Lewes parking regulations headed for changes

Stacked parking, vehicle maintenance and driveway material discussed
March 11, 2023

Officials and residents in Lewes can agree on one thing: language in municipal code could use some clarity. 

During a public hearing regarding off-street parking March 6, Mayor Andrew Williams said council was attempting to clarify language in code regarding off-street parking, and remove restrictive language. He said there are prohibitions against stacked parking, dust, and different standards for residential and commercial spaces.

The code states: For the purpose of these regulations, an off-street parking space is an all-weather surfaced area not in a street or alley, permanently reserved for the temporary storage of one vehicle and connected with a street or alley by a paved driveway which affords ingress and egress for a motor vehicle without requiring another motor vehicle to be moved.

Councilman Tim Ritzert jump-started the conversation prior to public comments by asking about the definition of all-weather surface. City planner Janelle Cornwell said it’s typical, standard language when talking about parking spaces. Lewes code defines all-weather material as a hard, dust-free surface capable of withstanding normal weather conditions. Gravel, rock or screenings alone without use of a petroleum or cement binder do not meet the definition of an all-weather, dust-free material. 

Ritzert said more consideration should be given before removing “dust-free,” adding it may have been put in there to prevent commercial parking lots from distributing large amounts of dust into the air and on their neighbor’s property.

“I’m wondering why it was described as a dust-free condition,” Ritzert pondered.

Cornwell said she has never had a complaint about dusty driveways in her two-plus decades of experience. She acknowledged that if there is a drought, which occurred in 2022, the chance exists for dust to be stirred up on a stone driveway.

Officials have proposed lowering the commercial parking space size down to the residential requirement, which is 9-by-18-feet. The result could be more spaces in commercial lots.

While that seemed to gain consensus, a prohibition of work on a vehicle in an off-street parking space created confusion. Believed to be created for commercial businesses, the code does not specify if the prohibition is applicable to residents.

“I guess the idea here is if you want to do something with your car, [the city] wants you to take it off your property and put it into a public spot,” said resident Kevin McGuiness. “You would also be prohibited from any repair service or dismantling of any equipment, materials or supplies in your driveway.”

McGuiness said officials need to review the language to decipher the intention. McGuiness, president of the Lewes Beach Civic Association, said his group attempted to clarify the code in 2021 to discover what is and isn’t allowed.

The amendments to the off-street parking ordinance are on the agenda for mayor and city council’s Monday, March 13 meeting. Public comments will be accepted on the matter until noon, Friday, March 10.


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