Additional hearing planned on sewer district expansion

Sussex County will hold an additional public hearing on the proposed expansion of the Millville Sanitary Sewer District. The expansion would include an additional 82 parcels located along Route 26 that are contiguous to the existing sewer district.

John Ashman, director of utility planning for the County, said this week that the County would re-post notices for the hearing in the area since they did not have much participation in the public hearing but had heard that the expansion was of interest to many residents and business owners.

Councilman George Cole asked if they could also borrow one of the State’s signs, to make it more widely known that the hearing was happening, because many people drive the road and would be able to see it. Ashland said they would also like to mail letters out to property owners in the area to so they know of the upcoming hearing.

He said he would like to have the meeting in about 30 to 45 days.

Sussex County Council members had voted in October 2012 to allow the county engineering department to prepare and post notices for the proposed sewer expansion.

Ashland said the core reason for the expansion request is to get ahead of the DelDOT mainline improvements slated for that same area.

“The primary reason for this request is that the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) has identified the Route 26 corridor from St. Georges Church to the canal for widening and improvements. In order to be proactive and complete our mainline regional work in this area prior to the DelDOT disturbance, we need to begin working on the installation of the gravity lines and force main in the Phase III area of Route 26,” he said at the Oct. 2 council meeting.

“Once DelDOT has completed its work, it would be approximately five years before they would allow us to re-disturb the area,” he emphasized, noting the additional costs that would result if the County isn’t ready to move forward before DelDOT begins the mainline project.

Ashman said the county engineering department has been coordinating with DelDOT on their plans for the Route 26 corridor and has incorporated the realignment of the St. George’s Church intersection and various other portions of the project area when developing their plans for County services in that area.

The expansion would consist of approximately 335 acres, and the owners of the parcels would be responsible for system connection charges of $6,164 per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU), based on rates from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012.

Ashland said this week that the plan is to run the sanitary sewer expansion project and the Route 26 mainline improvement project simultaneously.

At the October meeting, County Engineer Mike Izzo said that, if they wait until after DelDOT’s improvements, costs for the expansion could be “astronomical,” and if they do it now, they could possibly “fold it into” DelDOT’s project, saving money. He also said they have been contacted by Blackwater Village — a development west of St. George’s on Route 26, consisting of mostly quarter-acre lots with individual septic systems — noting that the property owners in that community had a possible interest in county sewer.

“There is a benefit to that project, as well, if this becomes a reality,” he said.

In other news from this week’s council meeting, the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center will hold an informational meeting in February for amateur radio operators interested in volunteering their services during disasters and other large-scale emergencies. The meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb 19, in the training room of the Sussex County EOC, located at 21911 Rudder Lane, east of Georgetown. The meeting is free, and no registration is required. For more information, call (302) 855-7801.