Planning, zoning, and site selection decisions are expedited in Delaware as a result of a comparatively simple organization of both state and county governments. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) administers all major environmental permits for the state. Each of Delaware's three counties maintains a central office for administering planning and zoning regulations. In addition, the office will provide trained professionals to guide a company through the state and local permit and zoning processes.
State Environmental Permits
Responsibility for most major environmental permits, including air emissions, vapor recovery, ground and surface water withdrawals, water pollution, boiler safety, brownfields, and solid and hazardous wastes, are all administered by DNREC. That agency also has a Planning and Compliance Assistance Office who assists potential permittees with issues relating to small business, permitting and pollution prevention assistance. In addition, this office coordinates DNREC's "Regulatory Advisory Service" which provides a one-stop assistance service to firms requiring multiple state permits. The service informs applicants of permit requirements, schedules and standards, regulatory requirements, and arranges meetings which allow applicants to discuss their project with all relevant environmental officials at one time. The Planning and Compliance Assistance Office may be contacted at (302) 739-9909.
State Land Use Permits
In addition to state environmental permits, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control administers the following statutes governing land use in Delaware:
1. The Coastal Zone Act controls the location, extent, and type of industrial
development in the State's coastal zone, including lands contiguous to the
Delaware River and Bay, Atlantic Ocean, and the Chesapeake and
Delaware Canal. The construction of new heavy industries in the coastal
zone, including oil refineries, steel manufacturing plants, cellulose pulp
paper mills, and petro-chemical plants, is prohibited. New bulk product
transfer facilities for the movement of materials from vessel to shore or
vessel to vessel are also prohibited. Pier facilities for a single permitted
industrial facility and the Port of Wilmington are exempt from this
New non-manufacturing business uses, such as commercial, residential, warehouse, and distribution facilities, are not covered by the Act.
New manufacturing uses begun after June 1971 are allowed by permit issued by the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. Permitted uses must conform to the applicable local zoning ordinance. New regulations require permittees to undertake beneficial environmental offset projects for new pollution generated in the Coastal Zone. The Office will be pleased to work with you to provide early guidance on this program.
Examples of Coastal Zone Permits Granted:
- An air separation plant to produce oxygen, nitrogen and argon
- A petroleum coke degasification facility with a combustion turbine and heat
recovery unit for electric power production
- A scrap metal recycling program at the Wilmington Marine Terminal
- The production of electrical power by a public utility in the Wilmington area
- The production of magnesium hydroxide paste in Lewes
- A plant in Claymont to process industrial quantities of carbon dioxide
- A manufacturer of animal vaccines near Millsboro
2. The Subaqueous Lands Act and the Wetlands Act protect all designated tidal wetlands and all public and private submerged lands. Approval is necessary for any structure, construction, utility crossing, dredging, filling, or excavating in any regulated wetland or subaqueous land.
3. The Beach Protection Act requires written approval for any structure, construction or substantial change in the characteristics of any beach, defined as that area along the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay which extends from the mean high waterline inland 1,000 feet and seaward 2,500 feet.
4. The Delaware Underground Storage Tank Act regulates the location and operation of underground storage tanks containing motor fuels and liquid chemical products, and requires certification that tanks are installed in accordance with the regulations.
5. The Jeffrey Davis Above Ground Storage Tank Act creates a state program for registration and regulation of above ground storage tanks (ASTs).
6. The Delaware Stormwater Management Act provides for control practices to protect water quality.