Cape Gazette

Tuesday Editorial

Public servants must remember who they serve

Feb 25, 2014

Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission is considering a proposal to rezone a 38-acre parcel along Route 24 from agricultural-residential to medium-density residential planned commu­nity. That means instead of two units per acre, if the zoning change is approved, the devel­oper could build 3.3 units per acre.

That was not good news for a man who lives in the area and is aware of traffic prob­lems on Route 24. In carefully proposed testi­mony during a recent hearing on the proposed zone change, he put the issue succinctly: “I’m not against development in the area, but I’m against a change of zoning that allows for more units, compounding traffic problems on Route 24,” he said. He also called for a broader infrastructure plan to support future development in the area.

The citizen’s remarks are reasonable – and right in line with the thinking of many Cape Region residents. But his testimony drew only sarcasm, with one planner blaming the region’s traffic problems on state transporta­tion officials.

It’s time for county planners to realize that ploy just doesn’t work anymore.

Planning officials and county council, not DelDOT, are responsible for land-use decisions. It is quite simply irrational for county officials to expect DelDOT to build roads anywhere council decides to allow development.

As our region becomes ever more con­gested, county planners and council have two choices: say no to further development, or like other jurisdictions nationwide, say yes to development but require developers to fund the necessary road and traffic improvements as a condition of approving the projects.

Sussex County’s two-unit-per-acre zoning is already the least restrictive zoning in any county on the Delmarva Peninsula. Changing zoning to allow even more units – without proper infrastructure – is misguided.

Even more misguided is questioning the insight of citizens who take part in the land­use planning process. Council is elected and planners are appointed to serve and listen to the people of Sussex County, not to quiz them on the nuances of state and local government.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Greg and Terri Kordal | Feb 27, 2014 12:03

Kudos to the Gazette editorial board for speaking out on this critical issue.  Their point of view does translate to other pending local development projects - specifically the Love Creek RV park.  The same citizens have spoken out on this matter with similar response from local and state government.  P&Z dismissed almost all of the opposition testimony in that case as non-expert.  As the editorial above states - these officials are elected/appointed to serve and listen to the voters - not insult them.  Development must be carefully considered and fit the area.  An RV park on Love Creek in the midst of schools and residential communities is not a fit.  County Council - please listen to the people and reject the RV park.

Posted by: Marion Gentul | Feb 28, 2014 13:52

While thoughtful comments and suggestions are dismissed unless they are deemed "expert," one wonders what are the "expert" qualifications that P&Z members possess that makes some of them feel entitled to quiz and insult the citizens most affected by their decisions. The Sussex County Government website lists the 5 members but does not provide any information about them. Many county governments require P&Z members to take courses, and when passing these courses, at least give the citizens they serve some degree of confidence about how those decisions are made. What makes our P&Z members "experts?" If they are so qualified as to dismiss citizen testimony, then how about some transparency as to their qualifications and expertise? Are there no minimum professional or educational requirements for this position -  is it all just based on "who" you know?

Sussex County needs an educated, qualified/certified county planner, and the gentleman who was insulted at the P&Z meeting should be issued an apology. 

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