Planning, Zoning & Land Use

Delaware City has adopted the International Building Code with additions, insertions, deletions and changes.  You can view Delaware City’s Building Regulations in Chapter 23 of the City Code.

Delaware City now regulates all development, land use, and code enforcement within the city limits. The City’s responsibilities include comprehensive planning, Zoning Code , Subdivision Regulations, Floodplain Management, Stormwater Management, and Historic District Regulations. Delaware City also has requirements and restrictions relating to the use of city rights-of-way, including sidewalks, driveways, landscaping, and street trees. New Castle County zoning, subdivision, and other land use regulations do not apply within the City limits.

The Mayor and Council has adopted Ordinance 18-0618-03 which requires all contractors working in the City of Delaware City to obtain a contractor license.  Application for Delaware City Contractor License to do work in the City.  The license is in effect from July 1st to June 30th of the following year, and must be renewed annually.  The annual fee for a contractor license is $125.  Please see Chapter 51 Buinesses Article II of the Delaware City Code for more information.

The City has subcontracted with BIU, Inc. (Building Inspections Underwriters, Inc.) to do our building inspections.  Kyle Bendler will be our inspector and will have office hours at Town Hall, 407 Clinton Street on Wednesdays from 9:30 AM to noon.  He can also be reached at (302) 266-9057 or 800-732-2551.  He requests 24 hours notice for an inspection.

The City has subcontracted with AECOM to be our Engineering Company. They will be our City Engineer.  They can be reached at 302-781-5900.  They will be reviewing Lines and Grades, Stormwater Management, Subdivision Plans, and Floodplain Construction.

Property management code enforcement (complaints) will be handled by the Delaware City Code Enforcement Officer.  He can be reached at 302-834-0372.

Building Permits:

Anyone seeking to construct or alter a structure in Delaware City must first apply for a Building Subcode Permit.  Once the work has been approved you will then be issued a  Building Permit at Town Hall. The City’s current fee for a building permit is a minimum of $100.00 or 2.5% of the anticipated cost of construction, whichever is higher.  For additional fees please review our Fee Schedule.  If you are doing plumbing work, you will need to complete a Plumbing Subcode Permit.  The same for Mechanical (HVAC) work, you will need to complete a Mechanical Subcode Form.  For electrical work an Electrical Subcode Application must be completed.

If building new construction or disturbing 1,000 sq. ft. or more of land, you will also need to submit a Foundation As-Built Certification and Lines and Grades Plan along with a  Lines and Grades Checklist.

Anyone planning on altering or building a Commercial property in Delaware City must first get a letter of approval from the State Fire Marshall before applying for a building permit with the City.

Inspections will be made at various times during the construction process and then at the completion of the project Building Inspection Requirements .  If your property is located in the Floodplain additional inspections  will be needed.

Flood Plain – National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP):

A significant portion of Delaware City is located within the FEMA – designated 100-year flood plain. This means that there is a 1% chance each year that a flood will occur in the mapped area. The Base Flood Elevation (BFE) for Delaware City varies. You can find your BFE on the FEMA Flood Plain Maps (FIRM) . The flood maps are available at Town Hall for public review, along with many helpful brochures and technical bulletins relating to floodplain development, flood preparedness, and flood insurance.

Delaware City participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Properties in the 100-year flood plain are subject to regulation under the Delaware City FloodPlain Ordinance, which meets FEMA requirements for the NFIP. These regulations are designed to save lives and reduce property losses when flooding occurs. Without access to the NFIP, property owners would find flood insurance to be prohibitively expensive, if available at all.

Special rules apply for development in the flood plain, including minimum floor elevation and hydrostatic venting of foundations. A FEMA elevation certificate is required for all new construction and “significant improvements” in the flood zone.  You will also need to complete a Floodplain Permit Application to build in the floodplain accompanied by a Foundation As-Built Certification.  In addition, no filling or grading may take place within the flood plain without a permit from the City.  Click here for more Floodplain information.

Storm Water Management:

The City maintains an extensive drainage system within the public rights-of-way. The system is a combination of catch basins connected by pipes and open ditches or swales. Stormwater drains to the Delaware River, the Branch Canal, or to Dragon Run. Most of the outfalls to the river and the Branch Canal have tide gates which prevent flood waters from entering the town through the drainage system.

Delaware City holds a permit from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the discharge of stormwater. Under the terms of this National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, the City is obligated to monitor and control both the quantity and quality of storm runoff leaving the town. It is illegal to introduce pollutants into the storm drainage system, including laundry water, waste oil, pesticides, or other chemicals.

The State of Delaware also regulates land disturbing activities to control erosion and sediment pollution. Development, including grading as well as construction, requires a permit and an approved plan to control sediment leaving the development site. The New Castle Conservation District has been delegated the authority to review stormwater plans for Delaware City.  Click here for more Stormwater information.

Zoning Code:

Delaware City regulates land use within the city limits. The city has a unified code which encompasses both zoning and subdivision regulation. Chapter 46 of the Delaware City Code contains the city’s zoning and land use regulations. Chapter 54 contains the City’s subdivision regulations.  Depending upon the location of the property, other sections of the Code may apply, such as flood plain regulations (Chapter 48) and Historic District restrictions (Chapter 49).  Official Zoning Map of Delaware City, 2016

Comprehensive Plan:

The City outlines its future development through the Comprehensive Plan. This document serves as a guide for land use decision making and contains useful general information about the town and its future. Mayor & Council have approved a Comprehensive Plan which has received certification by the Office of State Planning Coordination. The Plan contains current and future land use maps, proposed annexation areas, as well as elements relating to transportation, natural resources, and the historic district.   On March 4, 2015, the Mayor & Council updated the Comprehensive Plan adding the Fort DuPont Master Plan.

Historic District:

Delaware City has a large and architecturally rich Historic District which was approved for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Development within the Historic District is subject to review by the Delaware City Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). See Chapter 49 of the Delaware City Code for information regarding development, construction, and building alterations within the Historic District.

Property Management (Code Enforcement):

Property owners are required to maintain their properties in good and safe condition. This includes the condition of the home or commercial building, controlling weeds and trash, among other requirements designed to protect the public health and safety. Delaware City has a Property Management Code Enforcer and he can be reached at 302-834-0372.  See Chapter 22 of the Delaware City Code for requirements relating to public health and Chapter 52 for Property Maintenance.

Public Rights-of-Way:

Delaware City regulates activities in the public rights-of-way, which includes streets, sidewalks, tree lawns, alleys, and drainage ways. In Delaware City the street rights-of-way are considerably wider than the actual street pavement. Private activities which are regulated or require a permit include, when trash cans can be placed at the curb, sidewalks maintenance and repair, driveway entrances, street tree planting, trimming or root disturbance, landscaping, maintenance of drainage ditches, and routine maintenance (mowing) of unpaved right-of-way areas. See Chapter 8 of the Delaware City Code for more information.