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Sussex Chapter 115 Zoning [index]   

Article I General Provisions

§ 115-1 Title.

§ 115-2 Applicability.

§ 115-3 Purpose.

§ 115-4 Definitions and word usage.

Article II Establishment of Districts; Maps

§ 115-5 Districts established.

§ 115-6 References to district names.

§ 115-7 Zoning Map.

§ 115-8 Informational copies; changes.

§ 115-9 Interpretation of district boundaries.

§ 115-10 Areas under water.

Article III Provisions Applicable to All Districts

§ 115-11 Conformity required.

§ 115-12 Location and number of buildings on lots of record.

§ 115-13 Encroachments; reduction of lot area.

§ 115-14 Construction of accessory buildings prior to main building.

§ 115-15 Prohibited uses.

§ 115-15.1 Calculation of permitted density in all districts. [1]

§ 115-16 Tables considered part of chapter.

§ 115-17 Materials referenced in chapter.

§ 115-18 Effect on governmental functions.

Article IV  AR-1 and AR-2 Agricultural Residential Districts

§ 115-19 Purpose.

§ 115-20 Permitted uses.

§ 115-21 Permitted accessory uses.

§ 115-22 Conditional uses.

§ 115-23 Special use exceptions.

§ 115-24 Permitted signs.

§ 115-25 Height, area and bulk requirements.

§ 115-26 Reference to additional regulations.


Article XXI Signs

§ 115-157 Purpose.

§ 115-157.1 Definitions.

§ 115-158 Signs prohibited in all districts.

§ 115-159 Signs permitted in all districts.

§ 115-159.1 Signs permitted in AR-1 and AR-2 Agricultural Residential Districts and GR General Residential Districts.

 . . .

§ 115-160 General regulations for all districts.

§ 115-161 Construction and lighting.

§ 115-161.1 Electronic message centers.

§ 115-161.2 Nonconforming off-premises signs.

§ 115-161.3 Substitution.

§ 115-161.4 Severability.


Article XXIV Conditional Uses

§ 115-171 Purpose.

§ 115-172 Special requirements.

§ 115-173 Preliminary site plan.

§ 115-174 Period of validity of approval.

§ 115-175 Preexisting uses.

§ 115-176 Revocation of permits.


Article XXVIII Administration and Enforcement

§ 115-216 Changes and amendments.

§ 115-217 Procedure for RPC District and conditional use approval.

§ 115-218 Procedure for RPC District, C-4 Planned Commercial District and conditional use site plan approval.

§ 115-219 Site plan review required for certain uses.

§ 115-220 Preliminary site plan requirements.

§ 115-221 Final site plan requirements.

§ 115-222 Amendments and additions to site plans.

§ 115-223 Certificate of compliance.

§ 115-224 Permits.

§ 115-225 Drawings or plats.

§ 115-226 Fees.

§ 115-227 Interpretation.

§ 115-228 Enforcement.

§ 115-229 Violations and penalties.

Sussex § 115-15 Prohibited Uses.


§ 115-15 Prohibited Uses. 

[Amended 4-16-2019 by Ord. No. 2644]

For the purpose of this chapter, permitted uses are listed for the various districts. Unless the contrary is clear from the context of the lists or other regulations of this chapter, uses not specifically listed are prohibited. The Commission shall have the authority to determine whether a use shall be permitted because it is clear from the context of the lists or other regulations that it should be permitted due to its similarity to those uses that are listed as permitted.

Sussex Article IV AR-1 AR-2 District

§ 115-19 Purpose. 

The purpose of these districts is to provide for a full range of agricultural activities and to protect agricultural lands, as one of the county's most valuable natural resources, from the depreciating effect of objectional, hazardous and unsightly uses. They should also protect established agricultural operations and activities. These districts are also intended for protection of watersheds, water resources, forest areas and scenic values and, at the same time, to provide for low-density single-family residential development, together with such churches, recreational facilities and accessory uses as may be necessary or are normally compatible with residential surroundings. The AR regulations seek to prevent untimely scattering of more-dense urban uses, which should be confined to areas planned for efficient extension of public services.

§ 115-22 Conditional Uses. 

The following uses may be permitted as conditional uses when approved in accordance with the provisions of Article XXIV of this chapter:

•Agricultural related industry 

•Airports and landing fields or seaplane bases

 •Aquariums, commercial 

•Beaches, commercial 

•Biotech campus 

•Biotech industry not located within a biotech campus  

•Cemeteries, including a crematorium 

•Exposition centers or fairgrounds 

•Heliports or helistops

•Hospitals and sanitariums, but not animal hospitals 

•Institutions, educational or philanthropic, including museums, art galleries, libraries 

•Land application of sludge, treated sludge or any product containing these materials. 

