County approves sewer

Sussex County Council moved okayed two sanitary sewer district expansions at the June 21 meeting — one primarily for what will become the 350-lot Forest Landing subdivision (Beaver Dam Road and Central Avenue), and the second for four developments planned, three for Millville and one for Ocean View, which will eventually bring nearly 4,000 homes (and 500,000 square feet of commercial space) to the area.

Council members stated positions when Assistant County Engineer Russell Archut first introduced the proposed expansions, back in May. They cast their formal votes following the public hearings.

Archut said he’d sent letters to the property owners within the proposed expansion areas, and posted notices in heavily traveled businesses nearby and advertised in local papers, but there was zero turnout.

The county had received only one letter in response (in favor of the expansion south of Millville, from attorney Eugene Bayard, executor for the estate of Elizabeth Chandler Bennett). As County Attorney James Griffin read into the record, the estate was “cash poor,” and coming up short on annual tax bills, because lack of sewer was holding up the sale of a 34-acre parcel to developers Caldera Properties.

Archut said development projects planned within both expansion areas averaged densities that were within the range the county had anticipated (between four and five units per acre, for the big, 3,000-unit plus commercial Millville Township).

The developers would assume all costs for installing the infrastructure, including pump stations and larger than necessary mains, etc., and Archut said developers within the Beaver Dam Expansion (Millville and Ocean View) would also pay $674,000 into an escrow account to fund sewer work along Route 26.

“This will help us get pipes in the ground before the state does their widening project,” Archut pointed out.

Council unanimously approved the Forest Landing Expansion of the Miller Creek district, and approved the Beaver Dam Expansion of the Bethany Beach district by a 4-1 vote, with Council Member George Cole opposed.

According to Cole, sewer capacity might exist, but the roads were nowhere near sufficient to accommodate the additional growth. “There’s too much speculation going on, and the county should not be allowing — or encouraging — that,” Cole said.

Council Member Vance Phillips reiterated his May position — that the district expansion was an example of the county being proactive, in assuring infrastructure would be available as developments came online.

“It is imperative that we plan for this growth — and the years it takes to reach buildout will give enough time for the state to catch up (with roads),” Phillips said. The other council members echoed that viewpoint.

In related business, engineer Douglas Stewart reported the extension of a Stearns & Wheler contract, related to Bearing Construction’s running late on its fall 2004 deadline (expansions at the South Coastal Regional Wastewater Facility, or SCRWF).

However, Stewart didn’t lay blame at Bearing’s doorstep, and said they’d done good work. He asked council to approve an agreement where Bearing would just pick up the additional $22,000 bill for Stearns & Wheler services, rather than the $1,000-per-day past-deadline penalty. Council unanimously approved that contract amendment.

Also at the SCRWF, Stickels announced that Anthony Dellacamera had been selected to receive an award from the Water and Wastewater Operators Association (WWOA) of Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C.

Dellacamera manages the New Solids handling process at the SCRWF, where the county mixes organic biosolids with quick lime (calcium oxide) and pasteurizes to kill the pathogens. This process creates the “South Coastal Blend” — ultimately destined for application on county lands.