Dewey resident opposes minimum lot size changes

August 18, 2023

The following letter was sent to Dewey Beach commissioners with a copy provided to the Cape Gazette for publication. 

I am a co-owner of property and a voter in Dewey Beach. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the Friday, Aug. 18 meeting, so here are my views.

Regarding the first item on the meeting's agenda: it is a shame that Fifer Orchards Farm Kitchen was not able to get the variance it requested, but I am against plans to reduce the minimum lot size per dwelling unit from 3,600 square feet to 3,000 square feet.

While this would address the request for just one business, the future benefits from increased development by others are a marginal increase in town revenues from transfer taxes, accommodations and hotel taxes, parking revenue and building permit income. The transfer tax and building permit income increases are only shorter term, for the most part.

But what are the costs going forward as more developers come in – both quantitative and qualitative? 

• Reducing the minimum lot size will allow more seasonal rentals through new development

• The many existing property owners who rent out accommodations will be hurt by lower prices and competition

• It will add to the crowds, which are already too much

• Finding a parking place is a real problem now. This will make it worse

• It will place a burden on town services, like the police, who will require more budget increases.

Thirty years ago, Indian Beach's streets were wide open, but now it is a corridor of large houses spaced tightly. Do we want Dewey to be like that? The height limit will not prevent it.

I strongly urge you to do quantitative analysis of town revenue increases and extra costs. I see a such review as a a duty of the commissioners.

If this proposal is passed, it will benefit just one business, but existing voters will be impacted negatively by future development due to increased crowds, parking problems, traffic and demands on the police. That "Way of Life" will deteriorate more. 

At the end of the day, we continue to see problems with overdevelopment in Sussex County. We are now seeing this in Dewey as well. When is it too much?

In my view, the commissioners, the mayor and the town manager have all been doing a great job, so I find the implications of this lot-size proposal perplexing. For town voters, it defies common sense.

Brooks Browne
Dewey Beach


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