Eight to vie for four Bethany council seats


Bethany Beach will hold its annual election for town council members on Saturday, Sept. 9, from noon to 6 p.m. at town hall. There are four seats up for grabs, with four incumbents (Jerry Dorfman, Lew Killmer, Tony McClenny and Harry Steele) and four challengers (Charles Gravatte, Joseph Healy, Tracy Mulligan and Steve Wode) vying for them. Leading up to the elections, the Coastal Point asked each candidate to answer a series of questions to help voters make their choices before they head to the polls. Here are their answers, in alphabetical order:

Jerry Dorfman

Q. Please discuss your stance on the recent adoption of increased height allowances for pitched roofs in the town’s R-1 residential district.

A. Since 1998, the still existing ordinance allows roof heights 31 feet above flood elevation, with a 5/12 roof pitch. There are houses in R-1, as a result, with a flat roof that are 36 feet tall, built 31 feet above a 5-foot flood elevation. The new, and now optional ordinance in R-1, limits construction to 35 feet above ground level, and no higher, with a 7/12 roof pitch over 60 percent of the roof. It allows for greater architectural diversity, while not allowing additional living space. The footprint of a new structure remains the same, occupying only 40 percent of the lot.

Q. Please discuss your stance on the recent adoption of architectural guidelines for the town’s commercial districts, including a similar height-allowance increase in the C-1 district.

A. Here we are looking to the future by providing guidelines for redeveloping property in C-1. This encourages renovations and new buildings to adhere to specific and recommended design guidelines that will enhance the commercial district. While one-story buildings are allowed, two-story buildings are encouraged and three-story buildings will continue to be allowed, with cupolas of 4-by-4 feet, which may extend 37 feet above flood level.

Q. Do you feel the current council has been sufficiently responsive to public input? If so, please discuss what you think the council should do to address complaints about this issue. If not, please discuss what changes you feel need to be made in how council hears and incorporates public input when making decisions. Also, discuss how you believe public input should be taken at council meetings.

A. There have been a total of 21 public hearings, special meetings and workshops to provide the public with opportunities to speak and give input to the Town Council in the past two years. There were also two separate mailings to the homeowners of the town regarding the Church and Neff properties at the corner of Routes 1 and 26, and the Streetscape. The number of opportunities for input is unprecedented. No other council in the history of the town has ever done this. The council is working to perfect the process for the public to feel comfortable with their input at council meetings. The recent August “town meeting” had a synopsis of each ordinance to be considered, and audience participation was encouraged. We are continuing to work on the process.

Q. Do you feel the current council shares the same vision of the town as was expessed in the 2004 citizen survey? If not, to what elements of the survey responses do you feel they need to pay more heed?

A. Without question, this council has adhered to the wishes of the majority, in opinions expressed in the 2004 citizen survey. From the advisory architectural review boards to town shuttles, working to get federal money for beach replenishment, working on drainage in C-2, creating new bike paths and public areas with walking paths. We do not seek to expand or annex any areas adjoining the town and are diligently working on maintaining the small town atmosphere we all know and love.

Q. How do you feel about the council’s decisions to remove responsibility for the town museum from the Bethany Beach Historical Association?

A. This decision was based on the realities of the situation and with input at the Council meeting. Mrs. Young was the only one to speak for the Historical Association. Except for providing docents for the museum in Town Hall, there did not seem to be any other activity that the association was involved in, or anyone who really cared other than Mrs. Young. The town had provided most of the monies in their treasury and there also were at least two members of the Historical Association (including Mrs. Young) on the town’s Cultural and Historic Affairs Committee, at the time. The town has created a museum in the Town Hall lobby which is much admired and the Historical Association can continue provide docents as it has always done.

Q. How do you feel about the towns’ recent changes to handicapped parking, in requiring some formerly-free handicapped spots to have parking meters?

A. The Police Department, as well as citizens, had reported abuses to Handicap Parking in prior years — drivers parking in metered as well as handicap spaces without the handicapped person in the vehicle. It was decided to meter the handicap spaces as well as doubling the spaces available for handicap parking to 48. Twelve of these spaces are located at the beach end streets and are free to Bethany Beach residents with residential, as well as handicap parking tags. Thus far, the Police Department reports positive results with handicap spots left open for truly handicapped individuals.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed Streetscape project?

A. I am disappointed that the Streetscape project is not further along. There will be more public hearings and input before final plans are accepted and voted on by the Town Council.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed uses and use limits on the Christian Church/Neff property now owned by the town?

A. In the “Public Survey”, number 5-J, the question was overwhelmingly answered with 77 percent of the responses wanting walking trails with passive recreational activities. The Public Hearing confirmed the desire for this type of use. Council is trying to make sure that the public is heard.

Q. What — if any — initiatives or changes would you like to pursue if elected to the council? Also, describe why you feel you should be elected.

A. As far as initiatives and changes, my main goal would be to maintain our attractive small town atmosphere in the face of all the construction going on outside of our borders. Bethany Beach is my home, and working on Town Council is an honor and a privilege that I cherish.

Charles Gravatte

Q. Please discuss your stance on the recent adoption of increased height allowances for pitched roofs in the town’s R-1 residential district.

A. I think it was a complicated issue. Not everyone understood the reasons for the change concerning an issue that affects every property owner. It would have been wise for Council to have considered holding a referendum before citizens began to petition for one.

