Sussex County, Delaware

Sussex County, population 176,548, is located in southern Delaware, roughly 80 miles south of Philadelphia and 70 miles east of Washington D.C. In 2006, Sussex County adopted a mechanism that promotes the preservation of farmland, open space and recreational areas by granting additional residential density in appropriate growth areas when developers pay a bonus density fee.

Sussex County, Delaware uses TDR to preserve farmland, open space and recreational areas.

Receiving areas consist of areas zoned AR-1 and designated as Town Center, Developing Area or Environmentally Sensitive Developing Area in the County Land Use Element. Baseline density applicable when developers decline to participate is two units per acre. However, when developers using the cluster development mechanism proffer a density bonus fee, the County can allow density to reach a maximum of four units per acre. The fee varies depending on the receiving site: 1) $15,000 per bonus dwelling unit in the Town Centers and Developing Areas around Greenwood, Bridgeville, Seaford, Blades, Laurel and Delmar; $15,000 per bonus unit in the Town Centers and Developing Areas around Milford, Milton, Ellendale, Georgetown, Millsboro, Dagsboro, Frankford and Selbyville; and 3) $20,000 per bonus unit in Environmentally-Sensitive Developing Areas. These fees are reviewed annually and can be revised as needed.

The proceeds of the fee are used to buy land or conservation easements. All open space acquisitions require a four fifths vote of the County Council. The Sussex County Land Trust acts as a recommending body and partner at the discretion of the County Council.