Dewey commissioners approve ordinance amendments

Provisions set for driveways, expirations, vehicles on beach
June 27, 2023

Dewey Beach commissioners voted June 16 to approve a host of ordinances relating to special exemption, variance and building permit time periods; driveway allowances; and unauthorized vehicles on the beach.

Commissioner Gary Persinger said he learned that many people are unaware that special exceptions and variances granted by the board of adjustment lapse after a year. The amended ordinance will let such applicants extend the one-year period for which the special exception or variance is valid. 

Conditions in which approved special exceptions or variances would not lapse include: construction is completed, the applicant applied for a building permit before the exception or variance expired, the use has already taken place in accordance with plans for which the exception or variance was granted, or the exception or variance was authorized for a longer time period.

Town Counsel Fred Townsend said other municipalities are doing the same thing in response to a lack of materials and contractor availability. Any special exception or variance valid as of June 16 is extended until Dec. 31.

Commissioners also amended an ordinance clarifying the number of driveway entrances permitted. Persinger said the current language said sites with a frontage of 50 feet or less shall have no more than one 20-foot-wide driveway or two 10-foot-wide driveway entrances, but doesn’t say anything about lots with frontage greater than 50 feet wide. 

The amendment clarified that lots of any size will follow the same regulations. Corner lots may have one 10-foot-wide driveway entrance on each of the two streets bordering the property.

Regarding building permits, which are valid for one year from the date of issue, commissioners determined that they may be renewed one time for one additional year if the renewal is applied for before the expiration date. Projects for which the permit has expired will require a new permit based on current construction cost estimates.

Town Manager Bill Zolper said that currently vehicles are allowed on the beach from Sept. 15 to May 15 if users are actively fishing and licensed. 

From May 15 to Sept. 15, he said, the only vehicles allowed on the beach are emergency vehicles, those belonging to the town-contracted trash and concession vendors, and ocean rescue personnel. 

Special exemptions are made for representatives of the annual end-of-summer party and skimboard contest who apply for event permits, Zolper said.

The amended ordinance prohibits all vehicles on the beach except those operated by police, fire, emergency, town, contracted beach concessionaires, or other authorized municipal or state vehicles on official business.


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