Traditional Land Use Planning Tools


The 2015 Strategies for State Policies and Spending provides a policy framework for planning in Delaware and is organized around the following principals:

  • Develop a More Efficient and Effective Government by coordinating local land use actions with State infrastructure and service delivery, largely through implementing the Strategies for State Policies and Spending.
  • Foster Economic Growth by enabling a predictable and transparent land use review and permitting process and leveraging state and local investments in infrastructure.
  • Improve Educational Opportunities for Delaware’s children by working with school districts and local governments to locate new schools in cost-effective neighborhood settings in accordance with the Strategies for State Policies and Spending and local government comprehensive plans.
  • Enhance the Quality of Life for All Delawareans by creating “Complete Communities” rich in amenities and services, encouraging a range of choices for residence and businesses, and protecting natural resources and our agricultural economy.

The Delaware Office of State Planning Coordination (OSPC) works to improve the coordination and effectiveness of land use decisions made by state, county, and municipal governments while building and maintaining a high quality of life in the State of Delaware. OPSC circuit-rider planners, the Planning Services Group of the Institute for Public Administration (IPA) at the University of Delaware, and private-sector planning and consulting firms can provide technical assistance with preparation of local government comprehensive plans.

Planning Framework in Delaware

The comprehensive plan is the foundation for planning in Delaware. Zoning, subdivision, and other regulatory tools are the principal means for implementing the plan. The comprehensive plan and land use codes (zoning and subdivision) are important because they will continue to be the principle mechanisms through which many of the elements that make up a complete community are legislated, permitted, encouraged, and managed.

Flow chart explaining the components of comprehensive planning

Relationship to Complete Communities Initiatives

  • The comprehensive plan is where complete communities principles initially are woven into a community’s goals and implementation strategies.
  • The comprehensive plan identifies specific actions or initiates further study of how complete community principles can be integrated into a jurisdiction’s land use codes.
  • Because the comprehensive plan preparation process involves significant community participation, it represents an opportunity for a community to identify, tailor, and set priorities on specific the complete communities’ elements best suited for their jurisdiction.
  • Land use regulations, such as zoning and subdivision ordinances—whether separate documents or a single land-use code—will be the principle means for carrying out complete communities initiatives.

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