Delaware Public Media

Sussex County Council approves ordinance to protect state wetlands

Dec 5, 2018

Sussex County Council approved a plan Tuesday to regulate housing density near state tidal wetlands.


Sussex County measures its housing density by total number of acres, allowing two housing units per acre.

With the passage of Councilman IG Burton’s ordinance, properties including state wetlands will have the wetland areas removed from the calculation. This is meant to reduce development near state tidal wetlands.

In a prepared statement, Burton said it would be irresponsible for the council to ignore the changing environment.

“We have to ask ourselves if we are mining out the beauty and heritage of the county we all know and love,” said Burton. “Addressing the density of development in our most critically environmentally sensitive areas is a small step towards preserving and protecting our environment.”

Burton also addressed concerns about property rights.

“Decisions such as these are difficult for us as elected officials,” he said. “We are faced with deciding between quality of life and property rights. Both are equally important to me as I know they are to all of you. This ordinance is a balance between the two. It maintains property rights while protecting the environment.”

The ordinance was adopted by unanimous vote after some changes to the language.

There was pushback from some local farmers and the Home Builders Association of Delaware. Delaware Center for the Inland Bays was among the measure’s supporters.

Not all wetlands in the county are designated state tidal wetlands.