Barbecue, produce stand approved near Dagsboro

After previously failing to gain approval for proposed expansion of his Tim’s Aloha Stand business in Bethany Beach with stands in nearby areas of the county, businessman Tim Elder on Tuesday, Jan. 19, finally got the go ahead for one of the projects.

Sussex County Council members voted 4-1 to approve a conditional use for the 1-acre property south of Route 26 and a half-mile west of Road 340 (Townsend Road) to be used for the sale of produce, barbecue, snowballs, lawn furniture, firewood and gifts. The project is similar to a proposal the council voted not to approve last year, then at a location closer to Ocean View town limits.

The business, which will be located behind an existing single-family rental home on the property, will be permitted to operate from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., from April through October.

There will be no displays permitted in front of the existing dwelling, and the backyard business will be screened with a 6-foot-tall privacy fence.

Council members on Tuesday expressed concerns about the olfactory impact of the business on neighboring residents, as barbecue will be cooked on-site.

Councilwoman Joan Deaver said she’d prefer to see the business just be selling produce, and not barbecue.

“That’s a narrow parcel, just 100 feet wide,” added Councilman George Cole. “If it’s operating seven days a week, we need to feel sorry for the neighbors having to deal with that,” he said, suggesting the council limit the operations of the barbecue element of the business to weekends and holidays only.

“I’m trying not to say no to the gentlemen,” Cole added.

Councilman Sam Wilson objected to the idea of limiting the barbecue business.

“I knew chicken manure smelled, but I didn’t know cooking chicken smelled,” he quipped. “I would hate to have you two as neighbors,” he told Cole and Deaver,” saying that he could be outside cooking beef on a grill and his back yard, “and next you know, you’ll be passing laws against that.”

“That’s not every day,” Deaver replied.

However, the notion of limiting the barbecue sales to weekends and holidays only didn’t past muster for the council, failing on a 2-3 vote.

The council on Tuesday did vote to strike a limit on the number of employees at the business, which had been suggested to be set at two plus the owner.

The barbecue sales were a sticking point for Deaver.

“I can’t vote for it,” she said. “I would if it was produce only. But I don’t like this conditional use. I feel for the people who have to live around this thing. I’d hate for someone to do that to me in my neighborhood.”

“We have farmers who raise chickens, too,” Wilson retorted in response to Deaver’s comment about produce sales supporting local farmers.

Despite his concerns about the barbecue sales, Cole said he would vote in favor, noting the area is already under mixed use.

“I think it will work in this area OK,” Councilman Michael Vincent said in voting in favor. Council President Vance Phillips likewise voted in favor, making for a 4-1 vote and approval of the project.

Also on Jan. 19:

• County Attorney J. Everett Moore Jr. reported back on an issue Deaver had raised at the recent retirement of some longtime county employees. Retired county employees, he said, are permitted to run for elected county office, but they are not eligible to collect their pension during the time they are in such a position, if elected. Moore noted that there are no similar provisions preventing pension payments to retired employees of Kent or New Castle counties, nor for retired state workers, if they later serve in an elected capacity for the same level of government.

• Council members unanimously approved the disbursement of Dewey Beach’s full $15,000 municipal police grant for the year, to partially fund the purchase of a new prisoner transport van, with a total cost of $40,000.

• The council unanimously approved the awarding of a $13.212 million bid contract to a Baltimore company for construction of the expansion of the Inland Bays Regional Wastewater Facility Plant, which will increase the plant’s capacity from 1.4 million gallons per day to 2 million gallons per day and increase the level of treatment there.

At completion, the plant will meet targets for DNREC’s pollution control strategy for the Inland Bays watershed.

The bid was the second-lowest received, but the original low bidder’s bid was thrown out after having been determined to be non-responsive. The bid came in $1.4 million lower than the cost estimate, and the project will be under contract in the coming weeks, to meet requirements for anticipated stimulus funding.

The council also unanimously approved on Tuesday an ordinance authorizing the issuance of up to $15.6 million in general obligation bonds to pay for the project, with $1.3 million of principal forgiveness coming from federal stimulus funds. The bonds are to be sold into the USDA fund pool.

• The council approved a grant of $1,000 to the Polly Branch Civic Association for their After-School Program, as well as $500 to the Delaware Envirothon for program expenses.

• The council heard a proposed resolution from resident Eric Bodenweiser against building casinos in Sussex County. Bodenweiser cited the council’s “high morals” and his concerns about gambling addiction among residents should a casino operation be available in Sussex County. The Indian River School District recently passed a similar resolution, he noted. The council took no action on the suggested resolution on Tuesday.