Q. Please discuss your stance on the recent adoption of architectural guidelines for the town’s commercial districts, including a similar height-allowance increase in the C-1 district.

A. I have a problem with the wording “highly encouraged” in reference to the 8-foot setback. If Council felt it was to be encouraged, why not require an 8-foot setback. The Planning Commission recommended that setbacks be required – not left to arbitration. Also, why did the Council feel it was necessary to bypass the Planning Commission and appoint an Architectural Guideline Development Committee for the C-1 and C-2 District?

Q. Do you feel the current council has been sufficiently responsive to public input? If so, please discuss what you think the council should do to address complaints about this issue. If not, please discuss what changes you feel need to be made in how council hears and incorporates public input when making decisions. Also, discuss how you believe public input should be taken at council meetings.

A. I’m not sure the present council wants public input. If they do, then they should allow public input during the discussion of items on the agenda and before Council votes.

Q. Do you feel the current council shares the same vision of the town as was expessed in the 2004 citizen survey? If not, to what elements of the survey responses do you feel they need to pay more heed?

A. There are people who felt the current council does not share the same vision of the town as was expressed in the 2004 citizen survey. The Coastal Point asked me to answer how I felt about the current council’s sharing this vision. Before answering this question, I went to the Bethany Beach Web site and read the results of the 2004 survey. The current council appears to be using the responses as guidelines. The element of most concern according to the survey is retaining the character of the town.

Q. How do you feel about the council’s decisions to remove responsibility for the town museum from the Bethany Beach Historical Association?

A. It is unfortunate that the town felt it had become necessary to remove the responsibility of the museum from the dedicated, hardworking volunteers of the Bethany Beach Historical Association. I hope the volunteers will continue to be included in the maintaining of the museum.

Q. How do you feel about the towns’ recent changes to handicapped parking, in requiring some formerly-free handicapped spots to have parking meters?

A. If the recent changes to handicapped parking (formerly free, handicap parking to metered parking}, were due to abuse of these spaces, more parking enforcement should have been taken rather than removing the handicapped spaces.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed Streetscape project?

A. I prefer to wait until after the public workshop and see the detailed plans before I comment on the streetscape project. My initial reaction was that it should have remained with the Planning Commission.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed uses and use limits on the Christian Church/Neff property now owned by the town?

A. I am opposed to present Council setting use limits that could restrict future needs for this property. Current Council can not predict what may be required 10 or 20 years from now.

Q. What — if any — initiatives or changes would you like to pursue if elected to the council? Also, describe why you feel you should be elected.

A. Changes I would pursue if elected: Ask council to consider holding a special election to fill vacancies on the Council. Thus, allowing the voters to decide. It has become increasingly difficult for residents who live west of Route 1 to find a parking space to go to the beach. The trolley is not the answer for everyone. Permit parking needs to be limited to residents and their guests. We need to reexamine to whom we’re selling permits.

Why I feel I should be elected: I am a non-resident and I believe non-residents need representation on the council. Currently all council members are residents. I feel strongly about Bethany Beach and its family values. I have no hidden agenda; my only goal is to represent the residents and property owners of our town to the best of my ability.

Joseph T. Healy Jr.

Q. Please discuss your stance on the recent adoption of increased height allowances for pitched roofs in the town’s R-1 residential district. Q. Please discuss your stance on the recent adoption of architectural guidelines for the town’s commercial districts, including a similar height-allowance increase in the C-1 district.

A. The height allowances and architectural guidelines, from what I have been able to decipher, don’t seem to me at this point to be a radical change. Their presentation and explanation to the community is unfortunate. I really don’t want to see this resolved by a special election, but if a resolution can not be reached, I feel it should be presented as part of our regular election process, where there is more likelihood of the non-resident voters participating. Let’s always strive to get as much consensus as possible.

Q. Do you feel the current council has been sufficiently responsive to public input? If so, please discuss what you think the council should do to address complaints about this issue. If not, please discuss what changes you feel need to be made in how council hears and incorporates public input when making decisions. Also, discuss how you believe public input should be taken at council meetings.

A. Public input is critical. Everyone recognizes this, but there seems to be a feeling that this has been muted. The hearing of public input at Council meetings and an appropriate give and take is essential.

Q. Do you feel the current council shares the same vision of the town as was expessed in the 2004 citizen survey? If not, to what elements of the survey responses do you feel they need to pay more heed?

A. A survey is a guide that the Council can use in defining their current goals and objectives and how these relate to the overall long-term planning issues.

Q. How do you feel about the council’s decisions to remove responsibility for the town museum from the Bethany Beach Historical Association?

A. The Council’s action regarding responsibility for the Town’s museum and resulting unrest with the Historical Association is unfortunate. This just points up the need for better communication.

Q. How do you feel about the towns’ recent changes to handicapped parking, in requiring some formerly-free handicapped spots to have parking meters?

A. The handicapped parking meter issue is one which, because of my occupational bias, asks first what is the financial quantification? My guess is that there is little financial significance, but a much larger psychological effect, therefore, at this point I would listen, but I am not in favor of the change. It seems to send the wrong message as regards our Town.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed Streetscape project?

