Council must reject upzoning at Old Mill Road

July 23, 2019

With stunning disregard for the testimony of Sussex County residents and the established policy of Sussex County Council, Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 3-2 to recommend approval of a major upzoning that could bring 168 apartments to a parcel that otherwise would have about 30 single-family homes.

The developer of the project last year requested rezoning of most of the same parcel on Old Mill Road, off Route 1, a request denied by county council when Councilman I.G. Burton said parcels east of Route 1, in what is now called the Coastal Area, should remain at the base AR-1 zoning to protect farmland, water resources and the environment.

Yet six months later, the developer is back, asking for more units than before and trying to sweeten the deal – and benefit from expedited review – by throwing in a few units the company calls affordable.

Sussex County Council must not be fooled. Council must stick to the policy it has outlined: No upzoning east of Route 1. 

This should be an easy call. Six 42-foot buildings amid residential neighborhoods would make a mockery of existing zoning. 

Service roads that transportation officials have promised in 2025 might relieve traffic that already clogs Route 1 and make more room for traffic already on its way because of the county’s existing two units per acre AR-1 zoning. But to suggest those improvements will somehow be sufficient for six times more units than already allowed is simply not credible.

Property owners can ask, but they have no right to upzone their land. Zoning changes should occur only when they benefit the public welfare.

Who but the developer and a few renters benefits from this project?

As we have previously said in this space, officials should not hand out upzonings that benefit only property owners and developers, while degrading the quality of life for the rest of us.

If they approve this project, with its increased congestion; pressure on essential services including fire, ambulance and healthcare; and degradation of our natural resources, we, the public are being shortchanged.

Sussex County Council must stick to its policy and say no to this upzoning.



  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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