County approves Phase III expansion of Millville sewer district

The Sussex County Council this week approved going ahead with the Phase III portion of the Millville Sanitary Sewer District expansion, including several additional properties in the Wingate Court subdivision. Sussex County had held a public hearing in January that County Director of Utility Planning John Ashman said was sparsely attended, so they held an additional public hearing on Thursday, March 7.

After being contacted by several property owners who were interested in being included in the expansion, the County has contacted several more adjacent property owners in recent weeks. Ashman reported this week that, of the nine properties in Wingate Court, five were interested and three were not, and there was still one property owner they could not reach.

The expansion would include more than 80 parcels located along Route 26 that are contiguous to the existing sewer district. The project is set to extend public wastewater service mostly along Route 26, from Hocker’s SuperCenter west to St. George’s UMC Church at Clarksville.

Sussex County Council members had voted in October 2012 to allow the County engineering department to prepare and post notices for the proposed sewer expansion. Ashman said the core reason for the expansion request is to get ahead of the DelDOT mainline roadway improvements slated for that same area. The expansion would consist of approximately 335 acres, and the owners of the parcels would be responsible for system connection charges.

The county council also heard this week from Brandi Nauman and Stephanie Hansen on the county’s fair housing settlement progress. As part of a settlement with the Department of Justice and the federal Housing and Urban Development agency, the County has to meet several time-specific benchmarks. Nauman, an existing County employee, was named as the County’s fair housing compliance officer, which was also part of the settlement.

This week, she set forth several elements of a plan, including affordable housing strategies, a marketing plan and a draft ordinance amendment that would amend the County’s moderately priced housing unit (MPHU) ordinance. They were presented to the council, but no action was taken. They can be seen in their entirety online, under this week’s county council packet on the County Web site.

The county council this week also amended two leases at the county airport and heard from Deputy County Administrator Hal Godwin about legislation, as the General Assembly has come back into session. Godwin mentioned four bills the council might be interested in, including a bill that would allow the County to intercept state tax refunds if any county taxes or school district taxes were owed, as well as a bill concerning the Clerk of the Peace and one relating to flying the American flag outside of residences.

The county council also voted on Tuesday to give $200 to the Huntington Disease Society of America’s walk, which will be held at Trap Pond in Laurel on Saturday, May 18, and to grant $900 to the League of Women Voters of Sussex County for printing expenses.

That amount was in addition to the $3,075 the County had already granted LWVSC for the printing of their “They Represent You” pamphlets. Councilwoman Joan Deaver said the pamphlets were “very valuable.”

An initial motion to grant money from each councilman’s accounts was defeated. They then voted to give $450 out of Deaver’s account and $450 out of Councilman George Cole’s account — a move regular council critic Dan Kramer of Greenwood questioned.

“I despise this giveaway of money,” he said, adding that he hoped none of the council members ever got Huntington’s disease and that he surmised they didn’t even know what it was.

“You give $200 to Huntington’s disease and their walk, which would raise more money, and you turn around and give $900 to the League of Women Voters, who were just here last week, saying you should get rid of your discretionary fund.”

The council also granted money to Sussex Central High School Softball Boosters, the Lewes Historical Society, Cape Henlopen Senior Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware Inc., the Delaware Storm travel softball team, Georgetown Little League, Milford Senior High School for their after-prom party, Sussex County Health Promotion Coalition and the Lewes-Rehoboth Rotary Club.

They decided to learn more about the organization Prevent Child Abuse Delaware before granting them money. The organization asked for a grant for the first time this year to bring the “Stewards of Children” initiative to Sussex County. According to their letter to council, Stewards of Children is a child-abuse prevention program created by Darkness to Light, a non-profit focused on child sexual abuse prevention.

For more information on this or on any of the organizations requesting grant money this week, or on any of the council’s actions taken at this week’s meeting, the entire council packet can be viewed online at Click on “online services” from the main link bar, then “agendas and minutes,” and then the date of the meeting, and, finally, click “packet.”