Sussex County Council on Dec. 4 adopted the county’s 2018 comprehensive plan update.

The update is the culmination of more than two years’ worth of work, with scores of public meetings, workshops and outreach that attracted hundreds of comments, suggestions and ideas from residents, business owners, government officials and others on how Sussex County should move forward as a growing community in the decades ahead.

The 280-page plan, which will guide county officials in various levels of decision-making, has yielded more than 100 strategies focused on everything from land use, conservation, and housing to transportation, utilities and economic development, all of which will be considered for implementation during the lifespan of the plan. The strategies could take form as new ordinances or policies that county officials will weigh in the weeks and months to come.

Some of the key strategies in the adopted plan include:

— Ways to preserve, promote and strengthen agriculture’s presence in the county, including through a possible agribusiness district that would add certain permitted ag-related support uses to low-density areas.

— Initiatives to review and potentially overhaul the county’s land use code, specifically measures that would focus on wetland protection, forestry preservation and water quality.

— Forming a county-level transportation committee, which would work with state officials to better monitor, coordinate and prioritize road projects.

— The establishment of economic development zones to focus on job creation and private investment in and around targeted communities.

— Stimulating the construction of workforce/affordable housing through a review of existing impediments to such housing and incentives, including the possibility of a community development fund.

The council’s vote to approve the document is the first major update of the county’s comprehensive plan since the last version was adopted in 2008. Delaware law mandates that all counties and municipalities have a comprehensive plan in place. Counties and municipalities must review and update those plans for state certification every 10 years, while providing yearly updates on the progress of implementation. The adopted plan now moves to the state for certification.

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.

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