During Sussex County Council's June 30 meeting, Sussex County Planning and Zoning Director Jamie Whitehouse provided an annual progress report on the 2018 comprehensive plan as mandated by state law.
Whitehouse said the number of rezoning applications increased by two from 28 to 30 from the previous fiscal year, and the number of conditional-use applications decreased by four from 43 to 39.
Subdivision applications dropped off significantly, from 32 applications with 3,447 lots in fiscal 2019 to 23 applications with 914 lots in fiscal 2020.
The first housing project was approved under the county rental program to provide affordable housing. Located off Plantation Road near Lewes, Coastal Tide, formerly Arbors at Cottagedale, will include 168 apartments on an 18-acre parcel. At least 26 units will be affordably priced through the county program. New ways to develop affordable housing are a goal of the new plan.
Whitehouse said the county sewer system continues to grow. Areas due for expansion include Herring Creek, Chapel Branch, Joy Beach, Mulberry Knoll, Wolfe Runne, Mallard Creek, Lochwood and communities in Long Neck including Branch, Autumn, Tucks Road and Sherwood Forest.
The county is completing a major sewer line in western Sussex County to transmit wastewater from Bridgeville and Greenwood to the City of Seaford treatment facility. The project eliminates the Bridgeville treatment facility.
County staff is completing the design and preparing for installation of a new water system in Ellendale.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Sussex County Council provided a $250,000 grant to the Delaware Housing Authority's housing assistance program to provide residents struggling with rent or utility bills with up to $1,500 emergency financial assistance.
The county provided $1.9 million in county and federal funds to assist 250 owner-occupied households with rehabilitations and emergency repairs, and water and sewer hookups.
Under the county cluster subdivision ordinance, seven subdivisions set aside a total of 555 acres of open or recreational space. The county budget includes $1.7 million to preserve open space and farmland.
Sussex County Council and staff continue discussions with Delaware Department of Transportation officials on an updated memorandum of understanding for receiving and processing land-use applications and the level of information to be included with applications. Council and staff are also working out details of a proposed Henlopen Transportation Improvement District for a 24-square-mile area south of Route 9 and west of Route 1.
Sussex officials are awaiting an updated draft ordinance on wetland buffers written by a working group. Whitehouse said the COVID-19 state of emergency has derailed the effort temporarily.
Sussex County government supported construction of a 13,500-square-foot Automotive Center of Excellence at Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown. With a two-year commitment of $120,000, the center will double to 40 the number of automotive technicians trained each year and train up to 15 diesel mechanics a year, a first for the region.
The county's Delaware Coastal Business Park was designated a foreign trade zone, allowing foreign and domestic goods to be moved to the park for operations, and to be stored, manufactured and processed without duty payments.