Georgetown - For most of the 2000's cluster subdivisions have been a part of the Sussex County housing market. When first conceived, the trade off for not developing a standard tract of land with 3/4 of an acre per lot was to allow the developers to have a similar number of lots but at a smaller size. They were expected to be of a "superior design." What both county government and developers soon learned, the term "superior design" was not specifically defined in the cluster ordinance.
Some developers began to build subdivisions with the smaller lots. It cut down on costs of paving roads and building sidewalks. However, they were not committed to setting aside part of the tract for woodlands, wetlands, or scenic views.
That would change if an amendment to the ordinance is approved by the county council. New cluster subdivisions would be required to:
- Identify lands to be preserved
- Locate home sites
- Locate roads and trails
- Draw in the lot lines (on the design proposal)
"It is taking what we have in the code that is currently optional and making it mandatory for all cluster subdivision developments," Sussex County Assistant Attorney Vince Robertson said.
A public hearing on the amendment (without a vote) was held on Tuesday. Those speaking in support of the the measure cited home value and the environment as reasons. Joe Conaway, Chairman of the Sussex County Development Action Committee spoke for those with farm land interest. "It would drop the density that a farmer or property owner would have and reduce the price of what that farmer could get for selling it." Conaway told WRDE. The reduced price could also effect a farmers ability to use the land as collateral when purchasing large equipment.