A. It is not clear to me where we are at this point. It seems to me that its significance to the character of the Town would automatically have it as a regular agenda item at the Council meetings.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed uses and use limits on the Christian Church/Neff property now owned by the town?

A. I don’t believe you want to tie your hands as to the future uses of the Christian Church/Neff property. Proposed guidelines seem appropriate, but let’s assume this property could be part of the solution to our potential water issues. Do we really want to exclude this use or a use that, in the future, would be in the best interest of our residents?

Q. What — if any — initiatives or changes would you like to pursue if elected to the council? Also, describe why you feel you should be elected.

A. My primary intent if elected to the Town Council would be to: (1) Initially focus on the long-term planning issues and financing thereof for the Town; (2) Review and understand the current aspects of the Town’s finances; (3) Listen to the various issues that come before the Town Council and support those that will continue to enhance the rich legacy of our Town. I believe my skill set brings a great deal of experience, ability and independence if elected. Further, being a part-time resident possibly brings another point of view. Many of us wish to retire or live in Bethany on a part-time basis. Certainly these folks, as well as all of us, love our Bethany Beach.

Lew Killmer

Q. Please discuss your stance on the recent adoption of increased height allowances for pitched roofs in the town’s R-1 residential district.

A. Several years ago a significant number of individuals were concerned about the proliferation of large flat-roofed structures that also tended to all look alike in the R-1 residential district. The Town was asked if there was anything that could be done to enhance the “curb appeal” and at the same time encourage architectural diversity for future construction in the R-1 district. Architectural Review Boards and Overlay Zoning Districts were thoroughly researched and subsequently rejected because they were difficult to enforce, they tend to be subjective and not objective and they added an additional layer of unwanted governmental intervention.

A group, composed of citizens, architects and developers were tasked to recommend ways to improve the “curb appeal” of future construction in the R-1 district. Five proposals were presented and approved by the Town Council, and only the building height issue is considered to be controversial. While the building height ordinance is not mandatory and there are sufficient safeguards in place before granting the additional height allowance, the additional height allowance does create the opportunity for future structures in the R-1 zoning district to be architecturally diverse and at the same time protecting the rights of individual property owners.

Q. Please discuss your stance on the recent adoption of architectural guidelines for the town’s commercial districts, including a similar height-allowance increase in the C-1 district.

A. I am obviously fully supportive of all aspects of the recently adopted guidelines since I was a member of the committee who was responsible for the creation of the Design Guidelines for the C-1/C-2 Commercial Districts. The Design Guidelines provide a roadmap for identifying the unique and desirable features of our current commercial districts and provides a flexible approach using both written and pictorial guides to assist architects and developers to capture and preserve those exterior architectural elements that are commonly identified and found to be highly desirable with the Town of Bethany Beach. This is a living document that will only improve with time as all of the concerned parties develop an appreciation and better understanding of these guidelines.

Q. Do you feel the current council has been sufficiently responsive to public input? If so, please discuss what you think the council should do to address complaints about this issue. If not, please discuss what changes you feel need to be made in how council hears and incorporates public input when making decisions. Also, discuss how you believe public input should be taken at council meetings.

A. I believe the current Town Council has an excellent record of communicating with the Bethany Beach community. The current Council conducted a combination of 20 public hearings, special meetings and workshops. In addition, the Council sent two mailings to all members of the community soliciting public input regarding the planned improvements to Garfield Parkway (Streetscape) and most recently the uses for the Church/Neff properties. The Town is also in the process of upgrading and making more user friendly the Town’s Web site and the Town’s e-mail notification process. Regarding the Town Council meetings and meeting agendas, the Town Council recently added a synopsis section to each item on the agenda that provides substantially more information then was previously available to the public.

Recently the public participation portion of the meeting has been changed so that it occurs after all of the committee reports and the report of the Town Manager. These changes allows the public to discuss important issues that may need to be brought to the attention of the Town and permits further questioning of the Town Manager, Council Members and Committee Chairpersons. Public input is always a critical element in all meetings of any Town, but a balance must be maintained in the time that is allocated for public input versus the time needed for each item on the agenda to be thoroughly debated and discussed by each member of the Town Council, free of further public participation.

Q. Do you feel the current council shares the same vision of the town as was expessed in the 2004 citizen survey? If not, to what elements of the survey responses do you feel they need to pay more heed?

A. The vision of the Town that resulted from the 2004 citizen survey is highlighted in the 2005 Bethany Beach Comprehensive Plan. Most if not all of the goals have been met or are works in progress. Others require substantial future funding and support from both federal and state governmental bodies. Acquiring, maintaining and improving open space and other Town owned properties either has been completed, or is near completion. Quality of life issues such as a public safety, stormwater management, beach replenishment, the preservation of the “Quiet Resort” concept were visions expressed by the Bethany Beach community and are the same visions of the current and, hopefully, future Town Councils.

Q. How do you feel about the council’s decisions to remove responsibility for the town museum from the Bethany Beach Historical Association?

A. My understanding of the issue is that there was a reasonable amount of confusion over who is actually responsible for the operation, staffing as well as the collection and maintenance of the items that are on display in the museum. There are members of the Historical Society who also belong to Historical and Cultural Committee and perhaps this overlap of membership is the source of some of the confusion. The Town Council appreciates all of the dedicated support that the Historical Society members have provided and continues to provide to record, collect and preserve our Town’s history.

