Editorial: Planners fail when planning for Cape Region

December 4, 2018

Sussex County Council recently approved changing maps that will be part of the comprehensive land-use plan to better protect lands east of Route 1 from Milford south to Red Mill Pond.

In discussing the plan, Councilman I.G. Burton called this area a keystone to how Sussex County treats future development east of Route 1.

Any rezoning of this land, he said, would start an unwanted trend. He also said, “The north side of New Road should be AR-1. We should work as hard as we can to preserve it,” he said.

Just days later, Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended council approve an upzoning of 12.5 acres on Old Mill Road, land on the east side of Route 1, not half a mile north of New Road. While not in the protected zone, this is exactly the kind of land that Burton says county council must protect.

The land is zoned AR-1, which allows two units per acre. The commission has recommended approval of upzoning requests that would allow the number of units to grow from 25 to 150 apartments and a 4,700-square-foot office complex. Why?

This planning commission is clearly paying no attention to council, much less to residents, many who opposed upzoning. Many nearby residents recently participated in numerous workshops to improve the congested Five Points intersection, barely a mile south.

Transportation officials have yet to adopt a plan for Five Points, but the upzoning recommended by planning and zoning will do nothing but exacerbate the problems. Infrastructure is already woefully inadequate, and intense development of this parcel is exactly the trend that Burton hopes to avoid.

Traffic improvements already on the books may help, but the number of new homes already approved in the coastal region promises congestion will be a fact of life for years to come.

This commission shows no interest in actually planning for the future of the Cape Region. Any serious planning would exclude all upzoning in the coastal area, but most especially east of Route 1 from Lewes to Milford.

County council should reject this recommendation and deny this upzoning.


  • 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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