County planner critical to orderly growth

June 25, 2013

A pair of recent hearings on Castaways at Massey’s Landing RV Camp­ground drew conflicting testimony about nearly every aspect of the project.

The applicants say they have a perfect set­ting for a campground; opponents say the area is residential and should remain residential. The applicants say a 2005 traffic study shows Long Neck Road can handle traffic from the proposed park; opponents say the study is outdated and does not take into account a critical intersection: Long Neck Road and congested Route 24.

The hearing also revealed that the many manufactured homes in parks surrounding the proposed campground are not technically considered dwellings under part of county code, which defines manufactured homes as vehicles. As one resident who lives along Long Neck home testified, “These are our homes, if you consider them dwellings or not.”

The Castaways project requires a zoning change. Zoning is in place to protect everyone who decides to invest in an area and make it their home or business, so changes in zone must be rare. They must also be defensible; zoning changes set a precedent that could make it difficult to deny future zoning-change requests.

If county officials decide to approve this zoning change, at the very least they must take into account all those who already call the area their home and offer the protection of wider buffers.

But lurking behind this decision is a much simpler one. All sides in a dispute can hire experts, and all sides will offer strong reasons to support their opinions. What is severely lacking is a voice representing Sussex County: the voice of a paid county planner whose job it would be to raise significant questions and propose answers when projects with conflict­ing interests arise. A planner would not make decisions but would advise county officials on whether the project will promote orderly growth in Sussex County.

Growth is essential for a healthy economy, but managing growth is critical. It’s long past time to hire a county planner to promote orderly growth and protect the interests of all Sussex residents.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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