Georgetown, Del., March 1, 2016: Sussex County is looking at tomorrow today.

County officials on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, announced the start of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan Update, a process that, over the next 28 months, will bring together elected officials, community leaders, planning experts, builders, preservationists, business stakeholders, and everyday citizens in crafting a shared vision for how Sussex County will look a decade from now and beyond.

“This will be a very long, but important, process for all of us to determine where we see our community today and years from now,” County Administrator Todd F. Lawson said. “The County will be actively seeking input from a multitude of stakeholders, through public meetings, focus groups and workshops, to develop a plan that will be a blueprint for this county’s future.”

County Council, along with members of the Planning & Zoning Commission, on Tuesday held an introductory workshop with land use consultant McCormick Taylor, which will lead the comprehensive planning process through the next two years.

The firm, which was selected through a competitive request for proposals (RFP) process in 2015 and has extensive experience in developing comprehensive plans and transportation plans in numerous states, laid out a general timeline for the process and will work closely with County staff, as well as various members of the community, to develop a customized plan for Sussex.

A comprehensive plan, among other things, serves as the standard for how development occurs and how land use is governed in a community over a long-term period. Such plans are used by local governments to not only establish land-use policies and identify growth areas, but also to give consideration to various other community concerns, such as affordable housing availability, agriculture preservation, open space protection, historic preservation, economic development and transportation mobility.

Delaware law mandates that all counties and municipalities have a comprehensive plan in place. Counties and municipalities must review and update their plans for State certification every 10 years, while providing yearly updates on the progress of implementation. Sussex County’s comprehensive plan was last updated in 2008; the next version must be adopted by June 2018.

County Planning & Zoning Manager Janelle Cornwell said the first round of public input sessions for the 2018 update could begin as early as late spring or early summer, after the consultant has reviewed the current plan and various data, with a first draft of the update expected as early as mid-2017.