By Lynn R. Parks

The Seaford City Council last Tuesday night approved the sale of four lots at the new Western Sussex Business Campus. Planned construction there could bring hundreds of jobs to the area, Economic Development Director Trisha Newcomer told the councilmen.

“This means a great deal to our community,” she added.

KRM Development Corporation, based in Chestertown, Md., is a “full-service developer,” Newcomer said, with facilities in seven states. The company “will handle all phases of development, from beginning to end,” she said.

KRM is purchasing nearly 45 acres in the business park, for $12,000 an acre, or $536,760. The company will also have first right of refusal to purchase the remaining seven lots on the campus.

KRM has agreed to construct a building at least 50,000 square feet in size on one of the lots that it is purchasing. Construction has to start within 18 months of closing on the property, and has to be completed 18 months later. Newcomer said that she anticipates that closing will be held this summer.

The city will construct all roads on the campus, and will install utilities.

The city has also agreed to grant a tax break on the property. For the first two years that it owns the lots, KRM will pay just 50 percent of city property taxes. For the next three years, it will pay 25 percent of the taxes.

After that, the development company will be required to pay the full tax bill. 

The new business campus is being planned for more than 100 acres at the intersection of Herring Run and Ross Station roads, near the Ross Plantation. In December, the Sussex County Council agreed to work with the city in developing the park. The city has also received state funding to help with development costs.

Seaford expands building incentive program- The city of Seaford is expanding a popular program that gives breaks in fees to homebuilders.   

This year, the city had planned to forgive water and sewer tap fees for the first 21 houses that were built in a subdivision where infrastructure was already installed. Building official Mike Bailey told councilmen last Tuesday night that not quite a third through the year, the city has already reached that limit. He recommended that the city open up the program to another 21 builders.

The council agreed to the suggestion by unanimous vote.

In a memo to City Manager Charles Anderson, Bailey said that this is just the third year that the city has reached the maximum number of participating builders since the fee-forgiveness program was started in 2010, as the country was recovering from the Great Recession. Each year, the city offered the incentives to the same number of builders as the number of years post-2000: 10 builders in 2010, 11 in 2011, etc.

In 2013, the full complement of 13 builders took advantage of the program. And last year, after 20 builders took advantage of the program, the city expanded the offer to another 20 homes, all of which were accepted.

This year, 21 homes have been built in Governor’s Grant and in Mearfield. Savings to the builders so far total $38,275.

City’s utility building to get addition- The city of Seaford’s utility building is growing. The city council last Tuesday night approved a bid from Regional Builders, Seaford, to construct an addition on the building, located on Herring Run Road.

Cost is nearly $460,000. Regional had the lowest of seven bids on the project.

Electric Department Director Bill Bennett told councilmen that the city has $600,000 in its budget for the project. Some of the additional money will be used for repairs on overhead doors on the existing building.

Even so, the final cost “will be way under” the budgeted amount, Bennett said.

The city council also approved a contract with engineering firm George, Miles and Buhr to oversee the construction of the utility building addition. That will include site visits, reviewing the shop drawings and answering questions from the contractor.

Cost of those services is $9,845.

Bennett said that completion of the project will take about 120 days. But timing of the start of the project will depend on when the steel to be used in the building can be delivered. 

New city ordinance targets sex offenders- The city council last Tuesday night approved a new ordinance that bans certain sex offenders from living within 500 feet of any school, and within 2,500 feet of any park or childcare facility in the city.

The new ordinance targets people who are registered as Tier III (high risk) or Tier II (moderate risk) sex offenders, under state law. The penalty for violating the ordinance will be a jail term of up to 90 days and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

The ordinance originally banned sex offenders from living with 2,500 feet of schools as well as parks and childcare facilities. But following the first reading of the proposed law earlier this month, the city learned that it is not allowed to have a law that is more restrictive than state law. So it changed the ordinance to be in compliance with state law, which bans sex offenders from living within 500 feet of schools.

At the first reading, City Manager Charles Anderson told councilmen that the law will not apply to people who are already living in restricted space when the law takes effect. It also will not apply if a school or playground is established close a home in which a sex offender is already living.

The city will advertise the new ordinance as required by law. It will take effect 30 days after that.

Anderson said that the city will also notify registered landlords in Seaford, so they are aware of the new ordinance.