South Bethany approves plan

South Bethany has a 99.44-percent approved comprehensive development plan (CDP), as of a special meeting/workshop on Nov. 17. Town council members voted 6-0 at that meeting (Mayor Gary Jayne absent) to forward an updated CDP to the state for final check-off and review, en route plan certification.
“It’s on its way to Dover,” noted Council Member John Fields.

Unbeknownst to many, it’s been a long time coming. As Fields pointed out, there had been a period through which the town labored under the mistaken impression the state had already certified South Bethany’s plan.

“We’re supposed to have a comprehensive plan, by law,” he said. “And we’ve had one for the past several years — but it was never officially approved.”

In fact, state maps delineating which towns had acquired their certified plans, and which hadn’t, colored South Bethany in green (green meaning their plan was good). But that was in error.

Fields picked up the assignment of liaison to the town’s Planning Commission shortly after winning election to council last year. He said the mayor and council had placed the CDP matter at the top of the commission’s to-do list.

So, Fields recruited a new handful of commissioners, council signed off on his recommendations, and the commission got to work on an update of the (almost legal) 1999 CDP.

Ron Wuslich chaired the commission, but Fields recognized all involved. (With Wuslich, the commission comprises Sue Allenspach, Tom Baker, Joan DeSantis and John Speer.)

“They did a really good job,” Fields said. “They worked hard on it for, really, a year. We set them a goal, to get a plan written, finalized and approved, and by golly, they did it.”

They saved a buck, too — this time — by doing it themselves. Most towns utilize the Institute for Public Administration (IPA), out of the University of Delaware, but South Bethany is quite unlike most towns.

South Bethany is not growing, at all.

Neither the residents nor their town council representatives have expressed much interest in expanding town borders to acquire outlying bits of county land. Meanwhile, the area inside town borders is nearly built out, so the South Bethany is not only not growing, it’s not changing much and isn’t likely to change much.

“We don’t have the issues that Ocean View or Millville, or many of the other towns have,” Fields pointed out.

Council will still have to wrestle with the teardown and replacement “mini-hotels” for quaint single-family homes, but at least partially imposed restrictions on such activity with the passage of a hotly debated ordinance, last year.

(Two ratios — maximum floor area versus lot size, and maximum livable area versus floor area — somewhat restrict home size. A maximum of one kitchen and four bathrooms somewhat controls the distortion of the single-family-home definition.)