Council adopts Sussex County’s comprehensive plan

GEORGETOWN — Sussex County has a blueprint to build its future.

By a 4-1 vote, Sussex County Council at its Tuesday, Dec. 4 meeting adopted the county’s 2018 comprehensive plan update.

Councilmen Rob Arlett, Irwin “I.G.” Burton, George Cole and Michael Vincent supported the adoption; councilman Samuel Wilson Jr. cast the ‘no’ vote.

The 10-year land-use plan is the culmination of more than two years’ worth of work, punctuated with scores of public meetings, workshops and outreach that drew hundreds of comments, suggestions and ideas from residents, business owners, government officials and others on how Sussex County should move forward as a growing community in the decades ahead.

The 280-page plan, which will guide county officials in various levels of decision-making, has yielded more than 100 strategies focused on everything from land use, conservation, and housing to transportation, utilities, and economic development, all of which will be considered for implementation during the lifespan of the plan.

Irwin “I.G.” Burton

The strategies could take form as new ordinances or policies that county officials will weigh in the weeks and months to come.

“This is a momentous occasion for the county as we look forward to the future, one that will bring significant challenges but tremendous opportunity in the decade ahead,” Sussex County Administrator Todd F. Lawson said. “I am very proud of the work by the county council, the planning and zoning commission, our staff, the consultant, and frankly from the public during this two-year journey. It has been a community effort in the truest sense, and what we are left with is a vision I hope everyone is proud of.”

Some of the key strategies in the adopted plan include:

• Ways to preserve, promote and strengthen agriculture’s presence in the county, including through a possible agribusiness district that would add certain permitted ag-related support uses to low-density areas;

• Several initiatives to review and potentially overhaul the county’s land-use code, specifically measures that would focus on wetland protection, forestry preservation, and water quality;

• Forming a county-level transportation committee, which would work with State officials to better monitor, coordinate and prioritize road projects;

• The establishment of economic development zones to focus job creation and private investment in and around targeted communities;

• Stimulating the construction of workforce/affordable housing through a review of existing impediments to such housing, and incentives, including the possibility of a community development fund.

Council’s vote to approve the document is the first major update of the county’s comprehensive plan since the last version was adopted in 2008. Delaware law mandates that all counties and municipalities have a comprehensive plan in place. Counties and municipalities must review and update those plans for State certification every 10 years, while providing yearly updates on the progress of implementation. The adopted plan now moves to the State for certification.

A comprehensive plan, among other things, serves as the standard for how development occurs and how land use is governed in a community over a long-term period. Such plans are used by local governments to not only establish land-use policies and identify growth areas, but also to give consideration to various other community concerns, such as affordable housing availability, agriculture preservation, open space protection, historic preservation, economic development and transportation mobility.

Mr. Vincent, Sussex County Council president, said Sussex County will be a stronger community a generation from now because of the efforts of so many people today, especially an engaged citizenry that crowded meetings, pored over documents and wrote letters and emails to express their ideas.

He extended thanks “to everybody involved for all of the hard work.”

“This was a marathon process, for sure, but it was an important process, nevertheless,” said Mr. Vincent. “And I think we’re all better for it, and certainly Sussex County will be a better place today for all of us and tomorrow for our children and their children.”

The new comprehensive plan will take effect upon certification of the governor of Delaware.

For more information on the Sussex County comprehensive plan, visit www.sussexplan.com.

 

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