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RG #6120

 

Little Creek
RG 9015-001-002-UK48-1: Methodist Church, Little Creek

The 1800s

The Town of Little Creek, first called Little Landing, was established where the Little River (earlier called Little Creek) met the public road [currently Route 9]. A draw bridge was built spanning the river as early as 1802.1 The Town was at its height in the nineteenth century when a busy landing for larger ships and also the home port of a thriving oyster fleet were located just to its east on the Delaware Bay. In the twentieth century, as rail travel and then roads became the preferred methods of transportation, and as the Delaware Bay oyster industry declined, growth in Little Creek stagnated. Even today, the Town contains less than 100 homes, along with a post office and firehouse, one church, and less than a handful of commercial buildings.

In 1899, the Town of Little Creek was incorporated. The limits of the Town were identified in the Incorporating Act, and the Town ran north along both sides of the public road from the bridge spanning the Little River to where a road led east to Mahon’s Ditch. The Act specified that the public road leading from the bridge would be called Main Street, and also identified a parallel street to be called Clark Street which today would be Wilson Street. Five Commissioners and an Assessor were to be elected by ballot. Electors were males, age 21 and over, who had paid their taxes. One of the Commissioners was to serve as the President of the Board of Commissioners and was to preside at all meetings, have supervision of the streets and of any persons who are employed by the Town as well as receive complaints of nuisances and any other complaints of citizens. The Commissioners were to meet four times a year, passing ordinances for the good government of the Town. Other Town officials included an Alderman, Constable, Clerk, and Treasurer. The duties of the Alderman and Constable in keeping the peace are specifically laid out in the Act and the duties of the Commissioners in preventing nuisances, and prohibiting practices or situations which would prove dangerous or detrimental to the health or well-being of the Town’s citizens is also specified. In widening or laying out new streets, the Commissioners have the power of condemnation for this purpose, and in the paving of sidewalks, the power to ensure that adjacent property owners bear the cost. Kent County was to allocate $75 towards the maintenance of the public roads within the Town. The Assessor was to carry out an assessment of all males eligible to vote as well as of real and personal property of within the Town. The maximum amount of taxes to be raised in taxes annually was not to exceed $900.From 1899 to today, there have been a number of amendments to the original Incorporating Act.

 

1900 – Present Day

The first, in 1901, clarified that the Commissioners would serve staggered terms with three elected in one year and two the next.3 In 1915, the Kent County allocation for road maintenance was increased to $300 for two years, after which it was to revert to $75.4 In 1921, the Levy Court of Kent County was to provide a $500 allocation for road maintenance for one year.5 The annual cap on taxation was increased to $1,000 in 1927. In the same year, a separate law authorized Little Creek to borrow $3,000 with which to install electric lights in the Town with repayment of the debt to be made through an increase in taxes. This action required approval by referendum vote and both males and females over 21 were allowed to cast votes tied to the amount of taxes which they paid, one vote per $100. It appears that the referendum vote may have failed as this 1927 law was later repealed.6 In 1929, in another amendment to the 1899 Incorporating Act, the limits of the Town were expanded to the north to a point where Main Street met a road to Dover.7 As noted above, in 1935, a law repealed the legislation which had authorized borrowing money to install electric lights for the Town.8 In 1949, the boundaries of the Town were redefined and laid out in metes and bounds. Two cross streets, which ran between the parallel north-south streets were to be opened. This law also included a clause which increased the maximum annual amount of taxes to $1,000.9 This increase had been previously approved in a 1927 law, but perhaps it had never been implemented. In 1967, several sections of the 1899 Incorporating Act were updated. The positions of Alderman and Constable were eliminated, as were their duties. The nearest Justice of the Peace was now charged with keeping the peace in the Town. To assist in keeping the peace, the Commissioners could elect whether to appoint a Police force who would have similar duties as the Kent County Constables. In addition, the powers vested in the Commissioners were clarified.10 A law made several technical corrections to the Act in 1970.11 In 1978, the first major change in the governance of the Town was made when the terms of Commissioners were increased from two years to four years, and the meetings of the Board of Commissioners was increased from four per year to once monthly. Potential voters were also increased when the age was lowered from 21 to 18 and voting was open to both male and female residents. In the same law, the cap on taxation was raised significantly, to $5,000 annually, and some fees were increased.12 In 2005, the cap on the amount of taxes was again increased to $20,000 annually.13

 

For the fully amended text of the current Charter, see http://www.charters.delaware.gov/littlecreek.shtml


CITATIONS in Del. Laws

1 3 Del. Laws, c. 116 (1802) [pp. 249-52]

2 21 Del. Laws, c. 283 (1899) [pp. 532-42]

3 22 Del. Laws, c. 181 (1901) [p. 371]

4 28 Del. Laws, c. 144 (1915) [pp. 442-43]

5 32 Del. Laws, c. 130 (1921) [p. 387]

6 35 Del. Laws, c. 112 and c. 113 (1927) [p. 340 and pp. 341-44]

7 36 Del. Laws, c. 172 (1929) [pp. 527-28]

8 40 Del. Laws, c. 169 (1935) [p. 644]

9 47 Del. Laws, c. 118 (1949) [pp. 184-86]

10 56 Del. Laws, c. 203 (1967) [pp. 664-66]

11 57 Del. Laws, c. 745 (1970) [p. 2228]

12 61 Del. Laws, c. 518 (1978) [pp. 1531-39]

13 75 Del. Laws, c. 197 (2005) [p. 270]

Delaware Laws from 1935 to present can be found online at http://delcode.delaware.gov/sessionlaws/

 

jnl / April 5th, 2019


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