Upzoning equation needs more balance

June 28, 2019

The flurry of upzoning requests continues in eastern Sussex County.

One of the arguments made by applicants at public hearings is that the upzonings are consistent with the county’s comprehensive land-use plan that supports development in state-designated growth zones.

That’s all well and good, but upzonings shouldn’t just be handed out like candy if there are negative implications that come with them such as increased traffic on congested roadways.

At the very least, upzonings should be no worse than neutral when it comes to negative implications. And neutral is not enough. Upzonings should bring more than just employment benefits. We’re not in a high unemployment area. Just the opposite.

At this point we have to import workers to fill the jobs. Upzonings should bring benefits, such as contributions to improve local road conditions and infrastructure, such as schools or emergency services, which feel the pressure of rapid growth.

Additionally, upzonings in growth areas should bring contributions to the preservation of open space in nongrowth areas, especially those areas considered environmentally sensitive or valuable because of proximity to waterways or for public recreation purposes.

The beauty of growth is that it strengthens our economy and gives us infusions of dollars that can be used for the greater community good, and for enhancing and preserving our quality of life.

But if our public officials simply give out upzonings that only benefit property owners and developers, while degrading the quality of life for the rest of us due to increased congestion, pressure on essential services and degradation of natural resources, we are being shortchanged.

Let’s keep our growth going, but let’s guide it in a smart and fair way that benefits all of us, not just some of us. Let’s bring more balance to this equation.


  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Dennis Forney, Publisher Emeritus, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, CoPublisher and Editor; Dave Frederick, Sports Editor Emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, Associate Editor; Nick Roth, Sports Editor; and Chris Rausch, CoPublisher and General Manager.

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