Q. How do you feel about the towns’ recent changes to handicapped parking, in requiring some formerly-free handicapped spots to have parking meters?

A. Parking in the downtown area has and continues to be a major concern to anyone who uses our beaches or enjoys shopping or dining in our commercial district. It is the responsibility of the Town to provide safe and convenient parking especially for persons that have physical handicaps. The addition of parking meters does not diminish the effort of the Town to meet its responsibility, but instead has the opposite effect of decreasing the illegal use of these spaces while at the same time increasing the availability of these parking spaces especially during peak hours of operation.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed Streetscape project?

A. The current and future DelDOT budgets will determine the ultimate fate of our Town’s Streetscape Project. With projected budget deficits reported by DelDOT to be in the billions, one can only hope and work toward having this relatively low-budget DelDOT project be approved and fully funded. The Streetscape Project as envisioned will greatly contribute to the overall beauty and accessibility of our downtown area. It will be a true “Gateway” to our downtown commercial and beach districts.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed uses and use limits on the Christian Church/Neff property ---now owned by the town?

A. The reason that a previous Town Council had for purchasing these two adjoining properties was to preserve as much open space as possible for the enjoyment of both the current and future members of our community. I took them at their word and as a current member of Town Council, I am committed to making sure that these properties are used in the manner in which the majority of the public feels would best meet their needs as expressed at the public hearing as well as the numerous e-mails that the Town Council received on this subject. The real issue is not the proposed uses and use limits. The real issue is how do we protect these properties from future development without affecting the ability of future Town Councils to make changes. This Town Council is proposing the requirement of a super majority vote (5 out of 7 members) before any changes to the list of approved or prohibited uses could be made.

Q. What — if any — initiatives or changes would you like to pursue if elected to the council? Also, describe why you feel you should be elected.

A. A term called “regional carrying capacity” has placed the expectation of a bright future for our Town in serious jeopardy. Inadequate roads, infrastructure and beaches that is exacerbated by overdevelopment in our surrounding communities has the potential of substantially reducing quality-of-life-related issues that we currently enjoy and perhaps take for granted. It is important, especially for all of the coastal communities to pool our resources, talent and energy to put pressure on our county and state legislators on controlling out-of-control development and redirect much needed county, state and federal funding to southern Sussex County. If we continue to ignore this elephant sitting in the middle of the room, one day it might be too late to make a real difference.

I have had the privilege of serving the Bethany Beach community as a current member of the Town Council for the past 18 months. I have been fully involved in all aspects of Town related business. I have served on the following committees/commissions as well as being a member of Town Council: The Planning Commission; Charter and Ordinance Review Committee (CORC); the Audit Committee; Zoning Ad-Hoc Committee; C-1/C-2 Commercial Districts Design Review Committee; the Town Shuttle/Trolley Committee; Bethany Beach Transportation Working Group.

By voting for me in the September 2006 Town election, I will be able to continue to work toward making Bethany Beach a pleasant and welcoming place to live life as it was meant to be lived. I along with the other members of the Town Council will work proactively in attempting to meet the needs and wishes of the members of our community.

Tony McClenny

Q. Please discuss your stance on the recent adoption of increased height allowances for pitched roofs in the town’s R-1 residential district.

A. The Planning Commission and their appointed committee, constituted of planning commission members, business community members, architects and builders created a number of proposals to enhance the appearance of homes in the R-1 district. When after two years of work, the Planning Commission completed the study; they requested Town Council review and approval of their various recommendations. One recommendation requested by the Planning Commission was the adoption of an increased height allowance for roofs with a required pitch. My opinion on this matter is that the Town Council approved exactly what the Planning Commission and their committee developed and that the height allowance is acceptable as it will enhance appearance as compared with a flatter roof and the greater pitch required will create a safer roof during a storm.

Q. Please discuss your stance on the recent adoption of architectural guidelines for the town’s commercial districts, including a similar height-allowance increase in the C-1 district.

A. A year or so ago, a group from the University of Maryland made a presentation in a public workshop, during which they displayed and discussed a number of possible architectural enhancement ideas for our commercial districts. Many of our citizens attended and indicated support for an overall theme for the downtown area. This idea lay somewhat dormant, but not forgotten for several months and then earlier this year, our Town Council appointed an Architectural Guideline Development Committee (AGDC) consisting of the Planning Commission chairperson, town manager, business owners, a consulting architect and two Town Council members. The committee operated within a strict time frame and accomplished their task prior to the deadline. The report developed by the committee was professional in appearance, thorough in content and included a tremendous amount of detail. When the report was reviewed in a public hearing and later voted on by Town Council, there was only one item that was contentious – that being the issue of an 8-foot setback, if a building was three stories in height. The resultant document was well done and will reflect positively during future commercial development.

Q. Do you feel the current council has been sufficiently responsive to public input? If so, please discuss what you think the council should do to address complaints about this issue. If not, please discuss what changes you feel need to be made in how council hears and incorporates public input when making decisions. Also, discuss how you believe public input should be taken at council meetings.

