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Septic development moratorium coming to New Castle County

Delaware Public Media

A one-year moratorium on new large developments using septic systems is coming to New Castle County.

The moratorium passed by New Castle County Council Tuesday bans new applications for major land developments using septic systems while officials develop the Southern New Castle County Master Plan.

“Just to be clear, it’s a one-year moratorium of major subdivisions on septic systems. So one could build a minor subdivision which is five lots, five houses or fewer,” said New Castle County Land Use General Manager Rich Hall, who advocated for the moratorium.

The legislation points to rapid development in Southern New Castle County and a proliferation of major land development applications proposing septic following a change in DNREC’s septic regulations as reasons the temporary ban is needed.

“It’s sort of a time out. We’ve got all these issues, all these questions,” said Hall. “Should there be more septic, [or] more areas that are served by central sewer? So this year will give us time to answer that question and then figure out what policies we want to address it.”

Hall says planners will consider the fact that septic systems “pollute more per household than the kind of sewer systems the county has in that area.” Planners will also consider development.

“When you extend sewer to some degree you can have denser development. Because it’s served by infrastructure, public services that support that development.”

One council member raised concerns about potential legal challenges to the moratorium from developers, and another wanted the county to have a more concrete research plan.

The moratorium passed unanimously.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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