Lewes studying environment to improve code

Subcommittee members receive assignments, discuss scope
March 28, 2023

The City of Lewes is working on ways to prepare for and mitigate issues brought on and exacerbated by things like climate change and sea-level rise. The Lewes Planning Commission has formed an environmental subcommittee chaired by member Amy Marasco.

March 13 was the first meeting to feature every member present. Patrick McCoy, Joe Elder, Barbara Curtis, Dennis Reardon, and LPC members Melanie Moser and Bob Heffernan are serving with Marasco. City Planner Janelle Cornwell and City Engineer Charlie O’Donnell will also participate in meetings. Marasco told the Lewes planners during their March 15 meeting that the group, assembled by Heffernan, has a good mix of engineering, legal and public service backgrounds. She believes there has been a substantial amount of work done in recent years on some of the topics they are tackling.

“We want to make sure that we're tapping the resources, particularly reports that have just been completed over the last year, because there's no reason to reinvent that wheel,” Marasco said March 13, adding that she would like public input during the meeting and especially when there are public hearings for the draft ordinances. 

Marasco acknowledged that environmental issues can be tough; they must balance private and community interests with science, following the facts and leaving personal preference out of the equation. She urged the group to be leaders in implementing any necessary changes, but they also need to be aware of the implications for personal property values. The subcommittee will make decisions to pass along to planning commission members, who will then make their choices before recommending options to mayor and city council.

She asked the group and members of the public to remain civil when expressing their viewpoints or distributing facts; citizens will each be allotted three minutes of speaking time to engage with the subcommittee during meetings.

Topics the group will be addressing are floodplains, wetlands, water resources, drainage, permanent stormwater management, woodlands, surfaces, lot coverage, light pollution, climate change impacts related to zoning, electric vehicles, habitat and alternative energy. Each topic was assigned to subcommittee members who will analyze existing ordinances looking for gaps, inconsistencies and missing items. Marasco would like members to focus on the impacts to land use, zoning, and habitat protection.

She hopes to use this spring for research and possibly have an intern analyze what other communities are doing. At least one public session with residents is anticipated for this summer to help identify by fall which areas might need ordinances, updates or more work. She said early public comments have encouraged the subcommittee to identify incentives for property owners, not just enforceable actions against them.

The group's next meeting will be at 1 p.m., Monday, April 10, at city hall. More information is available at

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