Posts Tagged ‘Councilman George Cole’

Councilman throws DART under the bus

August 30, 2010

It appears a bus rider at this stop along Route 9 near Harbeson took care of the seating arrangements.

Sussex County Councilman George Cole went off on DART during a recent discussion of transportation projects in the county. He was extremely critical of the way the state’s bus system is run. “They need help,” he said. He said bus stops are poorly identified, put in odd places and there is nowhere for people to sit when they are waiting. He said some of the stops actually put those waiting for buses in unsafe situations.

“And I don’t see anyone on the buses,” he said.

That might be going a bit far. Although the buses are not used as a source for mass transit as they are in big cities, officials say rider ship this year is way up. The buses are important to those who rely on them.

I do agree with Cole about the placement of some of the stops. He was questioning a stop at the end of Fred Hudson Road near Bethany Beach, which is a little off the beaten path. “It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen,” he said.

I see a few, like one at the intersection of Fisher Road and Route 9, that are also a little out of the way (see the photo).

Let’s face it, people in this area are used to driving cars everywhere. The majority of those who use the buses are foreign students who don’t have cars, those who need to get to work without any other transportation and those who have lost their licenses.


Glad to live in Sussex

June 24, 2010

You really have to be there to appreciate it. Some of the strangest conversations and comments emanate from the Sussex County Council chambers.

Take for example comments from the June 15 meeting.

During a debate about a time extension for a project, Councilman George Cole became perturbed with President Vance Phillips.  Cole wanted council to vote then and there against granting another time extension, but Phillips pushed for a deferral because one member of council was on vacation.

Cole went along with it and said, “I don’t want to see standards lowered any more under your reign of terror.”

Phillips just smiled.

Then there was talk about the camel. Councilman Sam Wilson said the state is like a camel sticking its nose in the tent, which is the start of the camel wanting to come inside the tent. The tent, of course, represents Sussex County.

Cole agreed, but went a tad further during a discussion of pending legislation that would require the county to submit all zoning ordinances to the state Office of Planning Coordination. He said the camel’s ears, neck and nose are already in the tent as they look at ways to take over land-use decisions from the county.

During the June 22 budget public hearing, Wilson took exception when a taxpayer questioned why her annual sewer bill was more than $500 when others were paying less. She was also confused about why she paid a front-foot assessment fee on land she doesn’t own.

It gave Wilson an excuse to vent because it appeared his comments had been bottled up inside him for quite awhile.

Wilson disagreed that her sewer fee was an exorbitant amount. He said putting in your own system and maintaining it would cost tens of thousands of dollars.

“I hear you, but you are almost getting a free ride,” Wilson said, adding the manufactured homeowner pays about $40 in annual property taxes (with school taxes of about $500).

Wilson also had words for those who complain about the county. “People come here, and they want more services and more government. I tell them to go back home, and then they’ll come back and be glad to live in Sussex County,” he said.

Time to cut some of those meetings

May 20, 2010

It’s time for Sussex County Council to stop meeting.

Councilman George Cole once said any day the council doesn’t meet is a good day for Sussex County. It’s time for his words to become reality.

Council meets every Tuesday with occasional time off for holidays and vacation periods. In all, there are about 42-44 meetings each year. Do they really need that many meetings?

Over the past few months, a few meetings were almost a waste of time. The May 11 meeting was over in 20 minutes.

No one would complain if council removed one meeting a month from its schedule. With the emphasis on cutting expenses, here is a way to trim some fat.

If Phillips runs, he will need a strong kick

January 3, 2010

Vance Phillips

The onset of 2010 is sure to begin campaign chatter. Not to get lost in the sauce is the Sussex County Council election. Council President Vance Phillips, R-Laurel, and Vice President George Cole, R-Ocean View, are both up for reelection.

The pair, although they disagree on almost every issue, has the most experience on council by far. Cole has been on council since 1986 and Phillips since 1998.

The combined experience of three other council members is less than three years.

I haven’t heard either one say they won’t run again, although Phillips is always looking up the ladder for higher office. While on the outside it would appear both are a lock for another 4-year term, it may not be that simple.

There is a ground swell under way in eastern Sussex County for some major changes in the way council does business, starting with cleaning house of members who don’t buy into their platform, which includes less development.

Phillips’ district is one of the strangest in the county because it stretches from west to east, so he is elected by voters in the South Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island areas, as well as those in Dagsboro, Millsboro and Selbyville and Delmar and Laurel. Cole’s district is totally on the east side of the county around the Inland Bays, including Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Long Neck, Millsboro, Ocean View and Oak Orchard.

There is also a ground swell to get more representation on council from the east side of the county, which could include the addition of two at-large members. Legislation in that direction has never gone far in the General Assembly.

It might not be a bad idea to have council elected as at-large members. They can still represent their district, and hand out councilmanic grants, but they are then beholding to everyone in the county.

Easterners argue that the powerbase of the council is on the west side of the county with three members living west of Route 113. A vast majority of the decisions made by council involve projects and issues on the eastern side in the two districts they have no real stake in.

Of the two, Phillips will have to work the hardest to get back on council.
Phillips’ stronghold is around his home base of Laurel, Bethel and Delmar where many people with long-standing rural roots share his strong conservative values and strict adherence to property rights.

That is the not the case among many of his eastern Sussex constituents. Many are transplants who do not share Phillips’ beliefs and are critical of his record of voting for most subdivision, rezoning and conditional-use applications.

Cole, on the other hand, has a track record of questioning development in the environmentally sensitive developing district. Although he doesn’t vote against all applications, he votes against a high percentage.

George Cole

One of the hot campaign issues will be development in eastern Sussex County.

One also has to wonder how the councilmanic districts will change based on the 2010 Census. There is no doubt they will have to change with the dramatic population increase in central and eastern Sussex County. The powerbase may move east.

Get three votes and do what you want

December 14, 2009

Living by the motto get three votes and do whatever you want, Sussex County Council goes about the business of running county government.

It’s hard to pin down the council. Although members claim council is the bastion of the land-use process, that is not the total truth. Yes, council has the final say, but DelDOT makes all traffic decisions, and the Sussex County Conservation District makes all drainage and water decisions, two key components of the land-use process. Most complaints during public hearings hone in on water and traffic issues.

People are frustrated when they try to ask questions about traffic or drainage, and the buck gets passed. All of those decisions are done outside of public purview and with limited county input and virtually no citizen input.

It’s a strange system when you step back and really study it. The role of the state in the process only complicates the system.

Councilman George Cole calls council meetings the best show in town. He’s right.