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Lewes, Delaware
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April 5, 1996     Cape Gazette
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April 5, 1996
 

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12 - CAPE GAZETrE, Friday, April 5 - April U, 1996 Milton's Rogers fries for Sussex Council seat; Dukes, Jones likewise By Michael Short The race for County Council has gotten a little more crowded this week with the an- nouncement on April 2 that Lynn Rogers of Milton will seek the Third Councilmanic Seat currently held by Ralph Benson (D). Benson announced last month that he will retire after 24 years on Council. Rogers joins fellow Milton resident Charles Farrell in seeking Benson's seat. Also this week, Dale Dukes (D) filed for another term in the First District and Finley Jones (D) officially announced on Saturday that he will seek the Second Councilmanic Seat which is currently held by Bill Steven- son. Stevenson also does not plan to seek another term. Dukes, who now serves as President of the County Council, had said previously that he would seek re-election. Jones had filed previously, so his announcement was also not a surprise. But Rogers was a different matter. Rogers, a Democrat, has served for 16 years as chief of the Milton Fire Company. A life- long resident of Sussex County and Milton, Rogers is vice presi- dent of the Milton Chamber of Com- ROGERS merce and owner of Rogers Signs. He also serves as president of the Delaware Volunteer Fireman's Associa- tion, is active in Goshen U.M. Church and is a former Delaware State Police Commu- nications Specialist. "I know the district by heart," he said. "I was born here. I was raised here." Rogers describes himself as an optimistic man and he pledged to run a clean and up- beat campaign. "I listen to people. I feel I cffn talk to people," he said. Rogers said he is concerned about the quality of life and fami- ly values. He is married and has two daughters and says, "I just like to help people." The filing by Rogers DUKES and last week's filing by Farrell sets up a battle between a pair of Milton Democrats for the seat. No other candidates have yet come forward to file for lenson's seat. Dukes is the only candidate thus far in the First District. The incumbent filed on April 2 for another term, the same day Rogers filed. He said that County Council has made some good decisions during his eight years in office. Some of those deci- sions have been contro- versial, but Dukes said a paramedic program, six straight budgets without a property tax increase, an enhanced 911 phone system and construction of the new administration b. uilding are worthwhile JONES achievements. He also said that the West Rehoboth Sewer District, although controversial, was a good decision. Dukes also praised the County Council as being non-partisan and not relying on party lines when it casts votes. "I have never asked people in seven and a half years when they call with a prob- lem whether they are a Republican or a De- mocrat," Dukes said. "I think it's a track record I should have soine pride in." Mears' By Michael Short A zoning change to allow a con- dominium complex on Old Land- ing Road got a mixed reaction at an April 2 public hearing. W. Leroy Meats has applied for a zoning change which would al- low construction of 69 units in an open field on the west side of Road 274, opposite Rehoboth Shores Estates and Breezewood. "We are maximizing the use of the land without overcrowding it," Mears said. His plans call for the 10.9 acres of land to be rezoned HR-2 high density to allow nine triplex units and 21 duplex units. The property is located about one third of a mile behind Rt. 1. Critics focused on the density of the project and on traffic concerns and fear that the project would worsen traffic in the already heav- ily traveled Old Landing Road area. Supporters said the units would condominium plan for be attractive for older residents and pointed out that Mears has agreed to make improvements to Old Landing Road. Mears has signed an agreement with Delaware's Department of Trans- portation which calls for widening the road at the project site and adding a fight turn lane. Mears' attorney, Scott Bradley, said the project is near infrastruc- ture and would help preserve farmland instead of "chewing up" agricultural land. Bradley said that high density development uses less agricultural land. He said it is already difficult to get farmers to farm this land be- cause it is too small and too close to development. Bradley said the project would have a modest im- pact on the area and the Old Land- ing improvements would make up for any roadway impact. County Council deferred action on the project on Tuesday, agree- Old Landing Road gets mixed reaction ing to wait 30 days in order to al- low more comments from the Delaware Department of Trans- portation. They also agreed to keep the record open for the next 30 days (until-May 2), which means written comments can be submitted to County Coundil until then. After that, the record will be closed and no more comments will be taken. The project has already received approval from the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commis- sion. Public comments were split be- tween suaporters and opponents. Members of the Citizens Coalition suggested lesser density with a compromise of perhaps four units per acre being acceptable. Cur- rently, the AR zone allows two units per acre and the proposed development has a density of roughly seven units per acre. Mike Tyler, president of the Citizens Coalition, said a rezoning could help subvert county efforts to develop a comprehensive land use plan. The county is scheduled to complete its updated plan by the end of this year. "That.is what a plan is for gen- tlemen," Tyler