting a Change of Zone from AR-1 to MR-RPC Medium Density Residential District – Residential Planned Community for over 71 acres. While they would be increasing acreage with the removal of a large pond it would actually decrease density. The pond was not required for stormwater management. The council approved the Change of Zone by a 3 to 2 vote – Councilmen IG Burton and George Cole did not support the application.
The County Council has two public hearings in the afternoon session – both are conditional use applications. One is for vehicle storage and car sales near the intersection of Vines Creek and Armory Roads in Dagsboro. The other is for a event venue on over 25 acres on Blackwater Road in the area of Burbage Road east of Frankford.
There were two public hearings in the afternoon session. After hearing from both applicants the County Council has deferred a vote on both conditional use applications pending additional information.