The purpose of this document, as with the 1999 and 2004 Strategies for State Policies and Spending documents, is to coordinate land-use decision-making with the provision of infrastructure and services in a manner that makes the best use of our natural and fiscal resources. The importance of such coordination lies in the fact that land-use decisions are made at the local level, while the bulk of infrastructure (e.g., roads and schools) and services (e.g., emergency services and social services) that support land-use decisions are funded by the state. Thus the development of this document with local governments and citizens helps to create a unified view toward growth and preservation priorities that all levels of government can use to allocate resources.
The state makes significant investments, influenced by where and how growth occurs. For instance, over 200 schools receive nearly two-thirds of their funding from the state; DelDOT is responsible for maintaining nearly 90% of the over 13,000 lane miles in Delaware (the nationwide average for states is approximately 20%); and the state also funds approximately 15 State Service Centers that deliver more than 160 programs and services to accommodate more than 600,000 visits annually. Thus, the need to coordinate with those making land-use decisions cannot be stressed enough.
In 1999 the Cabinet Committee on State Planning Issues approved the first Strategies for State Policies and Spending. The original document was developed to assist the Cabinet Committee on State Planning Issues with its mission as specified in §9101, Title 29, (c) of the Delaware Code - to guide state investment decisions to promote efficient development patterns, protect agriculture and open space, discourage sprawl, and communicate with local governments on land-use matters. This document was updated in 2004. As in 2004, this update effort is done to maintain the relevancy and consistency with our continually changing landscape.
During the update process, the Office of State Planning Coordination (OSPC) consulted state agencies, county governments, metropolitan planning organizations, and local governments for comments. State-certified municipal and county comprehensive plans were also referred to during the data-gathering process.
In addition, the OSPC held a total of 6 public meetings - two in each of Delaware's three counties to accept the public's comments on the State Strategies text and maps. Comments were also accepted in writing, and online by email.
This document will continue to use the same area designations (Levels 1 - 4 and Out-of-Play) used in the 2004 update: Levels 1 and 2 identify areas of the state that are most prepared for growth and where the state can make the most cost-effective infrastructure investment for schools, roads, and public safety. Level 3 areas reflect areas where growth is anticipated by local, county, and state plans in the longer term, or areas that may have environmental or other constraints to development. State investments will support growth in these areas; however, the state may have other priorities in the near term, especially for Levels 1 and 2. In the Level 4 areas, the state will make investments that will help preserve a rural character, such as investments to promote open space and agriculture. The state is also looking to enhance agricultural activities by encouraging the location of complementary businesses in these areas. Out-of-Play lands are those that cannot be developed for reasons including they are federal- or state-owned protected lands, parkland, the development rights have been purchased, or state or local regulations prohibit development on them.