said. Charlie Marsch said-that the AR-1 zoning with its low density is a security blanket for the area. "Let's keep that security." Mark West said that "some- where along the line I feel this project is being shoved down our throats." One resident of the Landing op- posed the project, saying that den- sity was too high and pleading that residents be allowed to at least keep the illusion of living in the country. But Joseph Kerns of the Land- ing said the development has de- cided to support the project. Kerns said that it was unreasonable to expect the land to always remain an open field. If it must be devel- oped, he said the Landing prefers a non-commercial project and feels this could be, an attractive development, similar to the Plan- tations on Rt. 275. Dr. James Beebe also supported the project, saying it could be an attractive project for retirees, es- pecially older residents. Two resi- dents also supported the project, saying it would be attractive to older residents because of its low maintenance and smaller unit sizes. Other groups were split on their feelings about the proposed project. The Rehoboth Planning Commission has expressed con- cern about the project while the Gosling Creek Homeowners As- sociation opposed the develop- ment. Both the Landing and Ar- nell Creek Homeowners Associa- tions support the condominium plans. Lewes Council on 3-1 vote approves $1,2 million budget By Dennis Forney Lewes Council members, in a 3-1 vote on Friday, March 29, approved a $1,292,327 operating budget for the fiscal year which- began on April 1, 1996. They also approved an $877,933 capital projects budget which includes anticipated revenues of $806,000 from the Cape Shores development. (This is the year that Cape Shores agreed to finish out its payments to the city for lot leases on Lewes Beach.) Councilwoman Elinor Sheehan cast the only vote against passage of the budget. "I don't believe that two executive sessions and one daytime workshop session are enough time spent on the budget. I'm against the passage of a budget on that ba- sis. But I know it's going to pass anyway." Mayor George Smith, after heating Shee- han's comments, wasted little time in re- sponding. "You sit on this council and if you want additional meetings you can ask for them at any time. But you never did. Saying what you're saying now is a little late. As a member of this council you have a respon- sibility. You should voice your opinion." Sheehah said it didn't make any differ- ence. "I knew the budget was going to pass anyway." The crowd on hand for the meeting num- bered about 10 including Jud Bennett and Jim Ippolito who have filed for election to council. Frank H. Buck, who has now filed for the mayor's seat, was also on hand. He too criticized the budget process saying he felt the residents should have more time and opportunity to review budget figures being considered. Councilman Jim Ford noted that meet- ings had been held and advertised. "If peo- ple want to come out, the budget drafts are here for them to review at any time," said Ford. Nina Cannata questioned a 19 percent in- crease in salaries for members of the city's street department. Councilman Ford said the increases came as a result of reviewing comparable positions in other communities in Sussex County, inland and along the coast. In response to a further concern posed by Cannata, it was noted that increas- es were also predicated in part on perfor- mance evaluations. "This is a one time salary correction," said Councilman Tony Pratt. And Councilman Ford added, "This was precipitated by action that was taken on one employee last August," He referred to a large raise that was voted for ex-Police Chief Richard Stone in August of 1995 to get him to reconsider his resignation at that time. He accepted the raise and agreed to stay on but decided once more to resign in March of this year. When he accepted the raise last August, street department em- ployees and other town employees took ex- ceptio.n to the raise coming outside the nor- mal budget cycle. Town council members and Mayor George Smith assured the em- ployees that their salaries would be re- viewed closely when the budget review process began this spring.. The increases approved in the budget process reflect action on that promise. Cannata also questioned whether Lewes planned any changes in its investment poli- cies affecting nearly $2 million in cash re- serves. (State treasurer Janet Rzewnicki met with council members in 1995 and sug- gested Lewes spread its funds among a number of different banks or piggy back with the state's investing process.) Ford responded that no more thought had been given to shifting reserves. "Our in- " vestments are.either insured or collateral- ized with U.S. treasury securities," said Ford. "I'm fairy comfortable with where we are now.'" The operating budget proposed by City Manager Elaine Bisbee anticipates the use of $14,983 in reserve funds to achieve bal- ance. However council members said the budget was conservative on revenues and they expect collected revenues to meet ex- penditures when the fiscal year is finished. Some budget highlights: The police department budget shows a decrease in expenditures for the new fiscal year over the previous year. The reason: the Director of Public Safety contract ends in July and council members said previous- ly that the city will no longer have such a 15osition when that contract expires. And, only $20,000 of a chief's projected $40,000 salary is being budgeted in because no salary will be paid during the search process. The property tax rate of 32 cents per $100 Of valuation is the same as the previ- ous budget year. The capital projects fund includes $230,000 as part payment for the city hall expansion for an enlarged police depart- ment. (Estimates for the expansion had Continued on page 18