Time for change at Sussex council

January 9, 2024

Kudos for your editorial urging the public to educate themselves on the workings of Sussex County government, particularly when it comes to development and growth. The appointed planning & zoning commission is indeed the biggest player in the process, as the editorial points out. However, the key word is “appointed.” Members of the P&Z commission are appointed by Sussex County Council. It is safe to assume that council members only appoint individuals whose development and growth policies correspond to their own. So, as the editorial notes, “the buck stops with the council.” Council is ultimately responsible for decisions made by the P&Z commission.

Council and P&Z commission decisions have resulted in conditions that are clearly unpopular with many residents of our region, especially those who waste countless hours in traffic delays on roads such as Route 24 that were not designed to accommodate the expanding population. Council decisions on development are also straining the resources of the Cape Henlopen and Indian River school districts, and will almost certainly necessitate the construction of new schools and the hiring of more educators. Thus far, council has not even discussed adopting a voluntary school assessment that would require developers to pay a fee to support school construction, a requirement already in effect in New Castle and Kent counties. Taxpayers will have to bear the entire burden.

Three of the five council members will be up for re-election this year. This presents voters with the perfect opportunity to replace the incumbents with new members who will commit to a policy of smart growth and coordinated infrastructure expansion to provide adequate roads and schools to accommodate the existing population and anticipated increases. Although all five council members are currently Republicans, this should not be a partisan matter. The taxpayers of our county deserve to have council members who align their policy decisions with the desires and needs of their constituents, not just influential developers. This has not been the case to date. It is time for a changing of the guard.

Jeremiah Davis
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