Lewes passes revised source water protection ordinance

Provisions for homes on less than an acre removed
January 14, 2022

Lewes Mayor and City Council approved a revised version of a new source water protection ordinance at its Jan. 10 meeting.

The latest draft removes any provisions for properties less than one acre within the city’s excellent recharge area, which applies to the majority of Lewes Beach. Instead, the ordinance only applies to major subdivisions of 1 acre or larger, or site-development plans of 1 acre or larger. 

City Manager Ann Marie Townshend said staff heard concerns from residents at a Dec. 6 public hearing. 

“The argument they were making is that [water on Lewes Beach] does not feed our drinking water,” she said. “I understand that, and that was a good point, but to me, the compelling thing is that they have 5,000-square-foot lots that are already platted. That makes it very difficult to put this on them.”

When Townshend worked for the City of Dover, she said, the source water protection ordinance did not apply to existing lots; it only applied to new development. She said it was an acceptable approach to the state then, so it made sense to apply it to Lewes too.

By adopting the latest version of the ordinance, mayor and city council changed the maximum lot coverage permitted for most properties within the excellent recharge area.

The previous ordinance, adopted in 2008 but rarely enforced, limited property owners to 20 percent maximum coverage, with the ability to expand to 50 percent with an environmental assessment impact report. 

The new ordinance removes that overlay for properties less than an acre, and those property owners may now build to the maximum lot coverage permitted by zoning code. For most Lewes Beach lots, that means maximum lot coverage for properties is now 65 percent.

For properties larger than an acre, the 20 percent/50 percent provision remains in place.

The November draft of the ordinance, on which the public based their comments at the Dec. 6 hearing, required small-lot owners to construct all driveways, walkways, decks and other paved surfaces with pervious material. Those provisions were removed prior to the final draft.

Townshend said more discussion is needed to better define what materials are considered pervious, and that issue may be taken up at a later time. 


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