The Lone Ranger and Other Important Things                                                    

Joe Conaway

I’ve spent a great deal of my life in elected and appointed politics, starting way back in 1973 when I was appointed as the second Sussex County Administrator.

I came out of education as the then-principal of Woodbridge High School and began a career that has extended almost fifty years in politics. All of that is so much fluff, but I say that, so you understand that I am not a stranger to the profession that we call politics.

I also say that because, as Chairman of the Sussex Economic Development Action Committee, SEDAC, I have maintained a public non-political view when it comes to SEDAC positions.  

SEDAC is a non-partisan organization, and its growing membership is made up of all political parties, all ideologies, left, right and moderate thinking businessmen and women.

Today it continues to be the best example of the “Delaware Way” as we all work together to do what is best for the people we represent, while understanding that the Art of Politics is really the ability to compromise. Our extremely diverse membership continues to put aside political and policy differences to get something done.

As a result of this, our membership has grown from 12 to over 76 members; these members are individual business owners or organizations that include thousands of employees, union members and independent contractors in Sussex County, and yet we are able to come together to help improve the quality of life in Sussex County.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the same could be said of all who claim the same goals? Just sayin.’ 

SEDAC continues to pursue improved medical services here in Sussex. The passage of a better funded medical education law last year was only the beginning of solving these problems. For over a year now, we have been discussing a medical school for Delaware. We now know it must be a good idea because New Castle County officials are talking about doing the same thing, but only in New Castle.   Go figure. Each of our local hospitals is exploring resident programs for their facilities and the next logical step would be a medical school and what better place than here in the largest county in Delaware? We do know that there are other groups who are exploring this possibility as well as other facilities and medical education improvements in Sussex. SEDAC stands ready to assist with others in this heavy lift. How about The Delaware School of Medicine, Sussex County, Delaware? Has a great ring to it!

SEDAC continues it’s support for growth that promotes housing and jobs here.  

We endorsed an apartment project in Georgetown known as the Ponds that has been approved by the mayor and council of Georgetown.

Finally, we would like to discuss a major problem developing in our county that is being caused by the overreach of a state bureaucrat who is the Director of the Office of State Planning “Coordination.”  

Back in the early two thousands, under the leadership of the Minner administration, a great land-use initiative was begun.  The law created a review committee known as PLUS, short for preliminary land use service. The committee’s SOLE responsibility was to “COORDINATE” the state responses to rezonings, conditional uses, site plan reviews, subdivisions, and annexations throughout the state.

The committee was to comment on permits needed and State regulations that applied, but nowhere in the law was the State Office of Planning Coordination given any authority to reject or deny any application brought before it. In fact, the law actually says, “Nothing in this subchapter SHALL be construed to deny local jurisdictions their final decision – making authority over proposed local land-use planning actions.”

Today, more often than not, the State Coordinator will reply to these applicants that their project is denied by the State, even before the required public hearings have been held, clearly seizing authority the Director of Coordination does not have. To his credit, the director has agreed to meet with SEDAC membership to discuss this issue and, hopefully, return to the days when the PLUS process accomplished what it was created to do. I will let you know if we “return to the golden days of yesteryear” when we hear the cry, “Hi Ho Plus”!