Ordinance introduction set to address sun-setting extension requests

GEORGETOWN – Authoritative ordinance introduction is in order for Sussex County Council in dealing with developer requests for time extensions on applications set to sunset.

County Attorney J. Everett Moore at County Council’s Nov. 3 meeting said the plan is to have an ordinance draft ready for introduction at the Nov. 10 council session.

“I believe that it is the best practice for the council,” said Mr. Moore, adding that the proposed ordinance “would indicate that this body (County Council) has the authority to deal with applications for extension on a case-by-case basis.”

Discussion and possible introduction of a proposed ordinance relating to the temporary and limited time extensions of land use applications upon written request was on County Council’s meeting agenda for Today, Nov. 10.

As of Jan. 1, 2016, more than 200 land-use applications for subdivisions, residential planned communities and conditional uses are set to expire, or sunset.

County staff has been dealing with requests for time extension individually on a case-by-case basis. As of mid-October, the County has been asked to extend less than 10, according to County Administrator Todd Lawson.

Under the ordinance proposal, the time extension – if the request is granted by County Council – would be for no more than six months on sun-setting applications after Dec. 31, 2015, Mr. Moore said.

Previously, County Council took an across-the-board approach in extending applications. In 2011, County Council went back to Jan. 1, 2009, extending those two years to Jan. 1, 2013. That extension was subsequently extended to the current expiration date, Jan. 1, 2016.

Mr. Moore said that as part of the application process the applicant will have to show that it is “due to conditions beyond the developers’ control that they have not been able … to get their project complete within the required amount of time.”

That would include not having required approvals from various agencies through no fault of the developers/applicants, Mr. Moore said.

The ordinance will also state that all requests must be made “before the sunsetting provision took effect,” said Mr. Moore.

County Councilman Rob Arlett, R-Frankford, asked for timeframe clarification regarding County Council’s acting on extension requests filed prior to the expiration date.

“As long as the application is received in a timely fashion then you could act on it later,” Mr. Moore said.

Once introduced, the proposal would go through the ordinance process that includes a public hearing.

The ordinance will ensure that it is “totally safe for the council to act on it. It would be acted on based upon an ordinance itself,” said Mr. Moore.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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