County holds off on density vote

While there was a quorum on the dais, two members of the Sussex County Council were absent from Tuesday’s meeting due to illness, leading the council to delay a vote on a proposed density ordinance.

Councilman I.G. Burton, who had introduced an ordinance earlier in the year to amend the County’s code related to density, requested that the council defer discussion and a possible vote to allow for Councilmen Sam Wilson and George Cole to be present.

“This ordinance has gained a lot of attention — as it should; it’s a big deal,” said Burton. “It’s important, and we should take a very close look at the ordinance and my intent of introducing it.”

The proposed ordinance would alter how the County calculates density within subdivisions — changing it from allowing the total acreage of a parcel (including wetlands) to be considered when calculating allowed density to excluding state wetlands, and instead using only buildable space for the calculation.

During public hearings held on the proposed ordinance, the council heard support, but also opposition, with some members of the public stating they felt its definitions were not clear enough and that the ordinance would devalue farmland.

“I will, through the remaining weeks, continue to work with County staff and our legal staff to ensure the ordinance does meet my intent and amend the code to protect the environment and to protect property rights. That is the balance I am trying to address with this ordinance,” Burton said.

The council is now expected to discuss and possibly vote on the ordinance at its Dec. 4 meeting. The council also held off this week on voting on an update to its Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which will also be brought back next week. It is the second-to-last council meeting of the year.

To read the proposed density ordinance in its entirety, visit


By Maria Counts

Staff Reporter