Bethany Beach Officials Hold Hearing Tue. On Proposed Zoning Amendments


Proposed amendments to the town zoning code in Bethany Beach will be discussed at a public hearing Tuesday, amendments that town officials said “would mandate a significant change in the type of materials property owners may use for driveway surfaces and would regulate the type of and percentage of previous ground cover that must be established and maintained on a developed lot.”

According to town officials, the Planning Commission in January reviewed and approved these definitions to be added to the Town Code in Section 425-2:

        PERVIOUS MATERIALS – Materials that permit water to enter the ground by virtue of their porous nature or by their design using spaces in the installation of the material to allow water infiltration.  Examples of permitted pervious materials include sand, gravel, shells, and, when installed per current industry standards or guidelines, permeable pavers, pervious concrete and porous asphalt.

        NATURAL AREA – That portion of the lot that is dedicated to either trees, grass, flowers, bushes, other plantings and/or mulched areas.  Mulched areas shall be limited to vegetative ground cover only and not clam shells, decorative stone or other similar hard materials.

The Planning Commission also considered and approved the following language concerning Ground Covering permitted on Residential Lots to be added under Section 425-27 Exterior design requirements for residential buildings:

        Ground covering permitted on Residential lots.  In all Residential Districts, except for natural areas, all open air ground covering including but not limited to new and substantially improved driveways, parking areas, walkways, at grade decks, and patios shall be of a pervious material as defined.  Substantially improved shall mean an existing ground covering is to be more than 50% replaced/repaired or resurfaced.  Ground covering shall be limited to 45% of the lot area of which a maximum of 5% of the total lot area can be non-pervious.

The purpose of these proposed additions to the Zoning Code are to promote better storm water management on lots, by allowing for more absorption/ less runoff by both limiting the amount of ground covering permitted and requiring that all ground covering be 100% permeable.  Relevant points are:
•       Ground Covering refers only to any material installed at grade, open air and not located under another structure (garages and areas under houses on pilings are not included).
•       Lots can no longer be 100% covered by structure and ground covering.  The maximum lot coverage for structures (anything that is permanent and greater than 12” in height) remains 40% of the total lot area.  Pervious ground covering, including driveways, parking areas, walks, patios, etc.  will be limited to 45% of the total lot area.  Non- pervious ground covering, such as a pool, is limited to 5% of the total lot area.
        Example:        On a typical 5,000 square foot lot, the structure(s) can cover 2,000 sf, the ground cover can cover 2,250 sf, a pool can utilize a maximum of 250 sf and natural area will be a minimum of 500 sf.
•       The percentages add up to a maximum lot coverage of structure and ground covering of 90%, meaning that a minimum of 10% the lot area will be required to be natural area.
•       The proposed ordinance restricts the types of materials that can be used for all of the ground covering.
•       Some common materials, such as “regular” concrete and asphalt, and pavers that are not intended to be or not installed as permeable will no longer be permitted.

Citizens may comment in person at the April 12th Public Hearing, or may send comments or concerns via email (to be made part of the Public Record) by emailing them to:

Following the Public Hearing on April 12th, these proposed Zoning Amendments will be placed on May 20th Town Council Agenda for Town Council consideration and possible adoption.