Ocean View discusses ambulance fees, speeding and more

Ocean View officials met with the Millville Volunteer Fire Company recently to discuss a proposed contract for the $35-per-property ambulance service fee proposed by the fire company.

“While, in general, the council liked the theory of it, we had a lot of questions at that time,” said Mayor Walter Curran at the town council’s monthly meeting on July 12. “We had about an hour and a half filling in the blanks.”

Curran said that, while the idea of placing a $35 tax on all improved properties in town to pay for ambulance service has been discussed, nothing has been set in stone. All council members will have the opportunity to review a revised proposed contract and give their comments before any other step is made.

Curran said there is certainly some apprehension for some, given the recent release of an audit that found that a member of the fire company had allegedly stolen more than $190,000 in fire company funds.

“We know where every penny of the Town’s money has gone in the past,” said Curran. “This particular tax will be for the ambulance service only.”

He added that ambulance calls have gone up dramatically in recent years, and the fire company is looking to keep up with the demand.

“Almost 40 percent of the calls are outside of the town of Ocean View and Millville,” said Councilman Tom Maly. “How they’re going to incorporate those properties into this?”

Curran said the department will solicit them as part of their annual ambulance subscription service.

“County Council is now paying much more attention that maybe this should be a countywide system,” he said. “That would force everybody who is a recipient of the services to pay their fair share. Millville does, too; we know that.”

The council is expected to resume discussions of the fee in September. If the council plans to vote on accepting a contract with the fire company, a public hearing process will give citizens the opportunity to comment.

Also on July 12, Public Works Director Charles McMullen said the Town has received a number of complaints regarding speeding. While the Town has ordered more speed signs, McMullen asked the council for their views on speed bumps.

McMullen said that on Oakwood and Daisy Avenues, drivers use the smaller roadways to cut through and speed in the process. He noted that Bethany Beach and South Bethany have used speed bumps to help deter speeding.

“I like the idea of putting some sort of physical impediment there to get people to slow down,” said Councilman Frank Twardzik.

“There’s no harm in trying,” added Curran.

Council members said they would send McMullen a list of areas about which they receive complaints related to speeding, and a master list will be created in the hopes of addressing concerns.

Beach Club asks for change in conditions

Windansea LLC, the developer of the Ocean View Beach Club, requested to amend a condition that was placed on the property when it was annexed into the town in 2007.

A condition of approval was that recreational facilities — for example, swimming pools and community buildings — should be constructed and opened to residents no later than the time of the issuance of the 60th certificate of occupancy.

McMullen said the site plan was approved; however, the recreational facilities have since been revised and increased to include not only an outdoor swimming pool but indoor pool, tennis courts and bocce ball court.

He noted that there had been discussion about changing the figure of 60 COs to 150 or possibly phasing in the amenities, per the request of the developer.

“We have 300 units that are being built in the Ocean View Beach Club portion that is within the town limits. There’s another section of Ocean View Beach Club behind it that is not within the town limits that is going through a review in Sussex County that will add an additional 164 dwelling units,” said McMullen, adding that he has been looking at the request from all angles. “What happens if, at 59, they stop building in the part that’s in town and start building in the part that’s out of town?”

Shawn Smith of Windansea told the council there are currently about 30 COs that have been issued, and there’s a concern about finishing a condo building that would equate to 26 COs.

McMullen said that, if the council chooses to alter the condition, it would have to go through an ordinance.

He suggested that council allow him, along with Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader, and perhaps a member from council, to have discussions with Windansea to hash out options. He noted that the council could approach the idea by requesting a bond be placed on the remaining portion of the community to be constructed. The council agreed to let discussions continue with staff.

Town wrangles with sidewalks project

Sidewalk construction has officially stalled in Ocean View, as the Town recently received a letter from the Delaware Department of Transportation, requesting an advance of $28,000 in funds prior to starting the design of Phase IV for the Streetscape Improvement Project.

As part of the project, easements must be granted for frontage where sidewalks would be placed in town. If all easements are collected, the Town would only have to pay 20 percent of each phase, which cost approximately $1 million each.

Curran said the letter stated that, not only would the Town need to pay $28,000 of the design cost, but if the easements are not given, the Town would be on the line for whatever costs DelDOT had incurred up until that point.

McMullen said he disagreed with that interpretation, having been told previously that the Town would only be on the hook for the $28,000.

“I was told that was all they would request,” he said.

McMullen noted that once the Town stops participating in the program, they will not be able to change their minds and get the offered funding.

“Once we’re out of this, we’re out. It’s a one-shot deal.”

Curran said it has been a fight for the Town to get easements for every project — be it sidewalks or drainage — and, at this point, it seems as if the residents don’t want sidewalks.

Councilman Bill Olsen said if the Town changed its sidewalk ordinance, perhaps more residents would be in favor of sidewalks.

The council voted 4-1, with Olsen opposed, to decline paying DelDOT the $28,000.

In other Town news:

• The council held a moment of silence after reading the names of the officers whose lives were lost in the Dallas shootings.

“Let’s hope sanity prevails again in our country,” said Curran.

• The council unanimously approved a resolution regarding the boundary dispute of Millville By the Sea, located in the Town of Millville, and Fairway Village.

• The council voted unanimously for an ordinance that would amend the Ocean View Land Use & Development Code by adding brewpubs and microbreweries as a special-exception use in the GB-1 and GB-2 General Business districts.

• Resident Tricia Supik of William Avenue voiced her concern regarding little visible movement on removing the fire company’s remote siren in town.

She noted that, while a task force was created and met in April, at which time the MVFC was presented with a list of questions, it had been five months since a progress report was made.

Curran said that he had spoken with MVFC Chief Doug Scott regarding the siren. He said Scott had been rightfully distracted by the allegations of embezzlement and had assured him that answers would be given to the Town by the end of September.