Dagsboro council puts emphasis on precendent, denies development extension

Dagsboro Town Councilman Bill Chandler spoke about the importance of precedent before the council at Monday’s council meeting before they voted on a motion to extend a five-year sunsetting provision on site plan approval for Vines Creek Village.

“We have, in the past, denied extensions,” Chandler cited. “So I worry about the equities of granting some and not granting others.”

Chandler went on to explain the purpose of sunsetting provisions in the first place, saying they are set to keep a law — in this case, a zoning law — in effect until a certain date.

With that date in September approaching, the developers of Vines Creek Village were requesting a one-year extension from the present five-year period before sunsetting an ordinance to amend Chapter 238 of the Municipal Code of the Town of Dagsboro titled “Subdivisions of Land, “Sunsetting of Major Subdivision Approval,” “Zoning” and “Sunsetting of Site Plan Approval.”

“That’s the purpose of sunsetting provisions,” Chandler stated at Monday’s Town Council meeting. “It ensures that the developments are done in a timely way. The beauty of a sunsetting provision of five years is that it operates with crystal-clear clarity the same way, across the board.”

“Would this open up a can of worms,” Mayor Norwood Truitt asked when debating the issue, “in the respect of someone thinking that they’ve been treated unfairly?”

Of course, considering the hardships of land developers in a period of tough economic times, some members of the council did try to see the issue from the other side to spark discussion of the matter; however, ultimately, concerns about setting a precedent won out and a vote to deny the request passed unanimously.

“We have to look at precedent,” said Truitt, “for both this council and for future councils.”

The council also voted at the April 27 meeting to appoint Board of Adjustment Member Marjie Eckerd to a new five-year term.