Core values guiding Lewes decisions
Many years ago, the City of Lewes adopted a core-values approach to decision-making in general and zoning in particular. The concept laid out by professional planning consultant Bruce Galloway was simple and straightforward.
First, identify and articulate those characteristics of the community that are most treasured by the residents and the loss of which over time would diminish the community and its quality of life. Then take a look at trends in the community and their potential impact on those core values.
Celebrate trends that preserve and enhance the core values. Take action to mitigate and reverse trends that could diminish any or all of the core values. The beauty of the system is its simplicity and ease of use.
Among Lewes’s core values are busy days and quiet nights; appreciation of history; the face-to-face intimacy that comes with smalltown living; preservation of internal communities like the schools, hospital and university; diversity; and the town’s historic and intimate relationship with the sea.
It’s this last core value that surfaced on the agenda of this week’s Mayor and Council meeting. There’s been concern growing over the past few years about the installation and unbridled growth of hedgerows and landscaping on the open space lots of waterfront properties along the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal. The concern is that the combination of gazebos, hedgerows and landscaping will, if unregulated, diminish the view of the canal for those living along the canal and the walkers, motorists and cyclists who enjoy that drive.
It was during the 1930s that former Lewes Mayor James Thompson, with great foresight, set in motion removal of bank-side structures and sowed the seeds for creating open-space zoning on the canal side of Pilottown Road. Those efforts, at a time when the nation was first setting aside its beautiful spaces for the public enjoyment of national parks, led to the realization of Mayor Thompson’s vision of Pilottown Road and its views of the canal as an ornamental boulevard. Allowing those views to be compromised would weaken the town’s relationship with the sea.
Action to more precisely define acceptable landscaping to avoid that weakening is in the true spirit of the town’s core values.