Sussex County Council Sees Draft Redistricting Map; No Decision on Lockhaven Subdivision Appeal; Ordinance Amendments on Land Use Map Deferred


This week’s Sussex County Council meeting is the last for 2021 and it was a marathon meeting with a packed agenda. The meeting began at 9am with the Lockhaven Subdivision appeal and didn’t end until just after 6pm with the last two of the afternoon public hearings ending with votes to defer.

The Sussex County Council heard an appeal on the Planning & Zoning Commission’s denial of the Lockhaven Subdivision, which is 25 oversized lots proposed for 126 acres off Round Pole Bridge Road east of Milton. Attorney Fred Townsend spoke on behalf of the appellant while Assistant County Attorney, Vince Robertson, spoke for the Commission. The County Council will not decide this issue until after the New Year.

Several residents of the Covey Creek development in Lewes spoke during the Public Comment portion of the meeting. Residents stated that attempted mediation with the owner of one property has been ignored and they unanimously agree that a planned sheriff’s sale should go on as planned.

Joe Schell updated the County Council on Sandhill Fields, which opened in 2020 and has been widely used by pickleball players, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse and other players and organizations. He also spoke about the planned Sandhill Fieldhouse – a 42,000 square feet and 60 feet tall, will include a turf field for youth soccer and lacrosse, and a sports court for indoor field hockey. Plans also include an 1,800-square-foot support building with restrooms, a reception area and mechanical rooms.

Joe Schell told the County Council the fieldhouse will cost about $6.5-million and if they can “get the funding in place, we will go forward.” Construction could begin next spring and be completed by the end of 2022.

Representatives from several groups, including First State Pickleball Club, Henlopen Soccer, La Super Liga, which all use the facilities at Sandhill Fields, gave glowing praise for the facility.

EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR – Human Resources Director, Karen Brewington, announced the 4th quarter Shining Star winners and then announced the 2021 Sussex County Employee of the Year – as 2nd quarter shining star – Guillermo Montalvo Merino. He has been employed by Sussex County since 2016 in the Community Development Department and currently works as a Rehabilitation Specialist 1. He has also helped out other county departments when a Spanish interpreter was needed – including in the Marriage Bureau.

REDISTRICTING: County Attorney Everett Moore has come back to the Council with redistricting maps – which are quite different from 10 years ago. Sussex County has over 40,000 new residents in the past 10 years and the County Council’s boundaries, like the state legislative boundaries must be adjusted accordingly. In 2010 District 5 stretched across the bottom of the county from one side to just west of Fenwick Island. In the newly drawn draft map shown today – District 5 would be in the center of the county – surrounded by the other 4 districts and would encompass Georgetown and Millsboro. Moore says he has tried to keep boundaries of school districts as constant as possible. Public comment on the draft map will be taken through January 7, 2022 and can be submitted by email, regular mail and the form on the redistricting webpage.

Tracy Torbert – New Clerk of Council

OLD BUSINESS: Two applications were revisited in Old Business. The Council has approved Change of zone No. 1922 on behalf of Baywood, LLC for over 54 acres along Long Neck Road. The Council denied Conditional Use no. 2269 on behalf of Dennis Nelson, Jr. Council members said that it was not a good fit for the location.

During executive session the council had a personnel issue to decide. County Clerk, Robin Griffith will retire at the end of this year/early next year. She is the longest serving clerk of the Council since the early 1970s. County Government began the search for her replacement several months ago and today announced Tracy Torbert has been selected to the position of County Clerk. She is currently the clerk for the City of Seaford.

The afternoon session included three conditional use applications and a change of zone application – which were all approved. There were also 2 ordinance amendments to the future land use map of the comprehensive plan. One is for the Delmar area – the other north of Lewes on the east side of the intersection of Route 1 and Cave Neck Road. Both ordinance amendments to amend the future Land Use Map of the Comprehensive Plan were deferred until the Council returns in January.