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Editorial: Development report raises concerns

January 4, 2019

Cape Gazette’s senior land-use reporter Ron MacArthur recently provided a comprehensive view of current and pending development in Delaware’s Cape Region. To say that what is underway raises concerns would be a gross understatement.

In our day-to-day travels, residents see many of these projects rising from open lots and fields. But when the list is placed in front of us to see at one time, the impact is far greater.

It’s more clear than ever that we have our work cut out for us. Here are a few of the concerns that arise:

DelDOT is clearly behind the curve in being prepared for what’s been approved and is trying to get caught up with a billion dollars’ worth of projects over the next decade in eastern Sussex County. Will the planned work be enough to improve and then sustain improved traffic patterns?

Commercial development involves creation of much more impervious surface. This particularly wet year shows standing water around new commercial projects along Route 9 between Lewes and Georgetown. We’re a low-lying county. The water can only go so many places. Are existing stormwater regulations adequate in the face of increased impervious surfaces?

And then there are the trees, one of the most distinguishing characteristics of Sussex County. Everywhere we look, trees are making way for different kinds of development. Developers say they will do all they can to preserve trees, but as long as they work within what zoning permits, they are still permitted to take out what will collectively end up as thousands of trees – with no plans for replacing them other than planting a few ornamental trees here and there.

We need to place a value on trees and develop requirements for mitigating against their loss.

One of Sussex County’s first orders of business for the new year should be asking its planners for their list of concerns raised by the growth that is on the way, along with suggestions for addressing them. Many of those concerns should be addressed with ordinances as officials enact the new comprehensive land-use plan.

  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Dennis Forney, publisher, and Laura Ritter, news editor, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, associate publisher.