Sussex County now has comprehensive electronic zoning map

Completing a project from the 2016 fiscal year, Sussex County now has a comprehensive electronic zoning map.

County Administrator Todd Lawson told the county council at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 31, that after learning that the Planning & Zoning Office did not have digital backups of zoning maps nor paper backups, County staff took on the seemingly daunting task of digitizing the records.

“It harkens back to a conversation I had with former Planning Director Lawrence Lank about an issue,” recalled Lawson, noting that Lank had pulled out one the County’s many zoning maps of record to look at a parcel. In noticing the condition of the maps, which had handwritten notes on them, Lawson asked if there were backups. Lank said there were none.

With that as the impetus, Lawson said the four decades of land-use maps have since been photographed, scanned and created in digital form, so as to be part of a permanent record.

Using GIS technology, the new maps show the County’s more than 160,000 parcels, their zoning and other important land-use data, including aerial images, addressing, lot dimensions and various approvals.

The great thing about the project, said Lawson, is that the public can now search the County’s records online, using the County’s online map system.

“As you make decisions in land use, and planning and zoning makes decisions, everything will be kept up-to-date on this platform,” he added.

The county council will consider the map for adoption following public hearings this spring.

To view the map, visit

Council hears from AGH

Also at the Jan. 31 council meeting, Michael Franklin, president/CEO of Atlantic General Hospital, gave the council an annual update.

“You hear about this a lot in the media, and obviously from federal legislation — how to make care about the patients, how to make care about the people who live in your community,” stated Franklin. “A lot of that, for us, is making sure we’re advancing the health of the residents in the community and making sure we’re providing care — not just when people are sick, but becoming part of people’s lives through the healthcare experience.”

Franklin said that over the last 40 years, the Maryland healthcare system had been focused on in-patient care — how to regulate it and keep costs down.

“The new plan is more focused on how we deal with patients — looking at how patients enter the system, how we set up our system so we deal with patients and people in different stations in their lives or illness.”

The goal, he said, is to improve experience and quality of care and reduce patient costs for care.

Last year, AGH had the highest reduction of readmissions in the state of Maryland and was in the top five for fewest total readmissions overall.

Franklin said the hospital needs to look at driving costs out of the system, rather than moving them elsewhere. He said the Maryland system has been successful in driving down cost inflation.

He said the hospital has expanded its women’s health services in Selbyville and are adding physicians in the Ocean View area soon.

In the near future, the hospital plans to open a dedicated 18,000-square-foot cancer-care facility to be constructed on the Berlin, Md., campus.

Currently, AGH employs close to 900 people, with a medical staff of 227. Franklin said their payroll is more than $48 million — all of which stays local.

“I appreciate you coming down,” said Councilman I. G. Burton. “I think it’s something we really need to know about.”