• Tue. May 10th, 2022

Planning & Zoning Commission – public service?

Appointed by Sussex County Council, this planning and zoning commission is charged by the people of Sussex County with reviewing and approving development proposals that responsibly guide the development of land in the county.

Accordingly, the commission is engaging with landowners, developers and citizens of Sussex County, judging how best to proceed, balancing the rights and needs of all participants in the process.

As part of this process, the State of Delaware provides coordination support, mobilizing state resources for necessary infrastructure and providing planning guidance to enable a controlled and safe process.

A delicate balancing act, no doubt, but it has gone horribly wrong, and nowhere is this more evident than in the coastal zone, where a massive cash grab is underway. The county council turns a blind eye as their appointees approve development after development. The Delaware state planning guidelines are totally ignored by the commission, and even more outrageously, the commission has made it clear to the development community that the state planning designations are irrelevant in their process, encouraging land development proposals that state valuation is meant to discourage.

Nowhere is this more evident than along Robinsonville Road in Lewes, where pre-approvals will dump thousands of cars on woefully inadequate roads.

Encouraged by President Wheatley, the commission relies on his theory that this area is within the Henlopen Traffic Improvement District and therefore their actions will require the state to repair the roads.

I have no illusions. There’s a lot of money being made here and it’s only at the state level that that money is less compelling. The exclusion of state planning from this process is no accident. This is certainly not President Wheatley’s first rodeo, but he has led this commission to gamble with the lives and safety of the very people of Sussex County who entrust this commission. If his TID theory is even slightly wrong, residents of the coastal zone and their loved ones are at serious risk.

Current elected member of the Coastal Zone Council, Mark Schaeffer, who was elected in 2020 with the support of the pro-development community, is aiding and abetting these developments through his silence. Mr. Schaeffer is eligible for re-election in 2024.

Mr. Schaeffer, people in your neighborhood have noticed. See you at The Circle in Georgetown on Thursday, March 10.

Donna Schmitt