Sussex County, Delaware, one of the fastest growing counties on the Eastern seaboard, was the site of a Your Town workshop hosted by the Lewes Historical Society in Lewes, September 7-9, 2005. The purpose of the workshop was to bring key leaders from multiple interest groups across the county together to reach some consensus on the future growth of Sussex County—what to preserve, where growth should go, and what it should look like.
The Lewes workshop was notable for the high caliber of speakers who presented. Delaware’s Governor Ruth Minner addressed participants and answered numerous questions for nearly an hour. Connie Holland, Director of the State Planning Office, attended the workshop, as did LeeAnn Walling, Policy Advisor to the Governor. Michael Kinsley of the Rocky Mountain Institute and Judge William Chandler, long-time county resident, delivered keynote addresses. Ed McMahon of the Urban Land Institute, Jeff Speck, Director of Design at the Endowment, and A. Elizabeth Watson, Executive Director of the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area, were among those who gave presentations.
The outcome of the three-day workshop was a new conceptual plan for Sussex County. Working in small groups and then in a plenary session, participants came to agree on broad areas of the county that should be kept in agriculture or other preserved open space; targeted areas for redevelopment and development, including new town centers; and transportation linkages. As follow-up to the workshop, a self-selected group of participants will continue to meet and share the conceptual plan with town officials and various interest groups across Sussex County. The goal is to inform the comprehensive plan update scheduled for next year.
-Excerpted from Your Town: Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, Update, Fall, 2005