Anderheggens: Sussex council needs to delay changes to zoning


Sussex County Council is very close to possibly approving a proposed master plan zoning ordinance that allows new rules for developers to build mixed-use communities (residential and commercial) over 200 acres. Everyone in Sussex County should be incredibly concerned and terrified that the council may approve this prior to implementation of the in-process Planning & Zoning provisions being discussed as a result of several recent P&Z/council workshops. Among other things, these in-process provisions, when implemented, will (1.) improve the definition of open space; (2.) improve requirements for perimeter buffers and forest preservation; and (3.) clean up the definition of “superior design” to remove reference to requirements that simply must “be considered.”

In addition to needing to take advantage of the above three items in progress, the current proposed MPZ document has many issues that must be addressed before approval, including:

  • An irresponsible requirement for only 10% open space. That is incredibly insufficient, particularly when the current county definition of “open space” includes stormwater ponds and perimeter buffers.
  • Vague language that includes many clauses such as “where possible” or “should” or “to be considered,” as opposed to “must.” We do not need to “give developers flexibility.” We need to provide rules that need to be followed.
  • With retail spaces potentially being traffic magnets, requirements on the traffic implications to feeder roads must have written requirements.
  • Respecting the state Preliminary Land Use Service’s “Level 4” investment level designations, which identify areas not to be developed.
  • While the stated intent of the master plan zoning is for walkable/bicycle-friendly communities, the requirements for bike paths and sidewalks are lacking.

There is no urgency for council to approve this new ordinance, other than a self-imposed deadline, unless, of course, some developer is chomping at the bit for this to get approved, so they can sneak something by. Please write to Sussex County Council to ask to postpone this ordinance until after there has been enough inspection and correction to make it an ordinance that is valuable, as opposed to detrimental, for Sussex County residents.

Susan and Chris Anderheggen


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