Overdevelopment needs to stop now

April 26, 2022

The following letter was sent to Sussex County Council with a copy provided to the Cape Gazette for publication. 

I am writing to you to add my voice to the ever-increasing outcry of Sussex County residents to slow the overdevelopment that has been occurring at such an alarming rate in the past few years. I hope council will be moved to take the necessary actions to respond to the pleas of so many constituents from every district of the county.

The council’s mission published in the 2022 county budget states: “Sussex County will balance the welfare of its citizens and its role as an agricultural, tourism and business leader with the most appropriate future uses of land, water and other resources.” Also cited are the council’s long-term objectives as stated in the adopted comprehensive plan, including the following goals:

• Future land use - To provide for balanced and well-planned future growth and development that supports the county’s economic development goals while preserving the rural character of the county and its natural resources

• Conservation - To conserve land and protect natural resources in balance with growth and development throughout Sussex County.

Clearly these two objectives are not being achieved with the current rate of new construction replacing woods, wetlands and farmland throughout the county.  

One need only listen to the extensive and educated testimony given at the public hearing for the Coral Lakes development, which cites the detrimental effect of just one proposed subdivision on environmentally sensitive acreage, to be informed about what is occurring throughout the county.

We are frustrated when we hear that the current county code limits the power of the P&Z commission to deny subdivision applications. Based on my reading, the code does establish certain conditions that can in fact help to accomplish these goals.  

If more stringent language is needed to remove any ambiguity about how to accomplish the county’s stated objectives, then new ordinances must be written immediately to ensure that the current rate of new construction in our environmentally sensitive county stops now.

Please listen to the impassioned appeals of the people who elected you into office. The more people my friends and family speak to, the more we realize that we are far from alone in feeling this way. Please know that the letters you receive or read in the media and the people who attend county public meetings are just a small sample of the population who are concerned, outraged and clearly afraid of what is happening in their beloved Sussex County; who feel powerless about what they can do about it and are praying that their elected officials stand up for them and their quality of life. You are in charge. You can stop this. We are relying on you. The power is in your hands.

Susan Petze-Rosenblum


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