Letters to the Editor — September 25, 2014


Resident calls issues into question

Editor:

It has been reported that, at the September meeting of the Fenwick Island Town Council, there will be a first reading of a proposed zoning change relating to the density of hotel rooms. I find it amazing that there will be a first reading of some change and yet what that change is has yet to be decided. Am I missing something here?

My belief has always been there cannot be a first reading until the details of said first reading are worked out and the public informed so that they can properly comment. Personally, I again feel that the Town Council and its committees are on their own course, regardless of input from the residents.

I really do not understand the rush that the majority of this Town Council seems to take when making such huge decisions as a zoning change. Zoning is the identity of a community, and changing it will forever alter that identity. To do so without careful planning and input from all those affected is an abuse of power.

If I were to request even a variance from zoning for my personal property, I would be required to send out a letter, detailing my exact plan, to all of my neighbors and then wait for a comment period to be over before I could present my case to the Board of Adjustments.

You are considering a major zoning change that effects everyone in our community and yet you have not even sent out a letter or posted the proposal on the Town’s website or the Town’s beloved “Twitter” account.

The proposal to increase hotel density for all of the commercial properties is exactly the opposite of what is stated in the Fenwick Island Comprehensive Plan. The plan states, “Site-sensitive and sustainable design within the context of a quiet and family-oriented community are considered vital.”

I do not see how significantly increasing, and maybe even doubling, the allowable hotel-room density in all of the commercial zone can be considered in compliance with the stated goal of the comprehensive plan.

The ramifications would allow for an increase of thousands of people on our beaches, an increase of traffic and trash that would tax our small community’s capabilities, and destroy the quiet family-oriented atmosphere that this community so desires.

The consideration of this zoning change was brought about by a request from a developer and hotel operator, with no ties to the community, who recently purchased an existing hotel and wants to redevelop it.

What has he brought to the Town for review?

Nothing more than a simple drawing that is a “vision” of what he wants to do.

What has he offered to the Town in exchange for significantly increasing the value of his property?

Nothing!

In fact, he even had the nerve to suggest that he may use it for an undesirable use if denied.

Really, are we just going to potentially double the value of this property without anything in return besides the taxes we are due by code already? I was involved in commercial development in Virginia, and I can tell you that no less than 10 percent of our development budget would be for community improvements outside of our development area.

This developer has offered nothing. The Town is not even asking him to use sustainable building practices, another theme in our Comprehensive Plan. I just finished a residential project in Virginia where that town asked for “Energy Star” compliance and significant funds for sidewalk improvements. Almost all communities these days are requiring new commercial development to obtain “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED) certification.

Fenwick Island has a huge drainage problem, and this development could contribute to that. If the Town of Fenwick Island really wants to follow its Comprehensive Plan, then much more needs to be done than simply changing zoning.

I agree that redevelopment of the current Sands Motel may be in the interest of the community. It is the way the Town is going about this that is wrong. Make the owner give the Town firm plans and commitments to enhance our community. Seek community input on those plans. Reach a consensus of what should and shouldn’t be allowed and then, and only then, consider how to change the zoning without the potential of adding thousands more to our beaches each day.

My personal opinion is that we should create new zoning for hotels only. Doing this would give control of the number of beds in our community. We only allow five bedrooms in a residential home in Fenwick Island. We should control commercial, as well. Why should we increase the density and subsequent number of bedrooms at this developer’s behest and ignore all of the residents that put these zoning measures in place?

Richard Benn
Fenwick Island

Chamber thankful for support with festival

Editor:

On behalf of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and staff, I would like to thank everyone who made the 37th Annual Bethany Beach Arts Festival a huge success. Despite the rain arriving earlier than expected, many artists reported a record day of sales for the season as the crowds took advantage of the beautiful morning weather.

Thank you to our many partners, including ResortQuest, the presenting sponsor. John Donato inspired artists of all ages with an interactive mural, as the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation (QRCF) held the public vote for the finalists of the $1,000 scholarship awarding to a local junior or senior artist.

Sponsored by Mediacom, the silent auction boasted over 90 pieces, with all proceeds being split between the four local elementary school art programs. When the rain hit, many festival-goers headed to Sedona for a wine-tasting executed by owner Marian Parrot and Kami Banks of Banks Wines and Spirits. A little flooding could not dampen the mood of the day!

The Arts Festival is a true testament of the famous quote “It takes a village.” First, the efforts of Dean Sissler and the Bethany Beach Police Department were much appreciated, especially as they maintained calm and kept everyone safe during the rain and storms. Also, the Public Works Department did another outstanding job of prepping for the festival and making the day run smoothly.

Lastly, words cannot do justice to how much the Chamber appreciates the work of the outstanding volunteers who went above and beyond the call of duty on this day. From the 5:30 a.m. crew who ran a smooth check-in to the volunteers who had to don garbage bags to stay dry in the afternoon, the feedback we received from your efforts, but most importantly of your positive spirit, was humbling and meaningful to the staff.

Thank you, Kami Banks, Lori Barnhard, Kylee Berns, Christine Bohner, Irene Bunting, Vince Cannon, Michele Clauser, Heather and Peter DeMarie, Ron Derr, Bev Foreman, Nancy Hoeflich, Max Hutsell, Gina Karpin, Jinny Kiralfy, Olivia Lein, Ron Lewis, Dan Lyons, Clare and Jim Mace, Terri Mahoney, Kevin McCourt, Jeanne Mueller, David Nilsson, Maddison Olley, Olivia Olley, Marilyn Panagopoulous, Jen Pavik, Anne Powell, Caitlin Rowe, Stephanie Shockley, Bob Slavin, Cameron Smith, Cathy Sourk, Gary Tanner, Gwen Travers, Pam Vaughn, Kathy Weaver and Cheryl Wisbrock. We are blessed to have such quality people who serve to promote community and commerce in the Quiet Resorts. Thank you for being part of our Chamber team!

Kristie Maravalli, Executive Director
Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce

Bethany guards get praise from reader

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Bethany Beach Town Manager Cliff Graviet, Mayor Jack Gordon and the Town Council, and was sent to the Coastal Point for publication.

I’d like to applaud the exemplary service provided by our outstanding Bethany Beach Patrol. We are truly blessed to have such a dedicated and professional group of guards keeping a watchful eye over us as we enjoy the often unpredictable conditions of the ocean that draws us all here to Bethany Beach.

I was particularly impressed by an incident in August when a young child’s foot became impaled by a fish hook. Several guards tended to her with a perfect combination of compassion, tenderness and professionalism.

Over the Labor Day weekend, we watched in awe as all of the guards worked tirelessly to rescue countless swimmers from the dangerous riptides that made the ocean unusually treacherous for several days.

Kudos and sincere thanks to each member of the Bethany Beach Patrol who work so hard to ensure our safety every summer!

Marylou Carrico Tietz
Bethany Beach