County initiates sewer study

Sussex County Council covered a range of local sewer projects at the May 24 council meeting — specific district expansions around Millville and Ocean View, and a massive study for Dagsboro-Frankford and West Sussex.

• The Beaver Dam Expansion of the Bethany Beach Sewer District — Assistant County Engineer Russ Archut noted the four major projects slated for this area, which is south of Millville, bisected by Route 17.

• They are (1) Fairway Villas, around 330 units (approved and annexed into Ocean View), and, proposed and annexed into Millville, (2) Barrington Park, around 440 units, (3) the Dove’s Landing addition, roughly 90 units and (4) the Millville Township Master-Planned Community (MPC) — approximately 3,000 mixed use residential units plus commercial.

Despite different municipal jurisdictions, Archut said the proposed projects all met county planning requirements.

Council Member George Cole said he thought those areas were set up for two units per acre, and Archut agreed they had been, at the time of the initial land use study.

However, he said county engineering had reevaluated the entire area, taking town zoning issues into consideration. The density for the four projects averages around four units per acre, a little under or over.

Cole still voted against the sewer district expansion, saying it promoted excessive development. Council Member Vance Phillips, in contrast, supported the expansion wholeheartedly, saying it was the county’s responsibility to provide infrastructure for growth.

The vote was 4-1, and the public hearing on the matter is scheduled for June 21.

• Next, Archut brought up the Forest Landing Expansion of the Miller Creek Sanitary Sewer District. “What’s a little unusual about this one is, they haven’t actually built it yet,” he pointed out.

Ordinarily, under state law, the county can’t revise a sewer district until 50 homes are hooked in. However, as Archut explained, by connecting 22 homes in Plantation Park, which are on temporary connections right now, with 38 homes in Ocean Air Park, they’d make their number.

The Forest Landing developers have agreed to pay for the infrastructure, hookup and impact fees in the Ocean Air Park to get their sewer availability a little sooner.

Archut estimated savings to the sewer district in the amount of $545,000, and additional savings down the road as the Forest Landing developers put in some infrastructure to connect with an existing pump station in Bear Trap.

Cole asked why Ocean Air Park didn’t just approach the county themselves, and Archut said they had — they were already part of the Miller Creek sewer district but would have waited until 2007 for hookup.

County Administrator Bob Stickels applauded the plan as a great way to get homes in a high water table area off septic, and at a savings to the residents, but Cole again voted no.

He said moving ahead with central sewer would further strain the limited road infrastructure.

• Finally, Project Engineer Adi Maneckshaw presented his top three choices of consultant for (1) the Dagsboro-Frankford and (2) Western Sussex Planning areas.

As Maneckshaw explained, Dagsboro-Frankford included “critical unsewered areas in the Inland Bays watershed.

“Development is prevalent in the area, and more is proposed, and no recent study has reviewed the growth and environmental needs of these areas,” he said.

Maneckshaw’s top choice of consulting firms was Stearns & Wheeler, out of Baltimore. They would be retained through 2014.

Cole again voted in opposition (4-1). “It’s just too much land mass, and this will only lead to a justification that it’s suitable for development,” he said.

In other business, council agreed to reimburse the town of Selbyville in the amount of $10,000, for police training. According to Selbyville Police Chief W. Scott Collins, one of the officers they’d sent through the academy had transferred to the Sheriff’s Department before serving out his two-year period for training reimbursement.

Stickels took the opportunity to suggest a policy that would require anyone seeking employment with the county be required to pay off any outstanding education costs themselves.

On a related topic, the Sussex County Emergency Medical Service (SCEMS) renewed its training agreement with Delaware Tech, for the paramedic program. According to SCEMS Director Glenn Luedtke, four new paramedics would be graduating in fall 2005.

He said they had 25-30 applicants for around five open positions last year, giving them an opportunity to pick and choose. “Hopefully, that will continue,” Luedtke pointed out.

Much of the council meeting was taken up by a discussion regarding a runway extension at the Sussex County Airport. The county is planning to add 1,000 feet of asphalt to accommodate some of the larger charter jets.

With the addition, Sussex County would boast 5,000 feet of runway — compared with 4,072 at the Ocean City Airport and 5,500 at Salisbury (although they’re planning an expansion, too).

However, the county will have to shift a road, and studied several options for realignment on May 24. Izzo, Delta Airport Consultants personnel and representatives from the Town of Georgetown considered a plan to tie into either Arrow Safety Road or South Bedford Street.