A. The current council has been very responsive to public input as evidenced by the 20 or so public hearing and workshops held during the past two years. In an unprecented action not utilized by previous Councils, we provided notification of two of those hearings (Streetscape and Church/Neff property) to every property owner’s address of record using the U.S. Mail. Many folks contact individual Council members by telephone and/or e-mail to make their thoughts known. Public input is very appropriate during Town Council meetings and is in fact an agenda item. Our Council meeting agendas are posted in advance and beginning with the August 2006 agenda, we enhanced same by including the entire synopsis of pending legislation in order to provide the public with as much information as possible. Those attending Council meeting are provided with an agenda time during which they can ask questions and make statements regarding any subject. Comments from attendees are respectfully heard and often generate additional conversation, thought and action. It should be noted however, that once Council has a motion on the floor and is in discussion, Council should not be interrupted repeatedly as we need to concentrate on the subject at hand.

Q. Do you feel the current council shares the same vision of the town as was expessed in the 2004 citizen survey? If not, to what elements of the survey responses do you feel they need to pay more heed?

A. It is my belief that our current Council shares the overall vision expressed by those of us who considered the questions and responded, when we completed our individual surveys in 2004. The survey results are in my Council binder and I read it from time to time to refresh my memory.

Q. How do you feel about the council’s decisions to remove responsibility for the town museum from the Bethany Beach Historical Association?

A. The Council’s decision to accept responsibility for the Town museum was reasonable. The Town has invested thousands of dollars in fixtures and the cultural and historical committee has worked diligently on enhancing our museum. It is everyone’s loss that some members of the historical association elected to no longer participate as docents for the museum.

Q. How do you feel about the towns’ recent changes to handicapped parking, in requiring some formerly-free handicapped spots to have parking meters?

A. The parking committee recommended a requirement for parking meter payment, when someone parks in a parking meter-equipped space, while at the same time they arranged for the addition of many new handicap parking locations throughout the east side of town. These additional spaces are available free to Bethany Beach residents, who use their parking permits. Both actions were appropriate and reasonable.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed Streetscape project?

A. The proposed Streetscape project should continue as it will enhance our downtown business area. The Delaware Department of Transportation has provided grant money to allow the town to investigate alternatives, which have been presented in public workshops in order to obtain criticism and suggestions from our residents, business owners and property owners. Although there has been some controversy over the issue (what’s new?), those attending the meetings and viewing the various proposals, provided overwhelming support for one of the proposed plans.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed uses and use limits on the Christian Church/Neff property now owned by the town?

A. The proposed uses of the property located on the northwest corner of Routes 1 and 26 were developed during a Council meeting followed by a public workshop and I fully support the proposed uses and use limitations, as did an overwhelming number of citizens, who expressed their opinions via e-mail or during the public workshop.

Q. What — if any — initiatives or changes would you like to pursue if elected to the council? Also, describe why you feel you should be elected.

A. Based upon personal experience, subsequent to the election, I shall propose that those individuals appointed to the Board of Adjustment and Planning Commission should be advised that they will be required to attend specific training courses and become certified by the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration in order to be re-appointed for a second term. The knowledge gained by participating in these courses will provide the Town with volunteers who are better informed and thus better prepared to understand and deal with Town issues and requirements.

To be considered a viable candidate for our Town Council, a degree of applicable experience must be evident. A fundamental expectation of a candidate would be that they have recently invested time and energy to serve on various committees in an effort to gain experience and knowledge of the Town prior to seeking election to our Council. My most recent six years as a full-time resident of Bethany Beach and my experience as a member of the Trolley committee, Charter and Ordinance Review Committee, Communications Committee, Election Board, Planning Commission, Budget and Finance Committee and most recent two years as a member and officer (secretary/treasurer) of the Town Council, during which I was certified by the University of Delaware for both Planning Commission and Local Town Government, strongly state my qualifications to serve as one of your Town Council members.

Tracy Mulligan

Q. Please discuss your stance on the recent adoption of increased height allowances for pitched roofs in the town’s R-1 residential district.

A. I opposed an R-1 height increase in testimony at public hearings last December and February and in a December letter to the Coastal Point.

Q. Please discuss your stance on the recent adoption of architectural guidelines for the town’s commercial districts, including a similar height-allowance increase in the C-1 district.

A. I testified at the public hearing that I supported the guidelines (with one exception). I concluded this after attending all meetings of the ad-hoc design committee and the Planning Commission and providing written comments. I felt the town gained by requiring there be commercial space in every building, establishing design standards, and establishing a workable review process to control designs while providing freedom for architectural creativity. In balance, the town authorized a height increase that may aid in keeping the commercial districts viable in the long term.

The exception is that I did not agree with the 8-foot setback for third floors being “encouraged.” I suggested in three meetings that it should be “required” and only waived for a building with specific approval of the towns design review committee in order to maintain town control. The Council had recommendations requiring the setback from the Planning Commission and the committee’s architect and instead chose the perspective of a developer on the ad-hoc committee.

Q. Do you feel the current council has been sufficiently responsive to public input? If so, please discuss what you think the council should do to address complaints about this issue. If not, please discuss what changes you feel need to be made in how council hears and incorporates public input when making decisions. Also, discuss how you believe public input should be taken at council meetings.

A. No, although some council members genuinely think they have been. The first change is an openness to explore additional ways of communicating.

Possible examples on listening include: (a) posting e-mail addresses and phone numbers for each councilman on the Web site (as South Bethany does), (b) calling citizens just to listen in general or on specific topics, (c) have a list of people who are willing to contribute specialized knowledge; (d) increase the number of people on standing and ad hoc committees and allow for open application to serve.

