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Important County Ordinances

The County needs to hear from YOU on these important opportunities for better environmental policy.

Check out the resources below for information and to find out how you can help protect Sussex County.

Wetlands and Waterways Buffers

A nice example of a forested buffer implemented along Love Creek.

The County is now considering new rules that would require more vegetated space between wetlands & waterways and new construction. Currently, Sussex County only requires a 50-foot buffer on tidal wetlands and waterways: only half the distance that is required in Kent and New Castle counties and only one-sixth of what is often required in New Jersey.

Sussex County’s current buffer ordinance must be improved to better protect our sensitive wetlands and waterways, prevent intensified flooding and erosion, and reduce pollution. Other counties in Delaware, and the states of Maryland and New Jersey are excellent examples of how more extensive buffers are implemented successfully and have benefited the surrounding communities.


Examples of Forested Buffer Requirements

County Wetlands and Buffers Working Group

The Wetlands and Buffers Working Group (WBWG) was established to review the current regulations related to buffers and respective resources in Sussex County. The County hired the technical experts at RK&K consultants to facilitate these efforts and guide the WBWG to an end goal. Over the course of several months, the WBWG met to discuss the regulations and provide recommendations to County Council.  The Center’s Executive Director, Chris Bason, actively serves as a member of the Wetlands and Buffers Working Group. Visit their webpage, HERE

Get Involved

County Council heard the revised ordinance recommended by Planning and Zoning on January 11, 2022 and suspended the public hearing to continue on February 22, 2022.  The record remains open to submit written comment to Council and persons not providing tesimony on January 11th can provide on February 22.  

For agendas and details, please visit https://sussexcountyde.gov/meeting-calendar

Resources for You

  • Sussex County Proposed Buffer Ordinance HERE
  • Center Recommended Markups to County Buffer Ordinance HERE
  • Center Justification for Markups to County Buffer Ordinance HERE
  • Center Letter to the Editor Regarding Buffer Ordinance HERE
  • Center Presentation to County Council Hearing – January 11, 2022 HERE
  • Center Presentation to Public – January 10, 2022 HERE
  • Center Buffer Infographic – April 2020 HERE
  • Center Buffer Ordinance Factsheet – March 2020 HERE
  • Center Waterfront Property Owner Guidebook & Resource List HERE
  • Center Presentation: Water Quality Buffer Regulations In & Around Delaware HERE
  • Land Use Decision Making and Wetlands Protection: A Guidebook for Public Participation HERE
  • Center Recommendations Report for Water Quality and Wetlands – January 2008 HERE


Permitted Density (ORDINANCE PASSED!)

A flooded view of Fenwick Island just after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

SUCCESS: This ordinance has passed! The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays would like to thank the Sussex County Council and the supporters that advocated for this ordinance, as well as Councilman Burton for his dedication to protecting our County’s environment. Details are available in the meeting information and audio (120418.2.mp3) for the December 4th County Council Meeting, available on the County Website.


Until now, the County has allowed for high housing density in developments that include unbuildable areas, like wetlands! This concentrates homes in developments near sensitive wetlands and waterways, which degrades our natural resources, adds more impervious surfaces (and stormwater runoff) close to our waterways, and escalates the risk of flooding homes and businesses. 

The new ordinance would reduce these effects by subtracting wetlands from the “gross” buildable area. This would reduce the number of homes permitted on areas near high concentrations of wetlands and protect water quality (wetlands act as water filters), preserve natural habitats, and help prevent flooding (wetlands also act as sponges for floodwaters)!


Get Involved

Relevant County Meetings/ Hearings:

For County Council meeting agendas and details, please visit https://sussexcountyde.gov/meeting-calendar

Resources for You


Cluster Subdivision Ordinance (ORDINANCE PASSED!)

The County is now considering a proposed amendment to the cluster subdivision ordinance that would make the superior design standards mandatory for developing cluster subdivisions. The superior design standards protect wetlands and wildlife habitat and are voluntary in the current ordinance. 

Get Involved

Relevant County Meetings/ Hearings:

  • County Council Meeting
    Tuesday, May 14, 2019, at 10:00 am
    2 The Circle, Georgetown, DE

For agendas and details, please visit https://sussexcountyde.gov/meeting-calendar

Resources for You


branded Environmental benefits of cluster subdivision ordinance