Letter: Speak out on density change at Sussex P&Z hearing

September 11, 2018

I have introduced an ordinance to change the way Sussex County calculates density. Currently Sussex County allows a density on land zoned AR-1 of two housing units per acre. For example, if an AR-1 property is 100 acres, the allowable density could comprise 200 homes. Or, if the same land is zoned MR (which permits four units per acre) the allowable density would be 400 homes. If the same 100 acres were to have 30 acres of unbuildable wetlands, under the current practice the same 200 or 400 homes could still be built.

The change I have proposed would be to remove the 30 acres from the density calculation.  This would allow for 140 homes in the AR-1 district (two units x 70 buildable acres = 140 total units) or 240 in MR district (four units x 70 buildable acres = 280 units).  This calculation goes all the way to 12 units per acre within the HR and C-1 zoning districts.  With possible densities from two to 12 units per acre, minimum lot sizes of 7,500 square feet, townhouses, condos and RPCs, changing the density calculation to exclude wetlands is the right decision. This was mentioned in the 2002 and 2008 Sussex County Comprehensive Plans and it is also mentioned in our newly drafted plan.  It is time to adopt an ordinance that addresses the issue that has been identified for the past 16 years.

This new ordinance just makes sense to me. Allowing the calculation of unbuildable lands to be included as if they were buildable is illogical.  The time to act is now. This ordinance will be presented and open for public input Thursday, Sept. 13, at the Sussex Planning and Zoning meeting in 2 The Circle building in Georgetown. Please plan on attending and giving input to this very important ordinance change.

Irwin G. Burton III
County Councilman District 3

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