Sussex County Council Hears about Balloons from Middle School Students and Moves a Proposed Lodging Tax Forward

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Back after a week off, the Sussex County Council started the morning with a presentation from a group of Beacon Middle School students who are looking to ban large balloon releases. Each of the students told the Council why balloons are ok for celebrations – but that we should “Never Let them Go.” They don’t break down and end up in the stomachs of birds and fish, and the ribbons and strings attached to them are also dangerous to wildlife. After the presentation – Councilman John Rieley told the students that at his farm near Millsboro they found a wedding balloon – that ended up there from Ohio!

The County Council bid farewell to Airport Manager, Jim Hickin. He has retired from the post after 14 years, but it was time well spent and brought a lot to the county – including a longer runway – and the start to a second expansion, and a new name to the county airport thanks to a rebranding a few years ago. In his time with the county, Hickin has administered over $21-million in federal grants for the airport and business park. Eric Littleton of Bridgeville moves into the role of airport manager – he’s been working with Hickin and learning the ropes since July.

A 3% lodging tax was discussed by the County Council. Legislation was passed in the last General Assembly session that would allow Sussex County to impose an up to 3% lodging tax on hotels, motels and tourist homes in unincorporated areas of the County. Councilman IG Burton introduced the ordinance which will be brought for a public hearing in a few weeks. The county is looking to begin collecting the lodging tax in January of 2020. County Finance Director Gina Jennings told the council they estimate the new tax could bring about $1.3-million in revenue, which can only be used on specific programs – beach nourishment, waterway dredging, economic development, tourism programs, recreational activities, water quality projects and flood control projects.

Two sewer annexation requests were approved by the council – for Milo’s Haven in the Millville area and Chase Oaks in the Angola Neck area. Public hearings for those annexations will be held in mid-November.

A public hearing was held on an ordinance that establishes administrative approval processes for the use of a manufactured home-type structure for a business, commercial or industrial use, for garage or studio apartments and in an emergency or hardship situation. This would remove the need of a public hearing. Planning & Zoning Director, Janelle Cornwell told the council they see about a dozen of these annually.

In the afternoon session – the first change of zone application, No 1890 for the W&B Hudson Family, LTD was withdrawn by the applicant. The second application for change of zone No 1899 for Harbeson Farm Revex, LLC was heard by the County Council. This will provide space along Harbeson Road just south of the railroad tracks for a new location of the Harbeson Post Office. The old Post Office was demolished when the new Royal Farms was built at the intersection of Routes 9 and 5. The County Council approved the application with a unanimous vote.

The Sussex County Council will meet next Tuesday, October 29 at 10am at the County Administration offices on the Circle in Georgetown.