•Livestock auction markets in an AR District Marinas or yacht clubs   

•Multifamily dwelling structures and/or townhouses and/or town homes 

•Manufactured home parks

•Nursing and similar care facilities

•Parks or campgrounds for mobile campers, tents, camp trailers, touring

•Private clubs 

•Public/governmental buildings and uses, incl. schools, parks, parkways, public boat landings

•Public utilities or public service uses, buildings, generating or treatment plants, etc.

•Racetracks, any type, including horses, stock cars or drag strip

•Recreation facilities, privately or commercially operated

Residential, business, commercial or industrial uses when the purposes of this chapter are more fully met by issuing a conditional use permit

•Special events - circuses or carnival grounds, amusement parks or midways, festivals

•Sports arenas or stadiums, commercial athletic fields or baseball parks 

Stores or shops for the sale of farm products, farm supplies, groceries, beverages, drugs and food and similar stores and shops

•Structures for commercial poultry raising on farms of less than five acres

•Swimming or tennis clubs, private, nonprofit or commercially operated

Sussex Article XXIV Conditional Uses

[Note: This applies to ALL zones, and each listed under  § 115-172 Special Requirement has special requirements.]

§ 115-171 Purpose.  

The purpose of this article is to provide for certain uses which cannot be well adjusted to their environment in particular locations with full protection offered to surrounding properties by rigid application of the district regulations. These uses are generally of a public or semipublic character and are essential and desirable for the general convenience and welfare but, because of the nature of the use, the importance of the relationship to the Comprehensive Plan and possible impact not only on neighboring properties but on a large section of the county, require the exercise of planning judgment on location and site plan.

§ 115-172 Special Requirements. 

A. A drive-in theater use may be approved. 

B. Excavation or backfilling of borrow pits, extraction, processing and removal of sand, gravel or stone, stripping of topsoil (but not including stripping of sod) and other major excavations. 

C. Livestock auction market in an AR District.

D. Cemetery or crematorium.

E. Marina or yacht club.

F. Swimming or tennis club, private, nonprofit or commercially operated.

G. Manufactured home park.

H. Park or campground for mobile campers, tents, camp trailers, touring vans and the like. 

Sussex Article XXI Signs

§ 115-157 Purpose. 

[Added 10-11-2016 by Ord. No. 2470[1]]
Signs, including outdoor advertising structures, are herein regulated with the intent of regulating excess signage, encouraging the positive economic development of the County, preserving and improving tourism views, promoting the safety of the traveling public, protecting property values in both residential and nonresidential areas, preventing overcrowding of the land and excess clutter, and protecting the aesthetics of the County.

[1]Editor's Note: This ordinance also renumbered former § 115-157 as § 115-157.1.

§ 115-159 Signs permitted in all districts.

 [Referred to in  § 115-159.1  below. Only item 'E' is copied here.]

E.  Signs which are attached or which are an integral part of gasoline pumps or other dispensing or servicing devices, provided that such signs do not extend beyond the area of the pump, dispensing or servicing device to which they are attached, and provided that such activities or services are legally established uses.

§ 115-159.1 Signs permitted in AR-1 

 A. Signs permitted shall be as follows:

   (1)  Signs permitted in all districts as referenced by § 115-159 [see above].


   (2)  One indirectly illuminated on-premises sign, not to exceed 32 square feet of sign area per side for each building devoted to the following uses: church, school, hospital, nursing home, country club, golf course or similar use. Such signs shall be solely for the purpose of displaying the name of the institution or association and its activities or services. In addition, a bulletin board may be permitted, provided that the total of 32 square feet of sign area per side is not exceeded by both the bulletin board and the on-premises sign. A sign shall contain no more than two sides or facings, back to back, and shall have a minimum setback of five feet from the front lot line, a minimum setback of 25 feet from the right-of-way line of an intersection with another street or road, and a minimum setback of 15 feet from all adjacent property lines.

   [Amended 10-11-2016 by Ord. No. 2470]

   (3) One nonilluminated on-premises sign not to exceed six square feet of sign area per side, identifying a permitted home occupation on the premises or a permitted use on a farm of five acres or more. A sign shall contain no more than two sides or facings, back to back, and shall conform to the setbacks referenced in Subsection A(2) above.

