Sussex County adopts ordinances to tackle unkempt properties

Georgetown, Del., Sept. 22, 2020: Sussex County is cleaning up the process when it comes to cleaning up untidy properties in southern Delaware.

County Council, following a public hearing at its Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, meeting, adopted a series of ordinances that will shift the County’s investigation and enforcement of unkempt properties from the courts to an administrative practice. The change was made possible by enabling legislation passed by the Delaware General Assembly earlier this year, and is intended to streamline the process, and lead to a quicker resolution on problem properties.

“It’s one of the biggest complaints we hear from constituents: problems with tall grass, junk cars, and litter on properties,” County Administrator Todd F. Lawson said. “Most violations are fairly simple fixes, but there are a few that are time-consuming for our code officers. The public wants results as quickly as possible, and we believe these steps will help us deliver those results so Sussex Countians can enjoy and be proud of the way their community looks.”

Previously, violations of tall grass, excessive trash, and inoperable vehicles on private property in the unincorporated portions of the county would find their way into court if the owner(s) or occupant(s) failed to correct the violation. County officials followed the enforcement steps laid out in County code, but the process was often slow, sometimes taking as many as 90 days in back-and-forth notices and court actions to get a resolution. County officials are hopeful the new process will cut turn-around times on problem parcels to as little as 30 days.

The new rules will take effect immediately. For more information, or to view the package of ordinances, visit


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