Sussex County Council Consider Several Airport/Business Park Leases & Defer on Ocean View area Apartment Complex

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After a 2 week break for Thanksgiving, the Sussex County Council was back in session this week. This is the next to last meeting before the New Year.

The Council reappointed Diana Young to the Library Advisory Board with a unanimous vote. Her new term will expire on 6/30/2022.

County Administrator Todd Lawson commented on Monday night’s 36th Annual Caroling on the Circle – which, because of weather, was held at the Georgetown Fire House. He said hundreds of carolers took part and the county has so far collected over 26,000 canned and non-perishable food items which will be distributed to Sussex Countians in need through local food pantries. The collection pod will remain in place in front of the County offices on the Circle in Georgetown for additional food donations through the end of December.

County Economic Development Director, William Pfaff brought two lease agreements for the Delaware Coastal Business Park. One is for Jaykal LED Solutions, Inc. This is a local company that does business world-wide – their US offices have been in Harbeson since 2014. In 2020 Jaykal will relocate to a lot in the new section of the business park in Georgetown and expected to bring about 30 jobs as well. The second lease agreement is for Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company, Inc. which will move into the old section of the business park. They are a subsidiary of Chesapeake Utilities and have been providing natural gas to the Delmarva Peninsula since 1959. Their lease is for one year with the option to renew. Both lease agreements were approved by the County Council.

Deputy Director of EMS Administration, Robbie Murray, came before the County Council to renew a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which enables them to provide Technical Assistance to First Responder and Community Groups. The original MOU expired at the end of September, but Murray told the Council that during the 14 month period they have trained over 300 First Responders in the safe and effective use of Narcan. The Council has approved a 3 year renewal for the program, which will begin on December 15 and continue until September 29, 2022. This enables EMS to utilize grant funding to offset both personnel costs and equipment costs while combating the opioid crisis.

County Engineer, Hans Medlarz, requested the cancellation of Leases A & B at the Delaware Coastal Airport and asked for authorization to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for either a proposal for one large hangar or a proposal for new hangars (smaller). This redevelopment project would replace two aging hangars totaling 5,000 square feet of existing space with at least 20,000 square feet of new space, capable of accommodating large corporate jet aircraft. For the RFP, the land lease options upon the lands encompassing Lots A & B:
• Proposal for large single hangar development for the purpose of constructing a 20,000 to 30,000 square foot hangar on Lots A & B.
• Proposals for mid-size hangar development for the purpose of constructing a 10,000 to 15,000 square foot hangar on either Lot A or B or both lots.

In Old Business the Council approved Conditional Use No. 2194 for Imagination Renovation, LLC for about 5 acres of land on Rust Road in Harbeson where building of furniture will be done.

The Council approved Change of Zone No. 1893 for Lisa Horsey – to rezone 0.474 acres off Route 13 in Laurel from AR-1 to C-2 Medium Commercial, which has been used as a commercial property for years. The change of zone will bring this parcel in line with the other commercial properties that surround it.

The Council also approved Change of Zone No 1894 for Howard Pepper, Jr. The change of zone is for 2.368 acres off Route 113 in Frankford and will rezone the parcel from AR-1 to C-3 Heavy Commercial for a hardscaping business. The property is mostly surrounded by commercially zoned property – and was only found recently to be AR 1 – the previous user of the property operated a used car lot and Castle Graphics.

All three applications had been deferred by Planning and Zoning at the time of their public hearings before the County Council on November 19. Planning and Zoning has since made its recommendations to the Council in preparation of today’s votes.

Nearly full house – most in opposition of Kent Apartments Change of Zone & Conditional Use applications

The afternoon session brought a full house of residents from the Ocean View area who are opposed to a planned apartment complex, Kent Apartments, to be built on just under 4 acres of land near the intersection of Muddy Neck and Parker House Roads. Robert Harris of Gulfstream Development, LLC says the 45 units that would make up the complex in three buildings would be rental apartments of 2 and 3 bedroom and told residents in opposition to the project that he isn’t promoting 6 month leases – that the ideal lease would be for 12 months.

Developers layout of the Kent Apartments near intersection of Muddy Neck Road and Parker House Road near Ocean View

Residents of the neighboring communities feel there would be no sense of community with renters and that there could be an increase in crime and other problems. Other residents cited increased traffic and the fact that no traffic impact study was done, water management on the property, what the buildings will look like – they’ve only seen a footprint on the property of the three buildings, the effect on the Indian River School District, enough space for emergency apparatus if needed, no public transportation – yet developer saying it’s right for affordable housing to live where you work. Over a dozen people in opposition to the change of zone and conditional use applications spoke before the council – and over 1100 letters of opposition have been received. The Council has deferred a vote on both applications for a week so that they can better digest the testimony provided by both sides.

The Sussex County Council will meet for the last time in 2019 next Tuesday, December 17 at 10am in the Council Chambers on the Circle in Georgetown.