Agriculture should be considered in all applications

September 15, 2023

I find the recent article titled "Sussex council denies solar application" to be very exciting! It is the first sign I've seen that Sussex County Council values agriculture, and prefers it to solar farms. I have nothing against solar farms; in fact, I think they're an excellent thing. They provide something we need – electricity – without spewing pollutants into our air or our water supply.

Rather, I am excited that county council is capable of saying no to development of farmland!

"Councilman Doug Hudson said officials should take a closer look at the locations of the proposed solar farms. ‘There have been a lot of arrays requested, and depending on where the application is intended to go, we should keep them in mind with a lot of scrutiny and keep in mind farming,’ he said. Hudson said the parcel is important to farming when making a motion to deny the conditional-use application, with council voting 5-0 against the proposal."

Once set up, a solar field doesn't generate traffic or sewage or need drinking water delivered to it; it doesn't need additional seats in classrooms K-12, more teachers and aides and administrators and bus drivers; it doesn't need medical care, or emergency services. It doesn't pollute our water, which still needs a lot of cleaning up, or our air, which is east of an incredible number of things that spew pollutants.

I think there is general agreement among residents that western Sussex County's infrastructure lags years behind its recent population growth. County council should scrutinize every project developers bring up in light of both the need to "keep in mind farming" and to continue to promote projects that will give us the infrastructure we need for our current population. Most other places have a grid of roads and highways; there are always alternative ways to get from point A to point B. There is no set of back roads to get around Route 24, for example, and only one alternative to Coastal Highway south of Five Points.  

I hope county council members will consider it their job to scrutinize other kinds of development that seek to replace farming with more housing. They should favor projects that develop housing for ordinary people, people who grew up here and work here. Only permit it near the arterials, where bus service might make it possible for a young family to survive with only one car.

County council, you're responsible. The rights and reasonable expectations of the larger community outweigh the rights of developers who wish to build housing unaffordable to locals without a few decades of urban home equity to put down and significant retirement income to pay a mortgage. We need affordable housing designated for local employees.

Land far from highways should not be developed until the land along the highways is well used.

And, please, also keep in mind our marshes, forests and all the other natural features that should be preserved, not destroyed. They're just as important as the agriculture.

Wyn Achenbaum
Rehoboth Beach


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