Proposed changes to Lewes’ subdivision and land development code will be presented at a public hearing set for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 10, at the Rollins Community Center.
The planning commission formed a subcommittee to review and recommend the changes, which city officials have said are badly needed for future protection against overdevelopment. A public workshop allowed the subcommittee to gather feedback on the proposed changes, and the current draft is based on the information gained at the workshop.
Changes focus on major subdivisions, site plans and minor subdivisions as well as the application process for reviewing a plan. The idea is to streamline the approval process, making it more user-friendly, transparent and eliminating unnecessary steps. Officials said the new process, if approved, would clarify certain steps and terminology that in the past has led to confusion between the applicant, the planning commission and mayor and city council.
Changes include replacing the term preliminary consent with preliminary review, because the word consent has created confusion. New is an optional concept review by the planning commission, which an applicant may undergo before officially submitting an application. It’s intended to create dialogue that could lead to more effective plans from the applicant. After an application is submitted, there would be a presentation to the planning commission followed by a public hearing before planners give their recommendation.
Mayor and city council’s portion of the preliminary review follows the recommendation, and they will also hold a public hearing. A decision would follow. If preliminary plans are approved, the application moves into the final approval process. Final approval must be granted by all required agencies before a final decision is made by mayor and city council.
In regards to the public hearings, one of the changes proposed is to require a notice 15 days before the hearing occurs, not at the time of the application. The applicant’s materials must also be submitted 15 days ahead of the hearing. The proposal would expand the requirements to include review items for the project such as impervious surface descriptions, lighting plan details, existing woodlands and proposed buffers.
For those unable to attend the meeting in person, a Zoom link is available on the agenda at lewes.civicweb.net.