Sussex County Council Approves a Voluntary Clean Energy Financing Program & Ordinance Amendment on Cluster Subdivisions in the Coastal Area


Last week, the Sussex County Council heard about the Delaware Voluntary Clean Energy Financing Program from Tony DiPrima of Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility. The program provides loans that focus on projects that include energy efficiency, renewable energy measures, and are limited by a property’s assessed value. The loan is paid annually as part of a property’s tax bill. This would finance eligible clean energy improvements to qualifying commercial, industrial, agricultural, and multifamily housing (containing five or more dwelling units), non-profit and agricultural properties. The County has approved the program and a Statute establishes commercial property assessed clean energy financing in the State of Delaware.

The Council heard from Brad Whaley about the Community Development Block Grant program. This program aids low and moderate income Sussex Countians with housing issues – from handicap ramps to emergency situations like no heat. His department has met with all the county’s towns and cities who have made requests for help from the program. Rural communities are also included. The funding comes from HUD to the State, however the Sussex County Council makes the application for the Community Development funds to the Delaware State Housing Authority. The Sussex County Council approved the authorization to submit applications as well as a Fair Housing resolution.

A public hearing was held on an ordinance amendment that would make what is in the Coastal Area – basically to the east of Route 113 – match what is in the rest of Sussex County in terms of what is required for a cluster subdivision in all AR-1 zoning districts. The Planning & Zoning Commission recommended approval of the ordinance.

Several people spoke in favor of the ordinance, but Rich Barasso of SARG (Sussex Alliance for Responsible Growth) recommended the removal of the word “design” from the ordinance, which Assistant County Attorney Vince Robertson previously told the Council he would have no issue with. Ring Lardner and Chris Bason also supported the ordinance.

Council Vice President John Rieley made a motion to remove “design” from the ordinance which was approved with a 5 to 0 vote. The amended ordinance, which now makes cluster subdivisions on the east side of Route 113 requires to meet the same standards as the west side of Route 113, was also approved with a unanimous vote.