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Lewes City Council approves transit pilot program & fire suppression review fee

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

The city of Lewes narrowly approved a pilot program for a city-wide shuttle service.

The shuttle service, dubbed the Lewes Line, would offer a low-cost transit option throughout the city and help alleviate traffic issues that plague Delaware’s resort towns in the summer months.

But a request to move ahead with implementation of the pilot program, including a lease agreement for the buses required, faced pushback from council members Monday night.

Council member Andrew Williams says the city needs to be looking more at ways it can force hotels and developments to take on the burden of alleviating traffic.

“You know, like I said, I think yet again Lewes is forward thinking but we’re gonna shoulder the load,” says Williams. “Here we are yet again shouldering the load.”

Other council members and residents want the city to hold a public workshop before moving forward. City council member Carolyn Jones, who led development of this idea, says the city needs to approve this plan now so it can actually flesh out more of the details of the program.

Jones adds the revenue projections are very conservative right now, and don’t take into account the potential funding the city could receive by selling advertising space on the buses.

The council approved moving forward with the pilot with one no vote, and one abstention.

Last year, Lewes became the second city in the state to require the installation of fire suppression systems in all new single-family homes.

Now the city is fleshing out the process for reviewing and inspecting these fire suppression systems, and the council approved a fee for this review at their Monday night meeting.

Council member Tim Ritzert questioned the cost developers may incur for large developments, when many of the houses may be laid out the same, and a redundant review fee would be excessive.

Mayor Ted Becker says the basic layout may be the same, but individual homes could be different.

“Many homes might look identical on the outside but when you get inside the space allocation, depending on the preference of the purchaser of the home, might be quite different,” Becker says. “And so I can see where there may be— if the models are the same it might work, but if the model changes internally, then it may not.”

The council approved a $150 fee per building review to ensure the fire suppression systems planned are effective and within code.

That fee will be implemented immediately.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.