Posts Tagged ‘Councilman Vance Phillips’

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.

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.