The Lewes Planning Commission will hold a virtual public hearing at 6 p.m., Wednesday, July 15, regarding the addition of a wetlands buffer to city code.
A 50-foot wetlands buffer would be applied to major subdivisions with the purpose of protecting wetlands and encouraging natural drainage.
Development plans shall include a report delineating the location of all wetlands on the site, and the wetlands shall be flagged on site before and during construction.
Within the 50-foot buffer, the planning commission has designated two zones where various activities are permitted or prohibited. Those areas include a 20-foot zone on the upland side of the buffer and a 30-foot zone on the wetland side. The 30-foot zone is very restrictive, allowing only docks with permits, tax ditch maintenance and construction related to bridges, stormwater outfalls and flood plain creation.
Temporary and permanent structures are not permitted in the wetlands or wetlands buffer unless certain criteria are met.
The update also permits buffer averaging, which allows a developer to have a buffer less than 50 feet in certain areas due to nonconformities along the shoreline. Averaging is only available in the 20-foot upland zone of the buffer. The eliminated space must be made up elsewhere in the property’s buffer.
A wetlands buffer has been in the works for a few years. More recently, a planning commission subcommittee held five public meetings to discuss the buffer.
To view the full wetlands buffer ordinance, go to www.lewes.civicweb.net and search for the Lewes Planning Commission’s July 15 agenda. A link to the virtual meeting is also found on the agenda.