Sussex County's population is expected to grow by 35% over the next 20 years, and some Delawareans worry that too much of the county's farmland, forest, and seashore will be sacrificed to house the crowd.
However, there are ways to conserve open space while creating new homes for an expanding population, according to Randall Arendt, a nationally recognized land-use planner and site designer.
Arendt will be the keynote speaker at "Open Space Conservation: Sustainable Development for Sussex County," a half-day seminar set for April 24 at the University of Delaware's Virden Conference Center in Lewes. The seminar is designed for local officials, planners, building contractors, site designers, mortgage lenders, real estate professionals, and other interested citizens.
The UD Sea Grant College Program and the Greater Lewes Foundation are organizing the event. Additional sponsors include the Center for the Inland Bays, Sussex Conservation District, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and the Office of State Planning Coordination.
During the seminar, Arendt will share his techniques for planning residential developments in harmony with the natural landscape. So far, in projects for clients in 16 states, Arendt has planned "conservation subdivisions" that have been viewed as win-win propositions, benefiting both the environment and the economy. One of Arendt's conservation designs is credited by an Indiana developer as having added at least $10,000 of value to each of his lots. Additionally, a community in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, which has implemented Arendt's techniques over the past six years, has protected more than 500 acres of prime farmland, a value of $3.5 million, at no cost to farmers, developers, or the public.
Arendt's work has been featured in newspapers and magazines ranging from the Wall Street Journal to The New Yorker. He has written five books and numerous articles and reports, including Designing Open Space Developments in Sussex County, Delaware: A Practical Handbook published recently by the Sussex Conservation District.
The seminar will begin at 11:30 a.m. with a buffet lunch. The formal program will follow at 1:00 p.m. and conclude at 5:00 p.m. Afterward, a reception will be held to allow attendees to discuss options for conservation planning with local, county, and state public officials.
Cost of the seminar is $15 per person, and advanced registration is required. For a registration form, please contact the UD Sea Grant College Program in Lewes at (302) 645-4346.
The University's Virden Center is located on the Hugh R. Sharp Campus, 700 Pilottown Road, Lewes.