No more hotels (for now) as Fenwick passes moratorium

Fenwick Island will have no more than three hotels for the time being. The town council voted unanimously (with Councilman Roy Williams absent) on Feb. 26 to place a moratorium on new hotel/motel uses within town limits.

The moratorium states “the Town Council deems it to be in the best interest of the Town to maintain the status quo of existing motel/hotel uses during the Comprehensive Plan update process.”

That means the Town won’t issue any permits, license or other approvals for a new hotel/motel use in the town, until further notice. The language is not designed to apply to the existing hotels, even if they were to be torn down and rebuilt, since their properties already have a hotel/motel “use.”

The ordinance may be extended, changed or revoked at any time, based on a council-majority vote. Otherwise, the moratorium ends automatically in two years.

The moratorium lets the Town pause and decide which direction to take, especially while beginning the 10-year update of Fenwick’s Comprehensive Plan, to be approved in June of 2017.

In December, the majority of the council approved an ordinance specifically designed to allow the Sands Motel to renovate from the ground up and, in doing so, increase its room density to something comparable to that of the other two existing motels in the town. But some residents feared that ordinance could open the door to more accommodations and overcrowding in town.

With their voices heard on the issue last autumn, the public had nothing to add at the Feb. 26 meeting.