Sussex County talks development, environmental protection with community

GEORGETOWN, Del. – It was a packed house at the Sussex County Council Chambers Tuesday.

Dozens of people from all over the area gathered to discuss one thing: density calculation. It’s a topic that has the community split in two.

Density Calculation determines how many units can be constructed per acre of land, and Sussex County is proposing to take wetlands out of the equation.

Many are expressing support for the proposal.

Michelle Schmidt, the Watershed Coordinator for the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays said, “We’re really excited that it’s being discussed and we really hope that county council decides to move forward with it.”

Others, like Jay Baxter of Baxter Farms Inc. are expressing concern, saying the ordinance could seriously cost them by hurting their property value.

Jay Baxter said, “What we’re after is being able to protect our land and furthermore, be able to protect the equity that’s in our land and our ability to use our land as equity.”

Another concern some have is the potential for urban sprawl.

Jay Baxter said, “If we restrict the amount of houses being built in the county from the eastern side the sprawl is going to migrate westward into our area and that’s something we’re not interested in having to compete with is more houses here.”

Environmentalists say they support the ordinance because it protects Sussex County’s precious wetlands an area they say has been over developed in the last several years.

Schmidt said, “We have not been protecting those lands either so we’re really losing a lot of that sensitive area which provides a lot of benefit for flood control and for nutrient reduction.”

Moving forward, farmers tell 47ABC they would like to continue the conversation with the county about this proposed ordinance and they’re encouraging the county to have some kind of workshop with landowners and engineers to come up with the best solution.

Again, this ordinance has not yet been approved so if you have any concerns you would like the county to hear or maybe you just want to voice your support for the proposal you are encouraged to reach out to council members.

Categories: Delaware, Local News