EDITORIAL: Project shows planning needed

Back and forth. Then forth and back.

We’ve all seen the dance between developers and governments play out before us over the years regarding what’s permissable and what’s not concerning zoning laws. Case in point is the recent struggle between developers of the proposed Estuary project and Sussex County government.

Lawyers for the Estuary group argue that their plan falls under the parameters of Sussex County zoning laws, so approval should be a no-brainer. The group is not asking for an “up-zoning” or any flexibility by planning and zoning or the county council, so there is no reason the project should be denied.

However, members of the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) and Sussex County Council argue that the project might conform to written law, but not necessarily the spirit of the law — opining that the law was not particularly designed to take projects of this size into consideration.

Thus, the project currently sits in a state of deferred limbo.

Well, we can see where both sides have valid arguments. The developers invest heavily into purchasing land and comprising plans and feasability studies, and the county must look at laws regarding the rights of individuals to do with their land as they see fit — as opposed to limiting the plans of groups or individuals who buy up massive parcels.

It’s a pickel, but one that must be handled swiftly and with no uncertainty.

We have a planning and zoning commission filled with quality and intelligent individuals. We also have a populace in this area that is flush with smart people who have retired from posts that would qualify them to throw their ideas into the mix. Together, a committee could be formed that looks at a true long-term planning code that would take all instances into consideration — regarding individual rights, the needs of developers to be able to make profitable projects that both employ workers and could reduce housing costs throughout the area and the welfare of individuals to not have the community’s face forever changed by the prospect of unadulterated overdevelopment.

It is an extremely huge project that would require time, money, effort and compromise. It would also take a commitment by all parties that the letter and spirit of the law would be one and the same. This would not eliminate all future arguments, but it would certainly give a starting point.