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Lewes, Delaware
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September 13, 1996     Cape Gazette
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September 13, 1996
 

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16 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, September 13 - September 19,1996 rState considers exp00dlng Sussex bus:routes Oct. 28 By Michad Short The Delaware Transit Corpora- tion is planning a huge expansion of mass transit facilities in Sussex County. That expansion will greatly increase the number of bus routes in the county in a system designed to connect towns and rural areas such as the "Strong Communities" with jobs, medical care and other vital services. The expansion is scheduled to begin on Oct. 28 and will involve several "fixed routes" for buses as well as service for people who can not reach bus stops. The four fixed routes planned run between Georgetown, Lewes and Re- hoboth Beach, from Milford to EI- lendale, Milton and Georgetown, from Georgetown through Mills- bore to Roxana and from George- town to Bridgeville and Laurel. In addition to four fixed routes, the service will also provide ser- vice for people who can not reach the scheduled stops. That curb-to- curb service would bring people to regular bus stops on the fixed route system. The increased service won some support at a public hearing on Sept. 10 in Georgetown. Sue Keefe of the Millsboro Library said it would be beneficial for se- niors. Linda Forte with the Adult Plus Program said bus service will promote independence and echoed Keefe's comments that more bus service would help se- nior citizens. Adult Plus is a pro- Sussex plan Continued from page 1 emphasis on preserving farmland, discourages strip development, encourages the county to develop a sunsetting provision and encour- ages development around existing infrastructure. The sunsetting pro- vision being suggested would give developers a set period to begin work on an approved project or risk having the land zoning revert back its previous zoning. Among the most controversial provisions is one that would keep much of the county in an agricul- tural district to preserve farmland. The controversial part of that is the density, which limits develop- ment to one housing unit per 20 acres of land. Critics say that means farmers can never develop or sell more than a token amount of land, effectively downzoning the land and making it lose some of its value. Supporters counter that the county residents want to preserve farmland. Whitman, Requardt and Associates, said surveys of county residents showed preserv- ing farmland and farming to be a huge concern of local residents. Dukes expects that to be per- haps the most controversial aspect of the proposed plan. Although farmers support efforts to preserve farmland, many count on being able to sell a few lots in order to make money, particularly when they retire. gram at Delaware Technical and Community College which pro- vides a host of programs for area seniors. "This is going to open the door for so many people of all ages," Forte said. Donna Mitchell said that it's important for seniors to receive bus service, but said that she hoped the state doesn't forget how important those services can be for single mothers. "They are stuck." But not all the comments were favorable. Vernon Grice com- plained the Delaware Transit Cor- poration did not consider private transportation providers when they developed the plans. Grice went to County Council last spring saying he would like to provide more bus service in the county, and he called the state ef- forts "unfair." The Georgetown to Rehoboth route would include the following. It would stop at Rehoboth Av- enue, the Rehoboth YMCA and shopping areas along Rt. 1. The route would start at the George- town-DHSS Center and continue on its regular route into Lewes and then Rehoboth Beach Costs would be $1.15 for one zone (a zone is determined by how far you travel) and $2.15 for two zones. The fee for being taken to the regular bus route is $2 or $3 depending on whether the route covers one or two transportation Another potentially controver- sial aspect of this plan is who real- ly is the boss. The county must de- velop the plan, but the state then reviews the plan and can p0ten- tially give it a thumbs down if it doesn't meet with state standards. "We are the ones who have to face the constituents," said Dukes. But the county has been meeting with state officials on the progress of the plan, which makes it unlike- ly that the state would reject the county efforts, according to Bob S.tickels. Any plan will be periodically upgraded to deal with changing conditions. A draft of the Sussex County Comprehensive Plan is available to the public and may be pur- chased for $15 at the Planning and Zoning office in the County Cour- thouse in Georgetown. A summa- ry of the draft is available for no charge. The 50 plus page document in- eludes several full-color and black and white maps that illustrate such topics as existing and future land use, population distribution, trans- portation corridors, public water and waste water systems and recreation. The booklet is divided into ma- jor topics of study and projection for the county. These topics, or "elements," are as follows: land use; mobility; water and waste water systems, conservation, recreation and open space, hous- ing, intergovernmental coordina- tion, community design, historic zones. Cost for disabled and elderly passengers is reduced and will cost .45 or .85 for either one or two zones. Susan Knapp of the consulting firm KFH Group in Bethesda, Md., which developed the transit study, said that DelDOT realizes it may take a while to build rider- ship. She said that is normal. "You are not going to look at it af- ter a month and cut it out [if it isn't heavily used]," Knapp said. The individual service to peo- ple's homes would be provided by what is now DART First State. 