Possible approaches for communicating include holding quarterly briefings to the public with a summary available on the Web site, and posting written summaries of major pending council decisions with the pros and cons of options considered.

Public input for council meetings should be obtained prior to the meeting to the degree possible by calling those with known concerns or providing a contact person for the issue. Public input should be requested both at the start of the meeting and after the Council has discussed an agenda item without interruption.

Q. Do you feel the current council shares the same vision of the town as was expessed in the 2004 citizen survey? If not, to what elements of the survey responses do you feel they need to pay more heed?

A. I’m not sure the Council has a vision for the town in terms of long-term planning that directs priorities for the work of the council and the committees. Survey elements that have not been fully addressed include: a review of new developments and improvements; the survey statement there are too many cars using Garfield Parkway east of Route 1; new infrastructure be constructed to provide better pedestrian safety across Route 1; new development should be aimed at maintaining a year-round quiet residential atmosphere.

Q. How do you feel about the council’s decisions to remove responsibility for the town museum from the Bethany Beach Historical Association?

A. There’s a benefit that the work of the dedicated people in the historic society will be the clear responsibility of the town as town governments continue to exist over time. The real issue is what happens in the future. Can the town committee expand membership, finish its projects and/or contribute to the development of a non-government organization that helps preserve and communicate the historic values and character of Bethany in new ways?

Q. How do you feel about the towns’ recent changes to handicapped parking, in requiring some formerly-free handicapped spots to have parking meters?

A. It is an example of a communications problem. The specific issue is relatively minor.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed Streetscape project?

A. There are two designs, I preferred the one developed by the community in 2003, which is still the one posted on the town Web site. It widened the sidewalk by reducing a traffic lane and was more responsive to the 2004 survey feedback to reduce vehicle traffic in that area. The revised design now under consideration widens the sidewalk by eliminating parking that may have an impact on businesses, does not reduce traffic and maintains an unsafe bicycle lane in an area as congested as the boardwalk

Regarding implementation, I do not know if a multiyear action plan with steps and dates and responsibilities was ever developed for the Town efforts – if not, one is needed. The fact that Garfield Parkway is a state road increases the difficulties, but I do not understand how the council is controlling and managing the project, available grant money, and who is accountable for what.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed uses and use limits on the Christian Church/Neff property now owned by the town?

A. The uses and use limits as guidelines are a reasonable approach if future Town Councils have the ability to modify them as conditions require. The uses should not be in the Town Charter, as that removes the control of its asset from the Town. The idea of a supermajority of five council members to agree to a use change does not belong in the charter.

Q. What — if any — initiatives or changes would you like to pursue if elected to the council? Also, describe why you feel you should be elected.

A. Improving the council processes for listening, accountability and longer tern planning including finances. Wider ideas on how to get beach replenishment money; Clear understanding of the role of the Planning Commission; strengthening the intergovernmental affairs committee I believe I can be entrusted with a role that requires listening to multiple perspectives, making decisions based on the best overall long-term interests of the community, and communicating my reasoning. I am a non-resident and have no vested interests in any group, issue or personal project.

I have been coming to Bethany Beach for 22 years. My wife and I have owned at Central and Atlantic for eight years.

I worked at a gas utility in the D.C. area for 35 years. I earned an engineering degree, an MBA in finance and organization development, and an MS-Info systems. I managed $40 million capital programs, $20 million operating departments, served in the long-range strategy group, managed emergency response operations and was a first responder.
As a non-resident, I attend council meetings, most planning commission meetings, all Budget committee meetings for the FY 2006 budget, and all ad-hoc committee meetings on residential and commercial design guidelines. I am the current treasurer of the BBLA.

Harry Steele

Q. Please discuss your stance on the recent adoption of increased height allowances for pitched roofs in the town’s R-1 residential district.

A. After approximately 1-? to 2 years of meetings and public hearings, Steve Wode, from the Planning Commission, made the motion to adopt. It was adopted unanimously by Planning. I voted to approve the change to the building code. The height change was only one part of a four-part plan for more “curb appeal.” The squeal you hear about density, “McMansions,” “mini-hotels,” is a separate issue. That issue is based on a 1978 ordinance. Actually, density was reduced by this Council in the R-2 district by increasing the size of the lot needed per unit.

Q. Please discuss your stance on the recent adoption of architectural guidelines for the town’s commercial districts, including a similar height-allowance increase in the C-1 district.

A. A special committee was created to examine this issue. This committee had members from Planning, the Council and the business community. After 180 days, with meetings and public hearings, I agreed with the majority vote, from the committee, and voted to approve the change.

Q. Do you feel the current council has been sufficiently responsive to public input? If so, please discuss what you think the council should do to address complaints about this issue. If not, please discuss what changes you feel need to be made in how council hears and incorporates public input when making decisions. Also, discuss how you believe public input should be taken at council meetings.

A. This Council has held 20 meetings and public hearings in the last two years. Also, we sent out two mailing to solicit the town’s citizens’ opinions on Streetscape and the use of the Neff/Church property. Regarding the Streetscape project, we had a response of 20 to 1 in favor of the plan approved. The Neff/Church project had a 3 to 1 response in favor of the Council’s plan. I guess you could say we have been responsive, unless you were on the minority’s side.

