Dewey mayor opposes 60-foot limit

October 18, 2013

The following letter was sent to members of Sussex County Council and Sussex County government with a copy submitted to the Cape Gazette for publication.

As Mayor of Dewey Beach, I am writing in opposition to the false interpretation that public or semi-public buildings can now be built to 60 feet in the county and request that the option of a moratorium on any building currently planning to build to 60 feet and a clarifying ordinance to clarify the past history of the height limit and its original intent be investigated.

Knowing that our town held a referendum vote on the height limit of 35 feet in Dewey Beach in 2008 and that 86 percent of those who voted supported this height limit be maintained, I am certain that the vast majority of people in Dewey Beach would also support this position. I intend to add an item to our next town meeting agenda so that we can get public input and vote on this issue as a town council.

The history of Sussex has been that the height limit was 42 feet and all developers had abided by that rule until recently. It is unconscionable that this change was allowed to happen without any public knowledge or input. In fact, as mayor I had no knowledge of this change until I read about it in an editorial in the Cape Gazette. I laud them for bringing this highly significant issue to the public's attention. In fact, it is my understanding that even the Sussex County Council members did not know about it until recently.

Such a major change in building height, especially along Route One, will bring total gridlock to our area - even more than it already is. The traffic is not only an inconvenience, it is a major safety issue as the traffic can slow down ambulances, fire trucks, police and other emergency vehicles from attending to emergencies promptly. As individual towns we can control the height of buildings within our borders, but are not able to control such a major impact on our quality of life without the support of our county council and government.

I implore you to stop this insanity.

Diane Hanson
Mayor of Dewey Beach

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