CHAPTER 415

PLANNING COMMISSIONS

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 22, DELAWARE CODE OF 1953, BY ADDING THERETO A NEW CHAPTER ENTITLED "PLANNING COMMISSIONS" AND OUTLINING THE POWERS AND DUTIES THEREOF AND PROVIDING FOR THE PREPARATION AND ADOPTION OF A "COMPREHENSIVE DEVELOPMENT PLAN" FOR CITIES AND TOWNS; TO PROVIDE FOR HEARINGS; AND FURTHER TO PROVIDE FOR THE RECORDING OF THE OFFICIAJ, CITY AND TOWN MAP AND AMENDMENTS THEREOF.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware (two-thirds of each Branch thereof concurring therein):

Section 1. Title 22, Delaware Code of 1953, is amended by adding a new chapter to Title 22, known as Chapter 7, entitled "Planning Commissions" and by adding the necessary new sections beginning with Section 701:

Chapter 7. Planning Commission

§ 701. Establishment of Planning Commission; membership

Any incorporated city or town may at any time establish a planning commission under the terms of this Chapter. A planning commission established hereunder shall consist of not less than five, nor more than nine members. Such members shall in cities be appointed by the mayor, subject to confirmation by the city council, and in towns where there is not a mayor shall be elected by the town commissioners. When a planning commission is first established the members thereof shall be appointed or elected for terms of such length and shall be so arranged that the term of at least one member shall expire each year; and their successor shall be appointed or elected for terms of three to five years each. Any member of the planning commission so established in a city may be removed for cause after a public hearing by the mayor with the approval of city council; members of the planning commission elected by town commissioners shall be removed by them for cause after a public hearing by a majority vote. A vacancy occurring otherwise than by expiration of term shall be filled for the unexpired term in a city in the same manner as an original appointment and in a town by the town commissioners. Such a planning commission shall elect annually, a chairman and a secretary from among its own number, and may employ experts, clerical and other assistants. It may appoint a custodian of its plan and records who may be the city engineer or town clerk.

§ 702. Comprehensive development plan

A planning commission established in any incorporated city or town under this Chapter shall make a comprehensive development plan for the development of the entire area of such city or town or of such part or parts thereof as said commission may deem advisable. Such comprehensive development plan shall show, among other things, existing and proposed public ways, streets, bridges, tunnels, viaducts, parks, parkways, playgrounds, sites for public buildings and structures, pierhead and bulkhead lines, waterways, routes of railroads and buses, locations of sewers, watermains, and other public utilities, and other appurtenances of such a plan, including certain private ways. Such plan shall be adopted, and may be added to or changed from time to time, by a majority vote of such planning commission and shall be a public record.

§ 703. General studies and reports

The planning commission shall have full power and authority to make such investigations, maps, and reports of the resources, possibilities, and needs of the city or town as it deems desirable, providing the total expenditures of said commission shall not exceed the appropriation for its expenses. Upon completion of any such reports the planning commission shall submit the same to the city council or town commissioners with its recommendations. It shall report annually to the city council or town commissioners on the activities of the planning commission during the preceding year.

§ 704. Adoption of official map

Each incorporated city or town established under the provisions of this Chapter may, by action of its city council or town commissioners, adopt an official map prepared under the direction of such planning commission and showing the public ways and parks therein as theretofore laid out and established by law and the private ways then existing and used in common by more than two owners. Such official map is hereby declared to be established to conserve and promote the public health, safety and general welfare. Upon the adoption of such a map, and upon any change therein or addition thereto made, as hereinafter provided, the city or town clerk shall forthwith file with the Recorder of Deeds in the respective counties a certificate of such action and a copy of such map as adopted or as changed or added to.

