UPDATED: Sussex County Council Fills BOA Vacancy & Discusses Comp Plan Priorities

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UPDATED – 6pm – Today’s Sussex County Council meeting started as most meetings do – with public comment. However this week, Jim Martin of Shepherd’s Office in Georgetown asking the County Council to amend the housing code to make tiny houses legal. He told the county that for the working poor – there is nothing available in Sussex County for under $900 a month and that the county is becoming a place for visitors and second homeowners.

County Finance Director, Gina Jennings had an ordinance amendment related to pension benefits that went for a public hearing this morning. She explained that this ordinance puts what the county does in practice in writing to be sent to the IRS to get a determination letter showing the county has a qualified pension plan. This insures that employees are not taxed on the contributions the county makes to the pension plan. There were several questions from the council members but no comments from the public and the ordinance amendment was approved with a unanimous vote.

There’s a new member on the County Board of Adjustment. The County Council held a public interview for nominee John Williamson of Dagsboro. He was approved by the council with a 5 to 0 vote and joins the BOA immediately. He fills the vacancy created when Bruce Mears was appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission to fill Doug Hudson’s seat when he was sworn in as a County Councilman in January. Williamson’s term ends in June of 2020.

The new Comprehensive Plan may be with the State right now, but it’s not yet completed. The State has come back with several updates that it wants the county to consider. However, in anticipation of the Comp Plan being approved by the state, the County is now beginning to work on the items that were developed while the plan was being crafted. The county is now discussing it’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan priorities, however County Administrator, Todd Lawson told the Council that there are over 300 individual action items within the plan – way to much to narrow down into strategies to be worked in order of importance. The strategies have been organized by theme and narrowed to 30 categories and 72 action items with the top items – affordable housing and workforce housing, buffers and wetlands and then followed by Roads and DelDOT, Economic Development, Open Space, Agriculture and Telecommunications. This discussion will continue.

Subdivisions are a topic rarely seen before the County Council. They are decided and approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission and only end up before the County Council on appeal. However the ordinance pertaining to cluster subdivisions has been brought for amendment by Councilman IG Burton, who has been a member of the Planning Commission as well as a County Councilman – in an effort to undo changes that the County Council made to the ordinance in 2008, which rendered it ineffective. The proposed ordinance amendment would remove an option to choose the superior design, and make it mandatory, as it was in the original ordinance. The Council introduced the ordinance – it will be scheduled for public hearings before both the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Council before it is voted on.

There is no Sussex County Council meeting next week because of the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference, which is next week in Washington, DC. The Council will again be in session on March 12 at 10am in the County Offices on the Circle in Georgetown.

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The Sussex County Council will hold a public interview for a nominee to the Board of Adjustment, John Williamson.  His name was suggested for the vacant spot last week by Councilman Doug Hudson.  The Council will also discuss priorities of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.  County Planning Director Janelle Cornwell will discuss with the council a proposed ordinance amendment on cluster subdivisions.  And they will receive a demonstration of Public Access and Building Code Inspection software.  The County Council meets at 10am at the County Administration offices on the Circle in Georgetown.

Click here for the full meeting agenda         Click here for the full meeting packet