On the Doomsday traffic scenario in Sussex

April 20, 2017

The following letter was sent to members of Sussex County Council with a copy submitted to the Cape Gazette for publication.

The Sussex County Council does not now have the power to require developers to provide adequate improvements to county roads prior to new developments going in. Once a new development goes in, the traffic congestion gets worse. Residents in the Lewes–Rehoboth area, especially, are faced with an ever-increasing volume of traffic on county roads.

Currently, Sussex County Council receives about 40 percent of its revenue from transfer taxes paid by developers. Thus, as more developments go in, the council receives more revenue. The need for revenue from the transfer taxes places the council at cross purposes when considering new developments.

The council receives plans and evaluates them with input from the Sussex County Planning Commission, holds hearings to get public input, and then approves or disapproves new developments. Were Sussex County Council to enact an Adequate Public Facilities ordinance, it would give the council the power to require developers to study, to plan for, and to construct road improvements prior to starting a new development.

Kent and New Castle counties already have Adequate Public Facilities ordinances. They can require developers to ensure reasonable traffic flows prior to approving a new development.

A reasonable traffic flow on county roads, especially in the Lewes–Rehoboth area, is important to residents faced with ever-increasing traffic congestion. DelDOT considers traffic to be moving at a reasonable flow if vehicles stopped at traffic lights and intersections are able to move through the lights and intersections within 15 seconds to 40 seconds depending on their place in the line of traffic.

We often encounter wait times well in excess of 40 seconds, sometimes two or three times 40 seconds. On weekends and during the summer, wait times are clearly much worse. It is time for the Sussex County Council to stop letting revenue from transfer taxes affect council's decisions on new developments.

As president of the Woods on Herring Creek and on behalf of our residents, I strongly request that Sussex County Council enact an Adequate Public Facilities ordinance.

Carolyn Ludwig
The Woods on Herring Creek Homeowners Association Inc.

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