County defers action on South Bethany Sewer District expansion

Sussex County Council held a public hearing earlier this week related to the Berzins expansion of the South Bethany Sanitary Sewer District.

Along with connecting the Berzins property, located on Kent Avenue, to the sanitary sewer district, connection points for three other parcels in the district that are not being served could gain connection.

The proposed expansion of the district would contain 45.34 acres, more or less, situated on the south side of County Road 361, Kent Avenue and on bouth sides of County Road 363, Double Bridges Road.

The Berzins property is in the process of developing the land for a residential community, with commercial space.

Annette Reeping, who lives on Double Bridges Road, was the only citizen to speak during the public hearing.

“I’m here to make sure the process is followed comprehensively in this situation,” she said. “It’s a little complex because you have the Town of Ocean View involved, you have South Bethany involved. And then you have Double Bridges Road, which is approximately 4 miles long, which are farm roads for the most part. There are no shoulders and what goes on either side is a drainage ditch.”

Reeping said the size of the Berzins development would “add hundreds, if not thousands, of cars to that particular road.”

“It’s a very dangerous road and adding large numbers of cars is going to be very significant. Now, you may say why am I here, this is a sewer review?

“It is my understanding, final plans need to be approved normally prior to coming for your review as council people. The safety of the community is why I’m here.”

Reeping said she had called the Town of Ocean View to see the plans, but was told they had not yet been finalized.

“I’m not opposed to the sewer district, I encourage it. My concern is that, once it gets approved even on a preliminary basis, that will give them the opportunity to begin the building process without the rest of Double Bridges and DelDOT reviewing the safety of the people on that road.

“I hope that you will rigidly follow the process that is in place for your review… You are the only organization, the only government people that I know of, that will have a review of this because it is disjointed.”

Councilman Rob Arlett asked if the Council’s decision is contingent on anything the Town of Ocean View does.

“Not really,” said John Ashman, director of Utility Planning. “It’s basically bringing them into our district. We still have control of capacity they use… It provides them with access to the sewer, but it does not guarantee them that the Town will approve the project.”

Arlett agreed that Double Bridges Road is dangerous, and believes the safety concerns need to be addressed by DelDOT, specifically when it comes to bicyclists.

Councilman George Cole said he still had concerns regarding the project, and moved to defer until the following week.

“I do believe we need a better coordination with the towns,” he said. “Our coordination should be a little tighter so in the future we don’t have some issues with things that may get denied or changed or exceeded our capacity.”

Ashman said by the County bringing properties into the sewer district doesn’t dictate what a town has to do.

Council voted 3-0, with Sam Wilson and Joan Deaver absent, to defer their decision until the following week so council may hear additional information from staff regarding Ocean View’s schedule.

“I think it’s very reasonable. I think in the past we’ve not done this but it makes sense to me that we grant sewer to a project that we know we’re getting, not to something that might, might not happen, might change, might do this… I’ve been concerned for years that we shouldn’t be granting sewers unless we know it’s here.”

Council will discuss the expansion at next Tuesday’s council meeting at 10 a.m.