County must require fees in exchange for upzoning

March 25, 2014

Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission is expected to vote this week on a proposal to rezone a 38­ acre parcel on Route 24 from agricul­tural- residential, AR-1, to medium density, residential planned community. The change would make way for a proposed 115-unit de­velopment, about 30 units more than would be allowed under existing zoning.

This development is in the same area as a proposed 162-acre campground with space for 600 campsites, a proposed new Troop 7 complex and a new 720-student elementary school.

Before the commission and council act, they should take a comprehensive look at all these projects and how they will affect roads and infrastructure.

County officials can’t require state transportation officials to improve roads, but they can use their very significant power when it comes to zoning change requests.

Developers ask for increased density so they can tailor the style of their developments and increase the number of units they sell.

The question is, what does the community get in return?

Route 24, like Route 9, is heavily traveled.

Delays get longer every year – at some point dangerously long for emergency vehicles.

Before approving more density on Route 24, planners must insist on a comprehensive infrastructure study. Once the commission knows the anticipated effects of proposed projects, it can then require developers to offset their share of the costs of necessary infrastructure.

Uncontrolled growth is expensive and serves no one. County planners and council have two choices: say no to further develop­ment, or say yes to development but require developers to fund not only roadwork, but also contribute to other costs, including build­ing new schools.

Sussex County’s two-unit-per-acre zoning is the least restrictive zoning on the Delmarva Peninsula. Before even considering allowing more units than already permitted, Sussex planners owe it to the people of Sussex Coun­ty to determine the impact of the new units and require developers to offset the costs.

  • 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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