Q. Do you feel the current council shares the same vision of the town as was expessed in the 2004 citizen survey? If not, to what elements of the survey responses do you feel they need to pay more heed?

A. The two questions that the citizens had the most concerns about were beach replenishment and stormwater management. We have hired a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., to persuade Congress to allocate more money for the Army Corps project. This is the same project that Rehoboth and Fenwick Island had done. We currently have a local project under way where we are handing out cards at the bandstand that shows the need for beach replenishment. On those cards, it has two links to their local senators and representatives. They then send an e-mail to them asking for their support in Congress.

Stormwater management has been my issue for the past six years. Since being on Council for the last four years, this town has spent over $400,000 to date. We currently have a large project underway in Bethany West that goes across Route 26 to the north. The total cost for that project, when completed, will be $7 million. That involves the famous “bladder dam.” And, until that dam is in place, North Pennsylvania Avenue cannot be done. North Pennsylvania Avenue is only 5 inches above mean high tide.

Q. How do you feel about the council’s decisions to remove responsibility for the town museum from the Bethany Beach Historical Association?

A. I had no problem with that decision. The Cultural and Historical Affairs Committee created the museum in the lobby. Members from the Historical Society can continue to work in the museum, if they so choose.

Q. How do you feel about the towns’ recent changes to handicapped parking, in requiring some formerly-free handicapped spots to have parking meters?

A. The Town voted to charge for out-of-town visitors. But we created free spaces for the handicapped residents of Bethany Beach.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed Streetscape project?

A. The original plan had one lane east and west on Garfield and no bike lane. JMT, an engineering firm and an expert on traffic, which works with DelDOT, stated that DelDOT would not accept the plan with one lane. I agreed with the majority of the public and I voted for the plan worked out by JMT and the committee. We are currently negotiating with an entity in town to add parking spaces lost in the JMT plan. Along with the C-1 plan, Streetscape and the landscaping, Bethany will become a town of no equal in Delaware.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed uses and use limits on the Christian Church/Neff property now owned by the town?

A. The proposed use, first suggested by this Council, was supported by a 3 to 1 response from the citizens of Bethany. Through e-mails and public responses at the public hearings, the citizens told us what they wanted, this Council voted to follow their wishes. Is there room for other uses than the passive ones we approved? Yes.

Can future Councils add other uses, if the citizens so desire? Yes.

Q. What — if any — initiatives or changes would you like to pursue if elected to the council? Also, describe why you feel you should be elected.

A. I would like to clarify the issue about public input. The Council meetings are not a New England-style town hall meeting. As former Mayor McHugh stated a number of times, “These are Council meetings and you do not have the right to speak.” But this Council, along with past Councils, has allowed the public to ask questions during deliberations. What became apparent was that some meetings were going on forever because of the constant interruptions from the public. So, this Council set a specific time for public input. It has taken a few meetings to come to a common ground. I believe that ground was met at the last meeting. We provided the public with the exact synopsis of the ordinances that Council gets. That would then allow them to be more informed and have the ability to ask the proper questions. Then, when it came time for Council to deliberate, we could do so.

I have taken my responsibilities as a Council member very seriously. I have voted on what I think is in the best interest of Bethany. That is why I worked very hard on drainage and stormwater management for the last six years. One thing that you can say about me, you know exactly where I stand. If you do not, then you have not talked to me about any issue, or you have not read any of my many letters I have sent this year.

Steve Wode

Q. Please discuss your stance on the recent adoption of increased height allowances for pitched roofs in the town’s R-1 residential district.

A. As a member of the Planning Commission, I was directly involved in this and other R-1 zoning changes designed to improve the street-facing appearance by reducing the “big-box” look. I look forward to discussing this issue when/if the referendum petition is successful.

Q. Please discuss your stance on the recent adoption of architectural guidelines for the town’s commercial districts, including a similar height-allowance increase in the C-1 district.

A. The Planning Commission is charged with developing and making recommendations to the town council on planning and zoning issues. The town council decided to form their own committee to develop the guidelines. The Planning Commission was offered only the chance to give input and make a final recommendation on the draft. The Planning Commission recommended a number of changes including a reduction in height from 36 feet to 35 feet. All these recommendations were accepted. The Planning Commission also recommended an 8-foot setback above 24 feet to improve the street-facing appearance. This recommendation was not accepted.

Q. Do you feel the current council has been sufficiently responsive to public input? If so, please discuss what you think the council should do to address complaints about this issue. If not, please discuss what changes you feel need to be made in how council hears and incorporates public input when making decisions. Also, discuss how you believe public input should be taken at council meetings.

A. Communication needs to be improved. (a) Town committees were formed to reduce council’s workload. Citizen committees were charged with researching issues and making recommendations. This isn’t happening. There are 11 town committees/boards with a total of 56 members. Only 28 of the 56 members are citizens. Six committees are chaired by a council member. Four committees have two council members. Some citizen members serve on more than one committee. Let’s get more citizens on the committees. (b) How about a “Steering Committee” comprised of the presidents of the BBLA, all the homeowners associations and a representative of the business community? The town would provide periodic updates to the committee. The committee could augment communication by directly informing their members and solicit and receive concerns. (c) List town projects in each Council agenda. Status the projects as part of the Town Manager’s report. (d) Council and committee meeting minutes aren’t available to the public until approved at the next meeting. Make draft minutes available as soon as possible, clearly marked as “draft-not approved.” (e) Council members discuss town business and make decisions at council meetings. The public should be allowed to raise their hand, be recognized and ask a question or comment after the council discusses each item.

