What is planning?

Planning is the process that considers the physical, social, and economic aspects of a community or region, and examines the connections between these aspects.  For the Sussex County Comprehensive Plan, the planning process will inform and guide how we make decisions that affect the future of our County.

Why do we plan?

It is the responsibility of local government to shape and guide growth in order to preserve and protect our resources, promote economic development, and retain overall quality of life. Effective planning helps to ensure future development will occur where, when, and how the community wants.

What is a Comprehensive Plan?

A Comprehensive Plan, which is required by state law, serves as a long-range policy guide for decision-making regarding the future of the natural and built environment of a community. Essentially it is a blueprint for a community.  The Plan assesses existing opportunities and challenges for the County, and provides insights regarding how trends are likely to impact future growth and preservation activities. Long-range goals and objectives are identified, as well as strategies for implementation. Comprehensive Plans provide  public policy guidance for community elements such as transportation, utilities, land use, recreation, natural resource protection, housing, historic preservation, and economic development.

How is the Plan developed?

Between now and late spring of 2018, elected officials, county and community leaders, planning experts, local residents, and other stakeholders will work together to develop a complete Comprehensive Plan for the County. Ongoing public input will be important for the development of the new Plan. The County will provide opportunities for the public to be involved throughout the entire planning process through public meetings, the project website, and social media in order to obtain information, provide comments and receive feedback.

What is the difference between the Comprehensive Plan and a Zoning Ordinance?

The Comprehensive Plan generally guides land use while the Zoning Ordinance regulates the type, scale and intensity of development that may occur in specific zoning districts. In order to fully understand how any changes to a particular parcel of land may affect the future of the County, the land use changes should be evaluated in context with the Comprehensive Plan’s goals and objectives, and then determine how the land is to be zoned.

What should we consider when planning for the future?

Comprehensive planning is an essential tool used to guide a community’s future.  Areas to consider when planning include:

  • Creating opportunities for residents to establish goals and objectives for their community
  • Identifying trends and strategies to better manage or accommodate change
  • Ensuring strategic growth for the community
  • Promoting sustainable economic development
  • Developing infrastructure and public services that are cost-effective and efficient
  • Preserving natural resources and agricultural lands
  • Enabling other public and private entities to plan their activities in harmony with County and local planning efforts

How often is the Comprehensive Plan updated?

Delaware law requires all counties and municipalities to have an established comprehensive plan. Comprehensive plans must be reviewed and updated every 10 years for State certification. Progress updates of implementation are provided to the State on a yearly basis. Sussex County’s last comprehensive plan was updated in 2008, and the next version will be adopted by June 2018.

What is the planning horizon for this Comprehensive Plan?

The County Comprehensive Plan is a forward-looking document and will consider a vision for the County to the year 2045.  The 2045 planning horizon was chosen to be consistent with other long-range planning efforts taking place in the County.

How is the Plan implemented?

Once a Plan is approved and adopted, the next step is implementation of the Plan.  A good plan is one that includes a range of short-, mid-, and long-range implementations steps that are carefully laid out with strategies and resources necessary to execute them. While it’s ultimately up to the County to implement the plan, cooperation from strategic partnerships is also required.

How can I get involved?

Your input will help develop a vision for the County in the Comprehensive Plan.  This website is designed to provide you with information about the planning process and a means for you to voice your opinions.  Please feel free to use these pages to familiarize yourself with the project and also watch the schedule for future public meeting information. Contact us.