Meeting challenges with opportunities
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, or perhaps because of it, development in Delaware’s Cape Region continues at a robust pace.
Numerous residential, commercial and industrial projects are underway in and around Lewes, Milton and Rehoboth Beach, pressuring not only our roads, but also the stock of available employees. This is good for the local economy, but challenging as well.
Many years ago, an Annapolis-based land-use consultant named Bruce Galloway assisted Lewes and Rehoboth Beach governments with planning efforts. Knowing the attractiveness of the resort communities, the natural amenities including parks and beaches, the emerging trails system, and Delaware and Sussex County’s low taxes, Galloway sounded a cautionary note. Be careful, he said, about making your communities too nice. It’s not easy to keep people away from a good thing, and they will come.
His vision was not flawed, especially in this time of corona when people are leaving metropolitan areas looking for nice places to live and raise families. Delaware’s Cape Region and the entire Delmarva Peninsula with its uniquely pleasant, temperate climate check lots of the boxes on their lists. Add Sussex County’s permissive agricultural-residential zoning allowing two units per acre by right for property owners, and it’s not tough to envision strong growth for many years ahead.
No one is suggesting that we should stop working to improve our communities and county. The surging economy and a massive national infrastructure program on the horizon are bringing great opportunity if managed properly. Rehoboth Beach, for example, is looking at long-discussed and needed streetscape improvements for Baltimore and Wilmington avenues. The strong economy and potential federal infrastructure money may provide funding sources for shovel-ready projects. It’s important for Rehoboth to solidify those plans and get them in the pipeline sooner rather than later.
Delaware and Sussex meanwhile need to take advantage of this rising economic tide to aggressively improve our transportation infrastructure, preserve more and more farmland, and protect and purchase more publicly accessible open space so we don’t have to fear making our part of the world too nice.