Ellendale Area Working Group
Next meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, September 14, 2004. Because Ellendale Volunteer Fire Company is also scheduled to meet that evening, the Project Team will seek to reschedule and advise Working Group members. [The next meeting was rescheduled for Monday, September 13, 2004, at 7:00 p.m., at the Ellendale Volunteer Fire Company Main Hall.]
To Working Group Members
Bob Kramer introduced himself as the facilitator for the Ellendale Area Working Group and welcomed the members and citizens attending the meeting. He introduced the project video, “The Time to Act is Now.” He stated that the video was not about solutions but rather about a vision for the future. He further stated that we are here tonight to initiate the discussion of possible solutions. The attendees viewed the video. At the conclusion of the video, Mr. Kramer had the Working Group members introduce themselves and indicate their affiliation. He also asked the remainder of those in attendance to do the same thing.
Mr. Kramer introduced Monroe Hite, DelDOT’s Project Manager for the US 113 North/South Study. Mr. Hite again welcomed the members, thanked them for accepting the challenge of participating in the Working Group, and introduced the Ellendale Town Council members in attendance. He stated that the current study was initiated in 2003. There are four working groups throughout the US 113 corridor: Milford, Georgetown, Millsboro-South, and Ellendale. He stated that the most important role of the working group is to advise DelDOT, but he emphasized that the advice of the working group will be one source of input for DelDOT and the Federal Highway Administration, along with the views of the general public and the environmental regulatory agencies. The US 113 North/South Study is currently sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, and federal funds are expected to be used for the implementation of the study and its recommendations.
Mr. Hite briefly mentioned some "housekeeping" issues:
Mr. Kramer asked that members check their name and address information on the Brown Sheets, provided to them at the start of the meeting, and return with any corrections to Andrew Bing before leaving the meeting.
Mr. Kramer briefly presented the Working Group Guidelines (see Tab 1 of notebook). He stated that "how we treat each other" is generally basic, common sense of which we occasionally need reminding. He explained that generally we will work with the “sense of the group,” but we may sometimes vote to determine the sense of the group. A “super-majority,” or 75% vote of the members present, will be required for approval of an action. Working Group recommendations to DelDOT will require a 75% affirmative vote of all members—in this case absentee votes will be accepted. He stated that all working group meetings are open to the public. The working group is part of the public involvement process for the US 113 study. He expressed some words of caution concerning expressing “opinions of the working group” to the public when the group has not yet voted or otherwise formally expressed those opinions. Finally, Mr. Kramer asked that the members review the Working Group Guidelines and be prepared to ask questions and discuss them at the next meeting.
Ed Thomas provided a summary of the Listening Tour that the Project Team has conducted in the Ellendale area (see tab 4 of notebook). Some highlights of what the Project Team heard:
After a brief break, David Nutter of Nutter Associates presented the Draft Ellendale Comprehensive Plan. He prefaced his remarks by indicating that the US 113 Study inaugurated a new era for the development of the Town of Ellendale. He further stated that a Town Hall meeting earlier in the year, at which over 110 people attended, resulted in a Vision for Ellendale, which he proceeded to read. He stated that historically transportation improvements have been “spark-plugs” for economic development in the Ellendale area. He stated that potential improvements to US 113 and planned development in the vicinity of the US 113/SR 16 intersection present an opportunity to extend the town limits to the west, to extend services such as sewer and water to the west, and to create a “gateway” to Ellendale. Using a variety of maps, he reviewed Ellendale’s proposed annexation plan, indicating that properties west of US 113 were the focus of the proposed annexation. East of town, the proposal is for preservation of the town and little annexation in this direction is proposed. The overall themes of the Comprehensive Plan are the preservation of farmland, expansion of the forest system, and the use of the abandoned Queen Anne’s Railroad right-of-way as a greenway trail with the hope that it would be made part of the American Discovery Trail which runs from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. He also reviewed plans for the redevelopment of the center of town to be known as Railroad Square. He explained that additional income from taxes produced through economic development would fund the additional services needed. He also identified the potential to apply “traffic calming” measures on SR 16 through Ellendale and indicated that Old State Road was in need of sidewalks. He stated that copies of the draft plan are available to the public, a submission of the draft plan to state planning officials will be made on August 3, 2004, and he expects a public workshop on the plan to be held in mid-September 2004.
