Land-Use Management in Delaware’s Coastal Zone

The vastness and variety of the resources of this nation’s coastal area have in the past generally been sufficient to support a number of different land uses. Recreational, commercial, and industrial facilities have developed together, generally at the expense of the natural environment. These land uses, however, including the natural environment in its unused form, no longer simply coexist, but now actively vie for the limited coastal area remaining. The legislatures of several states have attempted to resolve this conflict in a variety of ways. In June of 197 1 the Delaware General Assembly enacted the Coastal Zone Act (CZA), a measure regulating the uses of the coastal zone either by permit or by outright prohibition. This note examines similar legislation which states other than Delaware have enacted and then discusses the CZA. Because of the significance of the Delaware Act, other states may be tempted to emulate its basic pattern. They should do so, however, only after considering that the CZA may be peculiarly appropriate to Delaware. Furthermore, the reasonableness of the CZA’s prohibition of heavy industry from the coastal zone may be more tenuous for states other than Delaware.