Lewes committee on committees calls for new committee

Group seeks to form architectural commission
November 14, 2017

Lewes is a city that does not lack willing volunteers to serve on committees. Over the years, the city has formed 11 standing committees and several other ad hoc groups. 

To ensure each group is still needed, a new Lewes committee has been tasked with looking into the committees, specifically those that have met infrequently. 

At the outset, the groups under the microscope are the commercial architectural review commission, greenways and trails committee, Canalfront Park marina committee and the capital projects committee. 

The group spent its Nov. 6 meeting discussing the future of two committees: commercial architectural review and greenways and trails.

Officials recommended CARC be combined with the historic preservation commission to form a new architectural review committee with members of each current group serving on the new committee. 

The purpose of CARC is to review architectural plans for proposed commercial building, whether new construction, renovations or other changes to architecture. While following similar guidelines, the historic preservation commission is limited to the city’s historic district. 

“I don’t see why a commercial building and a residential building, and for that matter an institutional building, should not be judged on the same aesthetic criteria, particularly if it is in the historic district,” said Councilman Rob Morgan, chair of the committee.

While no one from CARC attended the meeting, HPC Chair Barbara Warnell was open to joining the two committees. 

“I always thought they should be one entity,” she said. “It’s a small town, and we have a small pool of people with the passion and expertise to draw upon. It would really be helpful if we had a single body with better expertise on it.” 

A commercial architectural review commission has been in existence since 1993, when then-Councilman Jim Ford worked with an ad hoc group to establish architectural regulations. 

The HPC has been meeting since 2004, but council worked several years prior to iron out a historic preservation ordinance. 

City Manager Ann Marie Townshend pointed to other Delaware municipalities that use one architectural commission to make decisions, including Dover and New Castle. 

The recommendation calls for both the HPC and CARC groups to continue meeting as usual until a plan to combine has been worked out.

“I don’t think making the decision to have a single entity is the challenge,” Warnell said. “The process of getting there is going to be a lot more difficult.” 

Greenways and trails to continue

Greenways and trails has not met since 2014, but Chair Nina Cannata said she would prefer to see the committee remain intact. The purpose of greenways and trails is to promote the connection and protection of open space through conservation, education and recreation. 

The evaluating committee said the group has similar goals as the parks and recreation commission and the historic and scenic byways, and its recommendation was to allow the committee to continue, but it must meet with both parks and rec and byways to share plans and ideas at least quarterly. It was also recommended that the greenways and trails committee be re-evaluated in two years. 

At its next meeting, the committee will consider the Canalfront Park marina committee and the capital projects committee.