Robert Garey asked Mr. Nutter about the Houseman property. Mr. Nutter identified the location of the property on his display maps – north of Ellendale – and explained that the property had been recently designated for the farmland preservation program.
Rev. Richard Ransom asked about the location of the Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church and the plans for that location. Mr. Nutter identified the church’s location – north of SR 16 and east of Old State Road – and stated that the Plan recommends replacing the deteriorated buildings around that location with a small park and an improved bus stop. Rev. Ransom asked how the community could move that proposal forward. Mr. Nutter responded that the community can support the adoption of the Plan and convey its interests to DART regarding the bus stop improvements.
Mr. Thomas asked if any new developments are currently in the works in the Ellendale area. Mr. Nutter responded that Integrity Development, Inc., represented at the current meeting by Colby Cox, is planning a mixed-use development in keeping with the Livable Delaware Initiatives for the large parcel northwest of the US 113/SR 16 intersection. He also discussed the potential for development of the Short property in the southwest corner of the same intersection. [Mr. Short was in attendance at the meeting as a member of the Working Group. His Real Estate representative was also present.]
Joe Wutka addressed the group and stated that an Environmental Constraints map would be sent to the Working Group members in August 2004. The members were asked to review the map to identify any environmental resources that might be overlooked and to identify any particular areas of concern.
Mr. Wutka explained that the “Ellendale Area” for the US 113 study extends along US 113 from Staytonville Road/Fleatown Road (Road 224) to Wilson Road (Road 244). The Project Team is concentrating on improvements to the existing alignment of US 113 that would convert the road to a limited access highway. He presented six strategies in our “On-Alignment Toolbox” that may be considered or recommended in the Ellendale Area to achieve that goal:
A citizen asked if this study will also address US 13. Mr. Hite replied that a separate plan is in place for US 13 and that the current study will address only US 113. The citizen followed by asking, if US 113 is improved, will traffic move from US 13 to US 113? Mr. Hite responded that it is possible that US 113 will attract more traffic and that issue will be considered during the study.
Mr. Wutka stated that at the next meeting [September 13, 2004], the Project Team will bring maps of alternatives for the Ellendale Area and the Working Group members will have an opportunity to review them in detail and comment on them in a “marker session.”
Mr. Hite then highlighted the various Capital Transportation Program (CTP) initiatives in Sussex County. Mr. Hite pointed out that DelDOT is considering Transportation Enhancement funds to address the sidewalks along Old State Road, mentioned earlier by Mr. Nutter, and along SR 16. DelDOT’s Division of Planning will be arranging a meeting in the near future with the Town to initiate the project. Mr. Hite also stated that he would ask a DART representative to the next Working Group meeting to discuss transit stop at the SR 16/Road 213 intersection. Mr. Hite indicated that the US 113 study is just one of many projects in Sussex County and that the recently approved CTP included over $430 million dollars in authorized funds for Southern Kent and Sussex Counties.
Mr. Nutter introduced Glen Steckman, Town Manager for Laurel, DE, who is attending the meeting as a citizen. Mr. Steckman stated that he was “here to listen.” He explained that he has worked extensively with small towns in preparing them for anticipated growth. He cautioned that growth is coming to Sussex County. Mr. Hite added that Ann Marie Townshend of the Delaware Office of State Planning Coordination is on the Working Group and is expected to attend meetings in the future.
Mt. Kramer asked if there were any further questions from the Working Group. Mr. Garey noted that enabling the movement of agricultural equipment is necessary to maintaining the agricultural character of the community. He explained that agricultural equipment movement is not enabled by the recently constructed SR 1 south of Dover: the 70 mph speed limit means that traffic is moving too fast to allow the slow moving equipment to share the road.
Mr. Kramer noted that this topic should be raised again during the marker session in September 2004, because land use and transportation need to work together. But he reminded the attendees that comments on the land use recommendations in the Draft Comprehensive Plan should be referred to Mr. Nutter. In September we will focus on the transportation needs and ideas for the Ellendale Area.
The meeting concluded at 9:15 p.m