To give the planning commission a chance to catch its breath, Lewes Mayor and City Council established a policy Aug. 11 that delays consideration of any new major subdivisions and annexation until February 2015.
The planning commission is in the midst of work on two controversial subdivisions, a potential change to regulations in the city's marine commercial district and a complete update to the comprehensive land-use plan. Since January, the commission has met 16 times, including five times in June.
“This, in some ways, could look and feel like a moratorium. It is not a moratorium,” said City Solicitor Glenn Mandalas. “Right now the planning commission is overburdened with a lot of planning tasks. And while we want to remain open for business per sé, there is only so much you can handle at any given time.”
City council voted unanimously to approve the temporary measure. The policy states that other requests, such as minor subdivisions, will be considered, but larger, more time-consuming tasks will take a back seat. Applications for major subdivisions and requests for annexation will be accepted and will be addressed in the order they are received, Mandalas said.
As a former ex-officio member to the planning commission, Mayor Ted Becker said, he is aware how much work is required of the planning commission members.
“Our planning commission and this body have pretty full schedules, and I'm trying to be respectful of the demands placed on them, knowing there are a lot of decisions yet to be made,” Becker said.
Many meetings this year have been dedicated to the proposed Highland Heights and Harbor Point communities; Jack Lingo Asset Management is the developer of both. They are seeking to develop Highland Heights into 34 single-family lots on an 18.5-acre parcel of wooded land between West Fourth Street and Seagull Drive. For Harbor Point, the developer seeks to create 69 single-family lots on 108.75 acres adjacent to the Great Marsh.
The planning commission is expected to make recommendations to city council on both communities within the next month.