'he big difference with this plan is these services are open to everybody [not just senior citi- zens]," she said. Knapp said that the DART First State buses will be used in order to cut costs. Since they are already running routes and picking people up, they can pick up additional people for less cost than begin- ning a new service. She said that some people have worried that existing transporta- tion such as CHEER routes would be cut out. She said that will not happen and no one's services will be reduced by the new program. Anyone who was not able to at- tend the hearing on Sept. 10 and who still wished to comment on the proposal can send comments until Thursday, Sept. 19 to DTC Public Hearing Workshop, P.O. Box 1670, Wilmington, DE. preservation and economic devel- opment. The land use plan draft was pre- pared by Whitman, Requardt and Associates. In its introduction, it states that the vision is to imple- ment a Comprehensive Plan which will enhance the quality of life and provide economic and housing opportunities for all resi- dents of Sussex County. The plan, however, is just the beginning. The county must adopt a full range of ordinances to sup- port the plan and the county will have one year after the plan is adopted to finish the ordinances. That means a heavy work load and numerous public hearings on what is expected to sometimes be controversial issues. "It should be fun," joked Dukes. Ordinances impacting strip de- velopment, mobile home place- ment, changes in agricultural zon- ing and other issues are just some of those ordinances, which must be developed. Density is one issue which must be addressed by the ordinances. Mobile home placement may be the most intriguing. There have been arguments by some that mo- bile homes should be allowed in more zoning categories by the county. There is support for keep- ing singlewide mobiles or manu- factured homes in mobile home parks, but doublewide homes which look like more standard stick built homes could be consid- ered for other zones. The land use plan does not say which zones FIXED ROUTES The bus service for Sussex County is about to be dramati- cally expanded. The new routes were the subject of a Sept. 10 public hearing and are expected to link Sussex eommtmifies together. Fares are expected to be $1.15 or $2.15 depending on the length of the ride and service will start late next month. could allow such housing, mean- ing the county is likely to wrestle with that intriguing issue. "The Comprehensive Plan em- phasizes that existing Municipali- ties and adjacent areas offer the greatest opportunities for develop- ment with the least impact on Sus- sex County's environment, healthful living standards, agricul- tural industry and transportation network," according to the draft. "Centralization of public infra- structure and services is a require- ment of all existing and future de- velopment within Sussex County. Because the municipalities pro- vide the location and or public in- frastructure and services require- ments for development, they should be considered the primary development zones for immediate expansion and adjacent designat- ed growth areas should provide for future growth." The plan establishes a town cen- ter district, which is described as a way to concentrate compatible growth around existing munici- palities. The town center district would vary depending on individ- ual towns. There would be agricultural res- idential districts, development districts and agricultural protec- tion districts. Development dis- tricts would be in areas which are expected to grow and which are expected to be served by central sewer facilities. The agricultural residential district is a buffer be- tween the agriculture protection and development areas. In Sussex County, a Planning and Zoning Commission public heating is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m. in the theatre of Delaware Tech College Owens Campus. Sussex County Council will conduct a public hearing in the same location Tuesday, Nov. 19, also at 7:30 p.m. These meeting are open to all and Shafer expects some changes to be made to the draft compre- hensive plan. Boyd-Heron passes presidency to Post Tony Boyd-Heron, president of Milton Main Street, announced he would not run for re-election during the Milton Main Street meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 10. Boyd-Heron, who owns the Captain William Russell House Bed and Breakfast in Milton and the Peninsula Collection in Lewes, said his businesses are too demanding of his time for him to continue active in- volvement in a civic organization. "I simply cannot devote the time that is required to be a good president," said Boyd-Heron. He said he will, however, continue his membership and involvement in the organization. Don Post, owner of Jailhouse Art and Antiques, was elected the new president of the organization committed to preserv- ing the historical integrity of the downtown area while promoting eco- nomic development.