Change to Delmar area land use plan approved by county

Change to Delmar area land use plan approved by county

A revision to the Sussex County future land use map, which had been opposed by state officials and some residents, was approved Tuesday by Sussex County Council. It was an issue we covered in depth in previous stories.

The discussion is loaded with confusing zoning jargon but the gist of it is that the county, at a local developer's request, changed the plan to allow higher density development in the future. The state planning office had objected to this, saying it would be too drastic a change for the area and the county should stick to the original plan.

The county, for its part, says the map was accidentally changed in the 2018 comprehensive plan. Planning Director Jamie Whitehouse told Council Tuesday that computer software they were using had changed the draft plan because of how it was zoned. As it's being explained, the computer had multiple options for that change and went with the low density option, which County Council was not aware of and did not approve at the time. It did not match the plan for the area from the 2008 plan.

Council President Michael Vincent said several times Tuesday that he simply wanted to restore the plan to the 2008 version. Council unanimously voted to make the change Tuesday.

Previously, planning officials said the state might withhold funding for development projects in the area if the county changed the plan.

“If a county or municipality does not follow that plan ... we will redirect that funding to places where local governments are following their plans," David Edgell, director of the Office of State Planning Coordination, previously told the Delaware Independent.

It remains to be seen if the state will buy Sussex County's framing of this move as a necessary fix. The next step now that the county has voted for the change is that it will go back before state planning officials for review, according to assistant county attorney Vince Robertson.

For more on this, read Tony Russo's in-depth reporting on this issue and what it means for the area.

What to know as Sussex weighs changes to growth plan for Delmar area
It was supposed to be a simple process. Robert Horsey, a Laurel developer, wanted to plan a large-scale project for an unincorporated area south of Delmar. The original plan had fallen through during the financial crash of 2009, and Horsey petitioned for a change to the current comprehensive plan th…