Dewey leaders work to address climate change

Resiliency workshop points to possible policy development
March 11, 2023

Dewey Beach leaders addressed a host of possible policy options for dealing with the impacts of climate change at a Feb. 20 workshop.

Philip Barnes of the Biden School of Public Policy and Administration guided commissioners and climate change committee members in an exercise designed to identify meaningful strategies to enhance resiliency to present to town council for approval.

One idea discussed involved enhancing the freeboard in the 100-year floodplain. Dewey’s freeboard requirement is now 12 inches; the group discussed the possibility of modifying the floodplain ordinance to raise the freeboard requirement. 

Commissioner Gary Persinger said raising the requirement would not be a problem with new construction, but raising existing structures could run up against the height limit and would require an exception from the board of adjustment. 

Even if the requirement is raised, Barnes said, residents may not be able to access their properties if roads are flooded.

Other possibilities discussed included implementing higher regulations in high-risk zones, improving landscape standards, encouraging or requiring permeable paving in new construction, increasing the wetland buffer and creating a resiliency reserve fund.

The groups also debated the creation of a stormwater utility, a stormwater maintenance fee or “rain tax” that is calculated on the amount of stormwater generated by each home. 

Other options are developing a disaster recovery ordinance, and creating and requiring a real estate disclosure of sea-level risk.

Barnes said he would provide a meeting summary highlighting criteria the committee would need to create an evaluation framework. 

From there, Barnes said, the committee can prioritize and narrow its focus with the ultimate goal to offer one or two policy recommendations for public comment and approval.

The next climate change committee meeting has not yet been scheduled. Go to for more information.

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