§ 705. Change of or addition to official map

An incorporated city or town so adopting an official map by action of its city council or town commissioners may, whenever and as often as it may deem it for the public interest, change or add to such map, so as to place thereon lines and notations showing existing or proposed locations not theretofore mapped of new or widened public ways and new or enlarged parks and proposed discontinuances in whole or in part of existing or mapped public ways and parks. No such change or addition shall become effective until after a public hearing in relation thereto before the city council or town commissioners, at which parties in interest shall have an opportunity to be heard. At least ten days' notice of such a public hearing shall be given by advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation in the city or town or in the county in which the city or town is located. No such change or addition which has not been previously recommended by the planning commission established by the provisions of this act shall be adopted until after a report thereon by said commission and no variance from a plan prepared or approved by said planning commission shall be made except by a two-thirds vote of all the members of a city council or by a two-thirds vote of the town commissioners; provided that the last mentioned requirement shall be deemed to be waived in case the matter has been referred to said commission for a report and it has failed to report within thirty days thereafter.

§ 706. Effect of the provisions of this act over public ways and parks

The provisions of this Chapter shall not abridge the powers of the city council or the town commissioners of any town or any other municipal officer in regard to public ways or parks in any manner except as provided herein, nor shall they authorize the taking of land or the laying out or construction of a way or a park or the alteration, relocation, or discontinuance thereof, except in accordance with the laws governing the same; provided that, after an incorporated city and/or town has adopted an official map under the provisions of this Chapter, no public way shall be laid out, altered, relocated or discontinued, if such laying out, alteration, relocation, or discontinuance is not in accordance with such official map as it then appears, unless the proposed laying out, alteration, relocation, or discontinuance has been referred to the planning commission of such city or town established under the provisions of this Chapter and such planning commission has reported thereon, or has allowed forty-five days to elapse after such reference without submitting its report. After a city or town has adopted an official map under the provisions of this Chapter, no person shall open a way for public use, except as provided under the sections of this Chapter, unless the location of such way is in accordance with the official map as it then appears, or has been approved by the planning commission established under the provisions of this Chapter, and, in either case, the grading, surfacing and draining of such way have been approved by such commission or by the city or town engineer.

§ 707. Establishment of public way or park to be shown on official map

Upon final action by the proper authorities in laying out, altering or relocating a proper way, or in the discontinuing the whole or any part thereof, or in establishing or enlarging a public park or closing thereof in whole or in part, the lines and notations showing such improvement, discontinuance or closing, as so established or effected, shall, without further action by the City Council or town commissioners, be made a part of the official map, if any, of the incorporated city or town in which such public way or park is located.

§ 708. Reference of certain matters to Planning Commission

In a city or town having a planning commission established under the provisions of this Chapter but which has not adopted an official map, no public way shall be laid out, altered, relocated or discontinued unless the proposed laying out, alteration, relocation or discontinuance has been referred to the planning commission of such city or town and such commission has reported thereon or has allowed forty-five days to elapse after such reference without submitting its report. Any city or town having a planning commission established under this Chapter may, by ordinance, by-law or vote, provide for the reference of any other matter or class of matters to the planning commission before final action thereon with or without provision that final action shall not be taken until the planning commission has submitted its report or has had a reasonable fixed time to submit such report. Such planning commission shall have full power to make such investigations, maps and reports and recommendations in connection therewith, relating to any of the subjects referred to under this section, as it deems desirable.

§ 709. Entry upon lands; making examinations and surveys

Planning commissions established under the provisions of this Chapter, their officers and agents, may, so far as they deem it necessary in carrying out the provisions of this Chapter, enter upon any lands and there make examinations and surveys, and place and maintain monuments and marks.

§ 710. Jurisdiction to enforce law, ordinances or by-laws

The Court of Chancery for the State of Delaware shall have jurisdiction on petition of the planning commission established hereunder to enforce any of the provisions of this Chapter and any ordinance or by-laws made thereunder and may restrain by injunction violations thereof.

§ 711. Powers and liabilities not conferred or imposed

The provisions of this Chapter shall not be construed to authorize the taking of land nor the authorization of a city or town to lay out or construct any way which may be indicated on any plan or plot until such way has been laid out as a public way in the manner prescribed by law; nor shall any of the provisions of this Chapter be construed to render a city or town liable for damages except as may be sustained under Section 705 of this Chapter by reason of changes in the official map.

Section 2. Effective date

The effective date of this Act shall be July 1, 1953.

Approved July 15, 1953.