Office of State Planning Coordination


Directing Growth

Overall Indicators of Development

Demographic analysis will play a key role in guiding decisions on how to accommodate the expected growth in Delaware. At present, Delaware is expected to grow by nearly one-third by the year 2030. It is imperative that we understand the composition of this incoming population in order to meet their needs in a manner that preserves Delaware's quality of life and that it is done at minimal cost to taxpayers. Looking at Delaware data for land-use policies we have the following:

  • Between 2000 and 2030, Delaware's population is projected to increase by roughly 260,000 to a total of 1,049,865. Where this projected population is located in relation to Delaware's existing population, infrastructure, and services will, no doubt, make a significant impact on the magnitude of state investments needed to support this growth. While more than half of all Delawareans are still expected to reside in New Castle County in 2030, the Delaware Population Consortium (DPC) anticipates that Kent and Sussex residents will account for approximately six percent more of Delaware's 2030 population than they did in 2000.
  • From 2000 to 2030, the percentage of Delawareans over the age of 65 will almost double, while the percentage over 85 is expected to triple.
  • Delaware's population of non-U.S. born residents doubled between 1990 and 2000. In Sussex County, this population more than tripled through the same time period.
  • With people come vehicles. Both the total number of vehicles and the miles being driven are increasing faster than the population is growing. DelDOT reports that Average Annual Vehicle Miles Traveled doubled between 1980 and 2005, while Delaware's population, according the U.S. Census Bureau, increased approximately 32% between 1980 and 2000.
  • The trend in Delaware has been toward growth in unincorporated areas outside towns. In 1960 Delaware's population was more evenly distributed between incorporated places (cities and towns) and unincorporated, rural areas. According to the 1960 census, more than 39% of Delawareans lived in towns and cities and almost 61% lived outside towns. By 1990, according to the U.S. Census, approximately 29% of Delaware's population lives in towns and cities. This trend has continued according to the 2000 census; the population in incorporated places has fallen to just over 27% of Delawareans. More than 72% of Delawareans now live outside town and city limits.
  • National trends seem to agree with what we observe in Delaware, which gives us clues on the shape and location of development to accommodate our changing population is supported in the following:
    • Research indicates that demographic changes and consumer preferences will dramatically shift the demand for the style and type of housing in the next 20 years.
    • "As baby boomers become empty nesters and retirees, they are drawn to compact, walkable neighborhoods. So are single adults and married couples without children."1
    • The aging population tends to favor "down-sizing" and moving near community amenities.
    • Younger Americans do not share their parents' preference for large-lot, single-family lifestyles. They tend to prefer a community setting and more compact units.
    • "Arthur C. Nelson of Virginia Tech projects that by 2025, the demand for attached and small-lot housing will exceed the current supply by 35 million units (71 percent), while the demand for large-lot housing will actually fall short of the current supply. "We have too much of the big stuff already."2

Moving Toward Complete Communities

Research provides strong evidence that a mixed-use and compact-development pattern is well suited to maintaining Delaware's fiscal health and preserving the many characteristics that make Delaware a desirable place to live and work. This type of development is also well suited to meet future needs of Delawareans as indicated by the demographic trends noted above. In essence, we are speaking of a "complete community." As one definition of complete communities phrases it:

"The objective is to use less land and reduce the separation of land uses in order to achieve a variety of values including open space protection, community vitality, affordable housing, air quality, transit use, and more walkable places."3

It should be noted that we are not just speaking about density, as there are many negatives that can be associated with dense development. For instance, density without mixed-uses and any consideration for design, can be associated with decreased open space, more stormwater run-off, urban heat islands and increased congestion

As advocated in this document, complete communities typically include an integrated pedestrian and bike network, newer streets interconnected with existing streets, intermingling of residential and commercial uses, and the inclusion of parks or open-space networks within developments. If properly designed, the positive impacts of this type of development from the public sector perspective would include a more diverse range of transportation and housing options and a more economical extension of public services and utilities. Additionally, since this type of development would use less land there would be less pressure on using the state's agriculture and open space lands for development.

Updating the State Strategies Maps

The accompanying strategies maps are a graphic representation of a combination of state and local land-use policies. They are intended to guide state agencies as they make investment decisions. These maps do not restrict landowners' rights to use or develop their lands. Nor do they restrict a purchaser's option to live anywhere desired.

This update of the Strategies for State Policies and Spending maps were accomplished using spatial- data analysis to balance state, county and local policies for various kinds of residential growth, economic development, and land preservation. This analysis was designed to create a statewide map that reflects the combined policies of all levels of government and highlight which areas are most appropriate for various types of growth.

To conduct this analysis, all factors that argue for new development and redevelopment were gathered. All factors that argue for land preservation and/or agricultural economic development were also gathered, as were data showing areas that are "out of play" for various legal reasons. These can be state or federally owned, purchased development rights, permanent easements, and the like. All of these factors were combined using spatial-analysis tools. The resulting data set was classified into Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, and "Out-of-Play" areas.

Following the spatial analysis, the map data were reviewed by local government officials and members of the public, and the map was edited, where appropriate, to reflect additional information.

1Ewing, Reid, "The Demand for Smart Growth: What Survey Research Tells Us". Planning Magazine, December 2007
3Pivo, Gary, "Creating Compact and Complete Communities: Seven Propositions for Success". Practicing Planner, AICP, Summer, 2005.
Last Updated: Thursday, 26-Jun-2014 14:16:44 EDT
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