   [Amended 10-11-2016 by Ord. No. 2470]

   (4) Nonilluminated on-premises signs not to exceed three signs, of which each sign shall not exceed 32 square feet of sign area per side, identifying any truck garden, orchard, nursery, commercial greenhouse, produce sale or public stable permitted on the same premises. All signs shall contain no more than two sides or facings, back to back, and shall conform to the setbacks referenced in Subsection A(2) above. 

   [Amended 10-11-2016 by Ord. No. 2470]

B. No off-premises signs shall be permitted.

C. Permitted sign locations are ground, marquee and wall.

Sussex Article XXV Supplementary Regulations

§ 115-177 Purpose. 

The regulations set forth in this article qualify or supplement the district regulations appearing elsewhere in this chapter.

§ 115-194.3 Coastal Area. 

[Added 12-9-2003 by Ord. No. 1645]

A. Delineation of the zoning district.[Amended 5-21-2019 by Ord. No. 2656]

  (1) The Coastal Area shall include all lands designated as the "Coastal Area" in the adopted Sussex County Comprehensive Plan dated March 19, 2019, or as subsequently amended.
 (2) Where the boundary of the Coastal Area is formed by a roadway, the overlay zone shall be deemed to include the contiguous property on the far side of the roadway, provided that depth of the Coastal Area on contiguous property shall not exceed 600 feet.

 B. Application process.
  (1) All rezoning, subdivision, business and industrial site plans and conditional use applications involving one or a combination of the following shall be subject to the process and performance requirements as described hereinafter:
     (a) Any residential planned community application.
     (b) Any development containing 50 or more dwelling units.
     (c) Any development containing 75,000 square feet or more of floor area used for commercial or industrial uses.
     (d) Any use or activity that requires a permit in the Coastal Zone.

    (2) The applicant shall submit an environmental assessment and public facility evaluation report and sketch plan (report) to the Director of Planning and Zoning, a copy of which will be forwarded to the Office of State Planning Coordination and members of the Technical Advisory Committee for review and comment. The sketch plan shall address the following issues for the property to be developed and, where appropriate to the context, for the contiguous property. Information submitted by the applicant shall at a minimum contain the following:
      (a) Proposed drainage design and the effect on stormwater quality and quantity leaving the site, including methods for reducing the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen in the stormwater runoff and the control of any other pollutants such as petroleum hydrocarbons or metals.
     (b) Proposed methodof providing potable and, where appropriate, irrigation water and the effect on public or private water systems and groundwater, including an estimate of average and peak demands.
     (c) Proposed means of wastewater treatment and disposal with an analysis of the effect on the quality of groundwater and surface waters, including alternative locations for on-site septic systems.
     (d) Analysis of the increase in traffic and the effect on the surrounding roadway system.
     (e) The presence of any endangered or threatened species listed on federal or state registers and proposed habitat protection areas.
     (f) The preservation and protection from loss of any tidal or nontidal wetlands on the site.
     (g) Provisions for open space as defined in § 115-4.[Added 12-16-2008 by Ord. No. 2022[1]]
     [1]Editor's Note: This ordinance also provided that it shall apply to applications filed after 1-1-2009.
     (h) A description of provisions for public and private infrastructure.
     (i) Economic, recreational or other benefits.
     (j) The presence of any historic or cultural resources that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
     (k) An affirmation that the proposed application and proposed mitigation measures are in conformance with the current Sussex County Comprehensive Plan.
     (l) Actions to be taken by the applicant to mitigate the detrimental impacts identified relevant to Subsection B(2)(a) through (k) above and the manner by which they are consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
 (3) The Director of Planning and Zoning shall prepare (with input from the County Administrator) guidelines describing the application process and the form and content of information to be submitted by the applicant and shall review all applications, plans, assessments and other information submitted and prepare a written report summarizing his findings and the comments of state agencies and other County offices. The Planning and Zoning Commission shall make a determination as to whether adequate information has been presented for the project to proceed. A completed report shall be required prior to any preliminary plan approval for a development subject to this section. Approval of the report does not constitute final approval of the commenting agencies.

C. Permitted uses and densities.
  (1) Uses permitted in the Coastal Area will be those uses permitted in the underlying zoning category as established by the Sussex County Zoning Ordinance.[Amended 5-21-2019 by Ord. No. 2656]

E. Design consideration should be given by the applicant toward the establishment of a greenways system which utilizes schools, parks, wildlife habitat areas, river and stream corridors, wetlands, floodplains, historic sites, business parks, urban sidewalks, abandoned rail lines, roads, beach areas and vacant land. Greenways should provide benefits like safe pedestrian, bicycling and equestrian routes for recreationists and commuters; and natural wildlife corridors and biological reserves.