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Lewes, Delaware
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April 25, 1997     Cape Gazette
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April 25, 1997
 

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I II II 11 - CAPE , liday, April 25- May 1, 1997 Subdivision appeal causes Sussex to question own authority By Michael Short The recent overturn of three de- cisions has left members of the Sussex County Planning and Zon- ing Commission wondering how much power they have over subdi- vision requests. It's been traditionally very rare for subdivision cases to be ap- pealed to Sussex County Council. But those appeals are becoming more common, and County Coun- cil heard three such cases recently. subdivisions are not needed in ar- eas where existing subdivisions still have vast quantifies of unsold lots. But in an opinion from County Attorney Gene Bayard, the Com- mission was told that need is not an acceptable reason to use when denying a subdivision. Since that meeting, an ordi- nance has been introduced by County Council which outlines reasons the Planning and Zoning Commission can use. It amounts to a checklist of issues, such as impact on traffic, safety and other concerns, which can be used to deny requests and it is meant to re- duce confusion. Allen wasasking Assistant County Attorney Dennis Schrader what power the commission has. Schrader repeated Bayard's opin- ion that need isn't acceptable, but that other reasons such as safety are acceptable reasons for saying no. "Nobody gets to question whether or not it should be a com- mercial [property]," be said. Allen wondered whether the commission should even listen to the public if they have no authori- ty to use their own judgment. He noted that public hearings on sub- division requests can turn heated, but asked "what's the use of lis- teningT' The discussion prompted Com- missioner Robert Wheatley to say at Planning and Zoning Com- missioners are going to just have to be "more intentional with our reasons." He was making the point that the planners need to be careful with their reasons and be specific because they have now learned that their decisions will be appudL County Council granted all three appeals. Sussex County Planning and Zoning makes sub- division decisions and such issues are not traditionally handled by the County Council. County Council has the final say over oth- er issues, such as changes of zon- ing. "In layman's terms, tell me what power we have on subdivi- sions," said Planning and Zoning Commission Chair John Allen during the commission's Thurs- day, April 10 session. The Commission relied heavily on the issue of need when it made at least some of the initial deci- sions, ruling that additional large Sussex denies West Rehoboth sewer appeal By Michael Short Sussex County Council unani- mously denied an appeal on Tues- day by a resident of the West Re- hoboth Sewer District. The appeal centered around the issue of whether the resident should have to pay an impact fee, since she missed the December 30 deadline. Joan Roberson said that she did not pay the equalization fee because she was told that she had a vacant lot and the fee did not have to be paid on unimproved lots. She did, however, paY the fee for another lot in Fieldwood, where she lives. She also paid the fee for her daughter's property, but did not pay the fee for the va- cant lot, because she said a county employee told her it was not nec- essary. She paid the fee for the two lots with homes upon them. "I had the money to pay it. I could have paid it," she said of the emp- ty lot. It technically is nut necessary. Sewer district residents did not have to pay the fee, but if they do not, then they must pay a much greater impact fee when the prop- erty is developed. The capitaliza- tion fee of $500 was a one-time only fee. Residents who did not pay it must pay a $2,808 connec- tion or user fee when they develop the property. Roberson said she did not re- ceive the letter advising her of that, was given incorrect informa- tion about her lot and thus, should not have to pay the $2,808 fee. There is no outstanding bill to the county, but the additional charge must be paid if the property is de- veloped and built on. Roberson, whose vacant lot is in Continued on page 15 Make The Decision Now! I I I I I I Ineselng numbers of residents enjoy the Plantations so much, they say it's The Perfect Place to live. Why? Because of the quality of life, the extensive variety of homes, the sweeping beauty, the ease of maintenance and the instt availability. len't it time you decided to make Plantations your home, too? The vadety of homes is as impressive as.the quality isdepend- able. We have newly designed Villas with garages, spacious Courtyard units, Carriage Homes with garages where you own the land and custom-built Single-family homes. Each property is constructed exclusively by Country Life Homes, the  Diamond Builder award winner in Delaware. Visit Plantations and tour our models. Prices start at $99,500. For more information, call us at - 302.645..2727 or 800.777.15301 Omm 7. days s week ..................... /6"/ii"i//iit/ie/iii'//i"wi/t/ii ...................... Midway Shopping Center traffic light onto Postal Lane, then d,ht at 275.