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March 28, 1997     Cape Gazette
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March 28, 1997
 

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I R ' "14 ?ZI; fdy',2YAi:il, "iJ7 Sussex passes land use plan despite reservations By Mickad Short Sussex County Council has ap- proved a land use plan. but the plan received a lukewarm blessing at best. County Council approved the plan on Tuesday, March 25. The plan passed five to nothing, but every single member of council made it clear that they didn't get everything they want from the document. Taut plan will now be forward- ed to the state for its comments. A final vote comes only after the state reviews the plan. County Council President Dale Dukes has made it a point to say that the council has listened to the public and tried to incorporate their viewpoints. He said it again on Tuesdny as the council mem- ben voted to approve the plan. Dukes called the plan workable and said that it will not sit on a shelf and be forgotten about. Councilman George Collins said he wished there had been more restrictions on strip develop- ment. Councilmen LYnn Rogers and Finley Jones both said a group is needed to constantly monitor the land use plan and ways it can be updated and improved. "I think there have been many changes and many concerns have been met," Rogers said. "We have tried to listen." Councilman George Cole said "there are more things I'm sup- portive of than not supportive of." He wanted a larger minimum lot size of one acre, instead of the three quarter acre minimum adopted by the county for areas without central sewer. But Cole supported other elements of the land use plan, including a possible C-2 zone, larger lots in conserva- tion districts and limits on strip development. Jones said it is better to put out small fires than big blazes, a refer- ence to the need for a group to routinely monitor the plan. While there are no definite plans for a group, Sussex County Adminis - trator Bob Stickels said that there has been some discussion of a group of citizens being nominated by the county council to review such plans. Both Rogers and Jones feel it is better to constantly update the plan rather than wait another five years and face a process of major upheaval and possibly dramatic changes. In other words, they don't want to have to repeat the turmoil of the past few months, a period marked by packed hearings, upset con- stitnents and occasionally fraying tempers. "I read the Kent and New Castle plans and yours is so much bet- ter," said Consultant Tom Shafer, who praised county council for its efforts. County Council will review state comments, hold a final hear- ing and then adopt the plan. They are required to consider the state comments, but not required to fol- low those guidelines. In addition to approving the plan, county council sl the door on the remnants of the morn- - torium by passing an ordinance limiting strip development. Pas- sage of that ordinance ends the re- mainder of the moratorium, which had limited such development to two lots for each property. The new ordinance limits the numbers of lots which can be ap- proved as strip lots. Specifically, approval can be given automati- cally for four lots per property. Each property owner can also get Continued on page 16 How county plan stacks up to state'srecommendations By Michael Short How does the county land use plan stack up next to the state's land use plan goals? The plan nt to the state on Tuesday meets many of the comments from Delaware's cabinet level committee on state planning . Those comments were made in reference to a September draft of the coun- ty plan and the current plan has changed considerably since tben. The state has made no comments on the new plan yet, but will do so and then forward its recommendations to county council. The ini- tial state comments, contained in a letter sent by Jeff Bullock, head of the commmitte and chief of staff of Governor Tom Carper, took exception with some elements of the plan. Here's a look at the simi- ladties and differences. Development distrkts--One major objection was the size of de- velopment districts around the inland bays and the Nanticoke be- cause.of fears that it could damage those areas. County Council has since scaled back development districts and the smaller areas should be more agreeable to the state. "Our primary concern is that the prsed development districts along the Inland Bays and in Western Sussex are much too large re!- alive to the expected population growth during the planning period," Bullock wrote in a letter late last year. Agrieulture--'Whe plan should encourage the continued growth and improvement of Sussex County's agricultural industry, particu- larly since Sussex County remains the nation's leading poultry pro- ducing county. The Draft Plan provides a significant step forward in preserving agriculture by calling for a density of one dwelling unit Continued on page 16 ing in the way of traffic concerns. Although not definite, seven dif- ferent categories of access are be- ing considered. Such a plan would be statewide and it is very preliminary. "It is re- ally not developed to the point where we have hard and fast num- bers," Leidy said. "This is really going to have an impact on strip development," said County Administrator Bob Stickels. Leidy explained that