Lewes planners discuss allowing nonresidents on panel

Motion fails, discussion moved to future meeting
February 27, 2024

The Lewes Planning Commission failed to approve a motion that would have recommended to mayor and city council that up to two nonresident property owners be allowed to serve on the panel.

The vote at the Feb. 21 meeting ended in a 4-4 tie, with one commissioner not voting.

“You cannot vote in the City of Lewes unless you’re a full-time resident, so I’m uncomfortable with someone who cannot vote serving on the planning commission,” said Commissioner Debra Evalds. “We need to protect the residents of the City of Lewes and our integrity.”

Commissioner Amy Marasco, who chairs the LPC’s Environmental Subcommittee, spoke in favor of allowing nonresidents to serve. She said her panel relies on nonresident members for expertise.

“It’s the intention of people who really care about this community, not just someone who has five rental properties,” Marasco said. “We need to embrace that our city is populated by a variety of types.”

After the vote, Commissioner Bill Davis proposed that no more than 25% of the panel comprise nonresidents, as long as there are at least seven commissioners on the panel. 

There are currently nine commissioners.

“It seems to me we have a robust amount of volunteers who are willing to put in the time and effort who live here full time,” said Commissioner Kevin Keane. “I think this is a solution in search of a problem.”

Keane and Commissioner Adam Thompson were taking part in their first LPC meeting.

Mayor Andrew Williams pointed out that commissioners are recommended and approved by the elected city council. Who serves on the panel is a matter of who is elected, he said.

Chair Nancy Staisey said the commission will further discuss the proposal at its next meeting.

Also Feb. 21, the commission scheduled a public hearing on the 25 conditions and two waivers attached to the Henlopen Bluff preliminary site plan.

Mayor and city council remanded those conditions back to the planning commission, along with two recommendations of its own.

The conditions include water testing of White’s Pond, and connectivity from Henlopen Bluff to downtown and to the neighboring Showfield community.

The panel will also reconsider the applicant’s waiver request to reduce the width of a required corridor buffer along Gills Neck Road. The commission previously denied that waiver.

Henlopen Bluff would be a 79-lot major subdivision along Gills Neck Road, south of the Freeman Highway bridge.

The public hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 20, at the Rollins Center.


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