Frankford to apply for improvement grants

Frankford Town Council took the bull by the horns Dec. 5 when they unanimously decided to apply for community development block grants (CDBG) in an attempt to revamp their community. The grants are earmarked for refurbishments and renovations to homes owned by low-income residents in Frankford.

Currently, four such projects have blessed Frankford streets and more are encouraged take advantage of the grants, which can run up to $15,000. Recipients must be property owners in and permanent residents of Sussex County, with less than $15,000 in liquid assets and limited incomes, based on the size of their families.

“Bottom line, we’re trying to clean up our town,” said Council President Robert Daisey. “It’s pretty obvious that if you have something new next to a piece of junk, then property values decrease. Replacing or renovating a home, naturally, will help.”

Any potential applicants must submit their name by Jan. 1 because project begins in earnest Feb. 1.

In addition to renovating homes, Frankford currently is on a mission to tear down uninhabited, dilapidated homes. Identifying the homes is the first step, and from there the council would contact the homeowner by letter, requesting them to take care of their property.

Daisey commented that the owner of a Mill Street home had complied with no problem He said the town would be willing to pay for the demolition, but if the home were to sell, the town council would slap a lien on the property.

The council expressed interest in preparing for expanding developments and planned communities in the near future.

To avoid the kinds of complications experienced in other communities, the Frankford Town Council wants to set guidelines for how builders and developers would proceed. In a nutshell, the policy is designed to limit development and was perhaps best put by Daisey, who said, “We’ll invite them to the dance, but we’re going to tell them how to dress.”

The first phase of the development guidelines project is identifying potential plots of land whose owners are willing to have then annexed into the town. From there, those planned communities would tap into the public sewage and water, which would have to be updated. The second phase begins with the actual planning and building of a new development.

Brad Whaley, a city planner out of Laurel, comes highly recommended and could possibly head the project.

Also announced at the Dec. 5 council meeting: an open planning and zoning hearing will be held at Frankford Town Hall on Jan. 5 at 6 p.m.

The subject of that hearing: two property owners are, separately, applying to upgrade to medium density zoning and would both raze the current homes on their properties in favor of duplexes. The zoning board has been presented with all of the information on both applications and is prepared to make their recommendation to the council on Jan. 5.