Bethany recognizes mistake, drops citations

People who love Bethany Beach truly love Bethany Beach.

They mention how quiet the town is, or how well the beach is maintained or the quaint shops downtown that add to a terrific walking experience on a sunny day. The quaintness and peace in Bethany Beach is not an accident, as town officials and law enforcement personnel do a spectacular job of listening to what residents of the town want, and then doing everything in their power to provide them the kind of atmosphere they desire.

Sometimes, however, finding the perfect balance between a quiet town that caters to its residents and one that works well with others is a difficult tightrope exercise. And that’s what we saw play out last week.

Six citations were issued by Bethany Beach police to contractors working on Black Friday. The town has an ordinance in place that forbids heavy construction work on holidays and weekends so that residents can enjoy the solitude and peace of the town on designated days without having to bear with the sounds associated with drills and hammers and saws.

The citations were eventually dismissed, as town employees saw that Black Friday was designated as a holiday as far as employees being off work, but not necessarily in regards to construction work being banned.

We see this as an honest mistake by town employees who were looking out for the welfare of the town’s residents, and we applaud officials for voiding the citations and not punishing workers who were simply trying to get their jobs done on a day they thought they were permitted to do just that.

The Town of Bethany Beach, and any other municipality, for that matter, has the right, and the obligation, to make and enforce any ordinances they believe benefit the quality of life for its residents, and this is an ordinance that is rooted in good intentions. If contractors desire to work within the town limits, then they have to accept and follow the rules laid out before them. We think everybody agrees with those two schools of thought.

And though we accept that employees made an honest mistake in citing these builders as they worked on Black Friday, and are thankful that officials stepped in and overturned those citations, we also believe the contractors were impacted not only by receiving the citations, but also by missing a full day of work because of the snafu. Builders have deadlines, and any unexpected interruption in their efforts could have both short- and long-term effects for them financially and by reputation.

Again, we accept that this was an honest mistake, but we hope these ordinances are more clear in the future. We all make mistakes in life — the key is to not keep repeating them.