Before purchasing a piece of property with a specific purpose in mind, it is important to first understand its zoning category. In Delaware, zoning designations limit land use as well as the type of structures that can be built on a piece of property. To prevent misunderstandings regarding planned land use, it may help to familiarize oneself with the various types of zoning designations.
Whether for personal or commercial use, owning a piece of land is a significant investment. Few -- if any -- property owners in Delaware anticipate having to let others use their properties for unintended purposes. You may have been surprised or even worried when someone sought the right to use your piece of property. Easements are actually not as uncommon as you might think, but getting the details of land use right is essential.
Cities and towns can change pretty drastically over time. Where there were once homes there might be a new shopping center or public park. While these can sometimes be welcome changes, they often pose a problem for property owners in Delaware. This is because these and other changes are not generally not possible without zoning changes.
With the population aging in Delaware, the Milford City Council approved a nursing and rehab center proposed by Nationwide Healthcare Services. The center would anchor a wellness village that would lease spaces to multiple tenants like a child daycare center, pharmacy, medical offices and possibly a venue for public meetings. The company needed a zoning change to build on land previously occupied by Bayhealth Medical Center. That city had originally zoned that land for only the hospital.
Delaware residents may have heard about a recent Supreme Court ruling that halted the development of a proposed motor speedway track in Felton. The Feb. 23 decision upheld a previous Superior Court ruling made in August 2016 that the land, presently the location of a small horse racing track, is not properly zoned for the construction of a dirt track motor speedway.
Delaware property owners are sometimes asked to grant easements on their properties to others, including neighbors, utilities companies or municipalities. Easements are needed when other people need to use your property, and they may lead to disputes over property boundaries and what the holder of the easement will be allowed to do while it is on the property.
Residents of Sussex County may be interested in learning about the proposed Delaware Botanic Gardens, which will be located near Dagsboro along Pepper Creek. Sources report the project is moving forward and that architects, developers and planners have now been hired.
A potential West Rehoboth microbrewery has cleared its first zoning hurdle after the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to approve its conditional-use application. A local youth center has openly opposed the plan.
Delaware residents who are interested in real estate may want to learn about the recent news that Georgetown and Dagsboro are conducting planning towards gaining designation from the state as Downtown Development Districts. The project is intended to get the two towns prepared for applying for the designation under the Downtown Development District Act of 2014, and if they are successful, economic growth could be spurred.
Under the law, the principle of private property is balanced with the understanding that we must respect the rights of our neighbors, and the desire of the government to organize the shape of our community.