EDITORIAL: Council needs to stop madness

Have we finally reached the point of absurdity?

Rezoning of a 265-unit development proposed for just south of Millville — called The Lakelyns — was shot down by Sussex County Planning & Zoning (P&Z) in October because of the need for higher density zoning and overall problems with the design concepts. The feelings of P&Z members couldn’t be more clear, as they voted 5-0 against the proposed zoning change.

Fast forward to this past Tuesday. The proposal came up in front of Sussex County Council — and passed by a 4-1 margin.

“Four units to the acre is excessive,” said George Cole, the lone dissenting vote on county council. “(And) duplexes are out of character. I also feel it is a poor design. I support Planning and Zoning’s decision that the property should be denied.”

How in the world did this pass county council when P&Z was so against the plan? Yes, we know the P&Z is more of an advisory committee than a legislative organ, but isn’t a unanimous vote a clear message of the advice being offered by P&Z?

According to county records, the proposed development calls for 111 single-family lots and 154 duplex units. The property also falls into the county’s Environmentally Sensitive Developing Area.

So, why does our county council approve these up-zonings so easily?

As is the case with many things, let’s start with the money. Transfer taxes and impact fees are regular contributors to the county’s till, and the required connection to county sewer is becoming a cash cow for the county. However, there is also the denisty trade ordinances that Council Member Vance Phillips has been pushing. These ordinances call for developers being approved for zoning changes, providing they pay the county some cash.

“I’m not trying to hide the fact that I support higher density,” said Phillips. “My interest is seeing that developers pay for that extra density.”

And, it would seem, the community pays for a possibly-oversaturated market.

We are all for growth at the Coastal Point — we just ask that it be well-planned and smart growth. Not every project has to approved with a zoning change, and not every decision has to come down to taking money.

Sometimes you have to do what’s right.