County taking right steps in proposed hearing

Sussex County will be holding an additional hearing on the proposed expansion of the Millville Sanitary Sewer District, and we are big fans on how they are going about it.

For starters, John Ashman, the director of utility planning for the County, said he would like to have this hearing within 30 to 45 days. His desire for this is to get out in front of the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) mainline improvements slated for the same area.

“The primary reason for this request is that (DelDOT) has identified the Route 26 corridor from St. George’s Church to the canal for widening and improvements,” he said. “In order to be proactive and complete our mainline regional work in this area prior to the DelDOT disturbance, we need to begin working on the installation of the gravity lines and force main in the Phase III area of Route 26.”

According to Ashman, once DelDOT completes its work, it will be approximately five years before the County would be able to dig that area up to install sewer. Hence, the rush to be first.

Look, this Route 26 project is going to muddy the waters around here for quite some time. The last thing the businesses and homeowners along the road want or need is more disturbance with traffic flow. If they can get the work done now, before DelDOT does its work, there will be less disturbance for all of us in the future. We like this forward-thinking from Sussex County.

Another element of this proposed project that we have to give the County some credit for is their efforts to be transparent to, and inform, the affected public.

Councilman George Cole asked if the County could borrow one of the State’s signs to promote the coming hearing, and Ashman said he would like to mail out letters to the property owners in the area to inform them of the hearing. The County has always advertised their hearings online and in newspapers, but the extra effort to make sure they contact as many people as possible is a step we find to be considerably admirable. One complaint we often hear from people in the community is that they are not informed of hearings that deal with them directly (both on County and municipal levels).

We have not taken a stance on the proposed sewer project, and we won’t now, but we are happy that the plans are forward-thinking and the public is well informed.