Lewes council tables bonfire air-quality issue

Police Chief Spell given new contract at July meeting
July 16, 2023

At its July 10 meeting, Lewes Mayor and City Council tabled discussion of changes to its beach bonfire policy that would have allowed city staff to deny permits due to poor air quality.

City staff canceled bonfire permits in June after the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control issued air-quality alerts as the result of smoke from Canadian wildfires.

Mayor Andrew Williams said changing the policy in the middle of summer is unfair to the staff, and to the city’s residents and businesses.

Council will likely hold a workshop on the proposal at a later date.

In the meantime, Williams said, staff can continue issuing beach bonfire permits.

Police chief contract 

City council also approved a new four-year contract for Police Chief Tom Spell. Council members praised Spell for his seven years of service leading the Lewes department.

Smooth holiday

Earlier in the evening, Spell reported that this year’s Go Fourth Lewes fireworks celebration went smoothly. There were no incidents or accidents, he said. He estimates 25,000 to 30,000 people filled the beach for the July 4 fireworks display. He said his officers had traffic moving smoothly from the beach through town one hour and seven minutes after the show was over.

HPARC changes

In other action, council approved a code change to update the historic preservation architectural review commission’s criteria to include social and cultural standards, not just architecture, when considering applications for demolition or renovations. Deputy Mayor Khalil Saliba said the action corrects what he called a disconnect between two sections of HPARC’s code. He said the change ensures HPARC will be looking at social, cultural, architectural, political and economic factors when considering applications.

Joint Site Review Committee

Council also voted to abolish the joint site review committee. Williams said the planning commission will now handle site review of properties. If there are architectural components or if the property is in the historic district, HPARC can be utilized for its expertise.


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