by having a set policy, developers will know what is allowed and what is not al- lowed. That sort of policy mem that everyone will know the roles and it will eliminate confusion, be said. "It is a step in tbe right diruc- tion'' Lcidy stated. The idea is to have clear poli- cies so that developers don't spend thousands of dollars and then find out they probably can't I Route I. That process consists of determining exactly what is in place now. When that is done, then they will look at "intercon- nectors" such as Mock's idea. That means linking or intercon- necting roads, bike paths or other routes to improve traffic flow and safety will be considered and looked at by DelDOT. Cooper said that process is coming along so rapidly that be expects to hold the first public meeting by May. That will be the first of what will probably be several meetings to look at planning for Route 1 and the various "interconnectors" which could be developed to ease congestion. He expects to discuss the plans at the next meeting of trance. The other advantage oT such a program is that it could give DelDOT more control ocer access and help preserve capacity. High numbers of road entrances me considered bad for traffic flow because they tend to slow down traffic and cause congestion. "I]mt's why DelDOT limits access to roadways like the bypass re- cently built around Dover and Smyrna. The county has just passed a strip development ordinance for exactly that reason and DelDOT has tried to limit access un some local roads, such as Route 1 be- tween Milford and the bridge at Nassau. "In effect it would proba- bly reduce strip development on major roads," Leidy said. Leidy was unsure when a policy could be put into place, but he said that the public will have a chance to make its wishes known. the Route I working group on April 8. Cooper said he would rather talk in more general terms, rather than discuss Mock's idea specifically since it is so new. But he said he is looking forward to working with the public to see what they think of such ideas. "Conceptually, what he is doing is what we see as une of the first ele- ments of what we are doing," Cooper said. "What do you think of these kind of idea?" is the ques- tion the pubfic will have a chance to respond to. He said the process of looking at what is existing and what can be linked together to ere- ate a better system is not unlike playing "connect the dots." Still no Roadhouse intersection decision, but state committed to improvements By Michad Short Delaware's Department of Transportation (DelDOT) remains committed to making improvements to the Roadhouse Intersection before the summer season begins. If nothing is done to improve safety by Memorial Day, then Del- DOT may consider closing the left turn lane into the Rehoboth Out- let Center (L.L. Bean Center) on northbound Route 1 for safety rea- sons. "We are nearing that time frame [when a decision on intersection changes must be made]...We can not go through another summe like the last one," said Christine Gillan of DelDOT. Gillan, who serves as DelDOT's director of external affairs, said that a decision must be made in perhaps the next week or ten days in ruder to have time to do a project before summer officially begins. The Roadhouse intersection, at the site of the Roadhouse Steak Joint and Midway Shopping Center, is considered one of the most dangerous intersections on Route 1. To deal with that concern, the Rehoboth Outlet Center proposed plans last winter to change the in- tersection. Those plans call for the northbound left turn lane into the outlet Continued on page 16 I I ,, _o ,, .,- ,,, _, , ! I Cape region resident Mike : I I ha. / / i i I [ native to Route 1, which o/ i i I I would be located behind I$1 i i I [ Route 1 and between Kings /,/ i i I I Highway and Postal Lane. /,41 i I [ q.1 I I I He also favors a new Postal I'1 i  I I Lane from Route I to Planta- / / - : _ l .o-. i i Continudd from page 1 ested in the idea and that the plan could help the Authority by devel- oping potential satellite parking areas. Mock has passed the sug- gestion, which is really only an idea, on to Delaware's Depart- ment of Transportation (Del- DOT). It is so preliminary that there is no way DelDOT will ei- ther support or oppose the idea at this point. But Eli Cooper of Del- DOT said that Mock's trial bal- loon is exactly the kind of idea that the agency is considering. Cooper is developing what amounts to long term planning for Alternate The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) is working to develop an access management plan which would limit the number of entrances on roadways. Entrance approvals have be- come a hot issue in the Route 1 corridor since DeIDOT denied the entrance permits for two major development plans (Walmart and Lowe's) which stopped both those projects, at least temporarily. The proposed access manage- . ment strategy would base the number of entrances allowed on roadways on factors, such as type of road, speed limit and type of traffic. DelDOT Subdivision En- gineer Joel Leidy cautioned against generalizations, but such a plan would be expected to place more restrictions on the number of entrances on major roadways and fewer restrictions on small road- State access study could clamp down on number of roadway entrances ByMichaelShort ways wbere tbere is little or noth- get approval for a project en- ' ' '