Kent County eyes site plan exemption for business expansions

DOVER — An ordinance that would allow site plan exemption for small business expansions up to 5,000 square feet of “impervious cover” was unanimously embraced by Levy Court commissioners at their Tuesday night meeting.

The planning department notes that it would save business owners planning a modest expansion on their properties money and time.
Being an ordinance to amend county code, the measure will need to be subject to a public hearing to be scheduled in September.

Kent County planning director Sarah Keifer noted that business owners planning to build expansions on their property often don’t realize that a formal site plan is required during the approval process.

“They’re doing well and growing and they come to us not realizing what we require,” she said. “It’s usually unexpected. It adds an unexpected cost without adding a whole lot of value.”

Between paying for engineer drawings and waiting for meetings with the county’s planning office, the process can often be a considerable hindrance, Ms. Keifer suggested.

“If you factor in the engineering and associated costs, those probably even dwarf the two and a half months our meeting schedule process takes,” she said. “This will saves time and money for relatively small expansions to businesses.”

The exemption, which also includes smaller structures under 300 square feet, can also potentially benefit Home Owners Associations (HOAs) in the county.

“HOAs who want to make small improvements to their open spaces won’t have to be saddled with site plan revisions and engineer drawings,” said Ms. Keifer.

The ordinance is a one-time exemption, so subsequent expansions would not qualify.

Feeling that the bill was business-friendly and a step in the right direction, 4th District Levy Court Commissioner Eric Buckson applauded the proposal and hopes it passes in September.

“When we do these types of things, I really get excited about it,” he said.

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