CPD explains position on Dewey brewpub

March 21, 2014

We would like to address a couple of recent comments about Citizens to Preserve Dewey’s objections to the council approval of the brewpub. We like brewpubs, just not next to residences, and not in a town whose zoning code prohibits manufacturing.

We think the approval of the brewpub opens up the town, and the RB-2 District, to more manufacturing, both of beer and other products. Why? The state defines a brewpub as a restaurant that “manufactures beer.” Dewey’s zoning code expressly prohibits any kind of manufacturing. We believe that our opposition to beer manufacturing is consistent with any common sense interpretation of Dewey’s zoning code.

The steering committee of CPD and several other citizens, 18 in total, retained an attorney to make sure our interpretation was legally sound as well as common sense based. She came to the same conclusion. The explanation we have heard for the town’s legal interpretation is that because other towns also prohibit manufacturing, and other towns have approved brewpubs, that Dewey should also.

We just don’t agree with the argument that because other people are doing it, it is okay for Dewey to do it. That is not a sound basis for policy decisions. We think our elected officials were elected to uphold the zoning laws of the town, and while people of good minds can differ, we are truly astounded that the council would approve a use that is prohibited in our code. There were also other zoning issues the project didn’t meet that were ignored by the council.

And the conditions attached with the approval offer unenforceable protection for property owners, and may only last until the next council is elected, when they can be changed or eliminated altogether.

Secondly, we certainly wish Clint Bunting and his partners well in their new venture, and hope that the council’s trust in his presentation and promises is well-founded. We do remember that Clint wanted to bring gambling to the Indian River Inlet a few years ago, despite widespread opposition to gambling from the citizens in Dewey Beach.

Once again, he is introducing a use to the area that many citizens oppose and that doesn’t appear to conform to our zoning code. In addition, he indicated in a recent letter to the editor that we had distributed misleading information, so we make the same invitation to him that we make to everyone, which is that we are happy to publish a correction for any information we have published that is not correct. As of this date, we are not aware of anything we have said that is not accurate.

Again, we want to thank Commissioner Gary Mauler and Planning Commission Vice Chairman Mike Paraskewich for their opposition to the project on legal, zoning and engineering grounds. They stood tall based on their professional and personal experience in zoning and engineering, in the face of their colleagues voting a different way, and it took courage to buck the tide of approval. We are truly blessed to have courageous citizens willing to serve our town and do what they think is right.

And even though we strongly disagree with the conclusion by the rest of the planning commission and the council, we appreciate their willingness to wrestle with a complicated issue and wish they had reached a different conclusion.  We can all join together in hoping that this decision does not have unintended consequences that none of us would like as a result.

Citizens to Preserve Dewey Steering Committee

Elissa Feldman

Joan Claybrook

Marcia Schieck

Dave Davis

Karen Jacoby

Former Commissioner Joy Howell

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