Lewes planners recommend approval of White’s Pond subdivision

Commission adds long list of conditions, approves requested waivers
November 25, 2023

The Lewes Planning Commission voted unanimously Nov. 15 to recommend approval of the preliminary site plan for the proposed White’s Pond Preserve major subdivision. But, the commissioners added 16 conditions they said will improve open space, tree density, landscaping and more.

“It’s a reasonable set of recommendations that will enhance this for both the residents and the environment,” said Commissioner Melanie Moser.

White’s Pond Preserve is proposed to be a 13-lot subdivision on 8.2 acres off Monroe Avenue Extended, along Freeman Highway. A rain garden in the middle of a cul-de-sac would be used as a stormwater management device for the community. 

”I want to recognize this development for leaning into the future on their green approach technology,” said Commissioner Amy Marasco.

Commissioners agreed on 15 conditions, which they approved as one package. They then approved a separate condition intended to save trees and wildlife around the pond.

The added recommendation calls for a 50% increase above the minimum number of trees required on the three largest lots, which all back up to the pond.

The developer had said some trees around the pond would have to be removed during construction.

“I’m hoping that more trees will remain on those lots and this will be a very easy accomplishment,” said Commissioner Jackie Mette.

Some neighbors expressed concern at an Oct. 18 public hearing that removing those trees would harm the wildlife habitat.

“I think it meets the intent of the public comments to do everything to protect area wildlife,” Marasco said.

Commissioners also approved a recommendation that the land in the cul-de-sac be used as open space.

Commissioners voted 6-1 to approve four waivers requested by the developer.

The waivers allow for the elimination of a sidewalk on part of Clara Lane, elimination of the grass strip between the street and the sidewalk, reduction of the right of way from 50 feet to 30 feet, and letting the street exceed the 300-foot maximum for a cul-de-sac.

Commissioner Debra Evalds voted against the waivers. “How many waivers is too many? I would like to see a plan that conforms more to our code,” she said.

Commissioners also approved a lot line adjustment.

The commission’s recommendations now go to mayor and city council for approval.

In other business, the commission unanimously voted to recommend approval of a reduction in lot coverage size. The commission’s environmental subcommittee approved the measure earlier Nov. 15.

The subcommittee’s proposal calls for a 5% reduction in most zoning categories. Currently, most residential lots have a maximum 65% coverage. Some commercial zones would not be reduced. 

The Burton subdivision was not included because those lots are already undersized.

The subcommittee has proposed a way to make up for the reduction. It goes hand-in-hand with its recently revised definition of pervious and impervious materials.

If approved by mayor and city council, homeowners would get credit for using pervious materials in driveways or under decks, which would allow for a higher percentage of coverage.

“They bought a property and they think they can cover so much area,” said Barbara Curtis, who sits on the subcommittee and helped spearhead the lot coverage effort. “I think we’ve resolved that because of the pervious coverage. We thought the trade-off was sufficient; that nobody would be harmed and the community would benefit.”

Mayor and city council will likely discuss the pervious/impervious definition and the subcommittee’s proposed updated freeboard requirements at a public hearing Tuesday, Dec. 12.


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