Q. Do you feel the current council shares the same vision of the town as was expessed in the 2004 citizen survey? If not, to what elements of the survey responses do you feel they need to pay more heed?

A. Bicycle and pedestrian safety-related questions have been studied. Results clearly indicate improvements are necessary. Crosswalk improvements for Route 1 have been recommended by the state. We also need sidewalks and crosswalks on town-owned streets east of Route 1.

Q. How do you feel about the council’s decisions to remove responsibility for the town museum from the Bethany Beach Historical Association?

A. The Bethany Beach Historical Association successfully gathered pictures and artifacts, set up displays and manned the museum in the past. There are fewer active members today. The Cultural and Historic Affairs Committee was formed, in part, to assist the Historical Association preserve the museum. Better communication could have averted the reported controversy.

Q. How do you feel about the towns’ recent changes to handicapped parking, in requiring some formerly-free handicapped spots to have parking meters?

A. Abuses of the free handicapped spaces were reported but hard to police; 24 prime handicapped spaces were added bringing the total number to 48. Free parking in metered areas was eliminated. There are now 33 prime metered spaces and 15 residential permit spaces on east/west residential permit streets. Unfortunately, the change was implemented without adequate public discussion. I am open to suggestions.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed Streetscape project?

A. I was on the Beautification Committee (a sub-committee of the Planning Commission) that recommended a Streetscape concept, after many public meetings and workshops, that kept parking spaces; widened the sidewalk; recognized that Garfield Parkway between Pennsylvania Avenue and Atlantic Avenue is a “parking lot” and discouraged through-traffic. The Planning Commission recommended this plan to council last year. The Planning Commission chairman asked to be included in development of plans with the Delaware Department of Transportation (Garfield Parkway is a state road).

Nothing happened until Aug. 7 this year when “Review concepts submitted by JMT engineering for parking along Garfield Parkway and Pennsylvania Avenue” appeared as an agenda item at a special Town Council meeting. This is not the concept recommended by the Planning Commission. This is similar to an alternate plan developed and rejected by the Planning Commission. This alternate concept widens the sidewalk by removing parking spaces; adds spaces in the flower beds; adds other spaces — if negotiation with the church is successful. Traffic is not discouraged through the “parking lot” where thousands of pedestrians and traffic compete.

The business community needs to work with the town and develop a concept that beautifies, keeps parking and provides for public safety in this area. A successful business community is vital to making Bethany what it is.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed uses and use limits on the Christian Church/Neff property now owned by the town?

A. This is another instance where council usurped the Planning Commission’s planning role. The 2004 survey heartily agrees with the green-space usage proposed. What I don’t understand is why we need a charter change requiring a “super-majority” of the council to change the usage. We should trust future councils to make decisions based on the prevailing issues and the public good?

Q. What — if any — initiatives or changes would you like to pursue if elected to the council? Also, describe why you feel you should be elected.

A. (a) Improve the Beach Replenishment effort. We have a public beach. Enlist neighboring communities who come to our beach. Welcome the ad-hoc group of lobbyists who’ve offered their time, free of charge, to assist with the beach replenishment effort. (b) Change is inevitable. Bethany needs to proactively recognize and manage change. Change in Bethany is relatively easy – based on priorities established with citizen input. The real challenge is to manage change outside of Bethany. Sussex County development without necessary infrastructure, especially roads, is suffocating Bethany. Bethany needs to work with other towns, state representatives and associations, and directly influence realistic growth. The Sussex County Comprehensive Development Land Use Plan is due for update. Let’s get together and start there. (c) Sidewalks and marked crosswalks east of Route 1 are needed now for pedestrian and bicycle safety. (d) Communication needs to be improved. Issues reported in local papers, including this list of candidate questions, prove this.

My family has owned property in Bethany Beach for over 50 years. My wife Jean and I have owned on Atlantic Avenue for over 30 years. I’m retired from the D.C. area electric utility company after 33 years. Jean and I now reside in Bethany. Our sons, Wally and Chris Acton, and Kurt Wode, live in the area. Wally’s in Millville. Chris and Kurt are in Ocean View. Wally and Kurt now own Tulip, the store Jean started in Bethany 27 years ago. I attend most Council meetings, serve on the Planning Commission and am currently BBLA vice-president. Jean serves on two Bethany committees; Parking and Cultural and Historic Affairs. Jean is also the incoming president of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce.

I feel I can effectively represent you on council. I bring experience. I was a non-resident council member and on the Planning Commission in the ’80s. I’ve been on town committees and currently serve on the Planning Commission. I helped change the Route 26 design from two lanes to three lanes by including wording in Bethany’s Comprehensive Development Plan and urging the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce and the towns of Ocean View and Millville to recommend the change. I want to work to effect realistic growth in Sussex County. I need your help to manage change so the Bethany we all love is not lost.

For more information, visit the challengers Web site: www.bethanybeachde.net and the incumbents’ Web site: www.bethany-beach.net. Make your choices and vote.