Lewes may soon add a planning consultant to its ranks.
Deputy Mayor Ted Becker, speaking at the Lewes Homeowners Association meeting Feb. 7, announced the city's plans to earmark money in its fiscal year 2015 budget for a planner.
The increased number of projects has placed an extraordinary demand on city staff, he said, and the addition of a planner could relieve some of that pressure.
“As we all know, there are several proposed projects in the city limits and beyond that will have an impact on the quality of our lives,” he said. “In many cases, these would require close coordination with state and county officials as we attempt to analyze, assess and create action which will result in these projects adding to the greater Lewes area rather than become a burden for us.”
There are several projects in the pipeline within and just outside Lewes' city limits, including the proposed 69-home Point Farm/ Harbor Point development off New Road. Developers recently submitted the subdivision plan to city hall; it is under review by the city's committees and commissions. A public hearing on the annexation of the land where the community is planned is set for Tuesday, April 29.
The developers of the proposed Highland Heights community off Fourth Street are also seeking approval to move forward. They will make another presentation before the city's planning commission Wednesday, April 2.
There is no specific line item in the 2015 budget, but Becker said the money would likely come from the $200,000 budgeted for consultants.
Speaking at the Lewes Community Partnership meeting in January, resident Ric Moore said a planner is needed in order to properly map out the city's future while also taking into account the issues of today, such as flood insurance rates. Others in attendance at that meeting echoed Moore's desire for a qualified professional.
Becker, who attended that meeting, said council listened. But while many residents were pushing for a full-time planner, he said, starting with a planner in a consultant role would allow the city to walk rather than run into this new endeavor.
“Hiring a planner is not a solution,” he said. “Rather, it's a route to help us understand the solutions that are out there.”