Bethany Beach Town Manager Cliff Graviet reported to the town council at their meeting on Oct. 18 that he is not expecting beach replenishment contractors to return to Bethany to replace sand lost in the mid-October nor’easter.
He told the council that the beach had lost about 3 to 4 feet of its top coat of sand to the storm’s prevailing northeast wind of 15 to 20 mph and the resulting wave action. That sand, he said, had been most of what the replenishment put back on the beach.
But, he said, the sand had done the job of dulling the force of waves on the protective dune behind it, and the dune had been “pretty well spared” as a result. Issues remained, he said, with the dune crossings, while the dune fencing had not yet been restored prior to the storm.
Graviet contrasted the situation with that of the prior major reconstruction project, when a nor’easter had also undone much of the restoration of sand just as the work was being completed. In that case, contractors remained on site longer than planned to restore what was lost to that storm, citing that their work hadn’t technically been completed and that, after the storm, was no longer up to the design specifications for the project.
“Because this was a just a supplemental replenishment, and because it was funded through Hurricane Sandy relief funding, the contractor and Corps will not be coming back to replace the sand that was lost,” he said. “The dune crossing will be repaired, but the sand we have is the sand we have until the next replenishment.”
He noted that a recent southerly flow of the ocean was likely to help rebuild the beach, and though the higher sand that protects the dune was gone, it was “as good as we usually expect this time of year.”
Town gets off-season projects under way
Graviet also reported on Oct. 18 that the Town’s public works staff has a number of projects queued up for the off-season, including some stormwater projects. He pointed to the installation of a pipe near the Dolphin Manor development, where an underground pipe was installed — in contrast to the usual open swales.
He said staff had been forced to go underground because the swale there was difficult to reach and noted that they would likely have to do something similar along Hudson and Tingle to take care of similar problems there.
The town manager also reported significant progress on the early stages of construction of the new water tower, with 55 cast pilings installed, resulting, he said, in “a lot of noise and confusion.” But, he emphasized, “The neighbors were comfortable with everything,” as evidenced by a lack of complaints to the Town. Contractors on Oct. 18 were in the process of putting in forms for the foundation, which he said will be “massive.”
Graviet reported that the resumption of the Streetscape project on Garfield Parkway had been moved back to the following week because of weather-related delays for the contractor. Traffic on the 100 block of the street is being moved to the north-side lanes during the work on the south-side lanes, he said, with the contractor expected to be back on schedule within a week or two.
service gets sliding-scale impact fee
Also on Oct. 18, the council voted 6-1 to approve a new sliding scale for water impact fees, which will take into account larger sizes of water meters than are usually installed for residential use — which typically gets a 1-inch meter.
Graviet said the sliding scale would apply to both residential and commercial property and was something new in Bethany Beach.
“We have had an impact fee related to the delivery of water service to residential property, and the service we install today is universally a 1-inch service,” he noted.
That impact fee is $5,250 for new construction, with homes constructed before 1989 that need new service (because of a demolition and reconstruction, or otherwise) paying the difference between the $1,750 fee from 1989 and the current fee, and those constructed since then paying the full impact fee.
The sliding-scale impact fee, he said, was suggested as a way for the Town to accommodate the home owner or commercial property owner who wants 1.5-inch or 2-inch water service. It would apply a ratio of the water service size increase to the base impact fee, doubling the fee for 2-inch service, for instance.
“There are other jurisdictions who heavily regulate water who support this kind of system,” he noted, adding that they had also looked at using a system of equivalent dwelling units (EDUs) but found that the sliding scale was fairly basic and seemed a fair way to assess the impact of the larger service demand on the system and hence charge appropriately.
The fee is a one-time impact fee, he emphasized, “your buy-in to the system.”
Councilman Joseph Healy took issue with the idea of the fee multiplier. “It seems odd to me to have a 100 percent multiplier,” he said, “because you already have the basic use of the water.”
Councilman Lew Killmer offered the example of a hotel, with the redevelopment of the Bethany Arms Motel property in progress, and its expected roughly 112 rooms and 112 bathrooms and associated uses.
“We have to maintain a certain level of water in reserve on a year-round basis,” he said. “Part of this fee goes into making sure we are having enough money put aside to maintain a high level of service to the community. It’s not just the water they use. It’s about maintaining and upgrading our facility.”
“Which we’re doing now, at a huge expense to the Town,” Mayor Tony McClenny put in.
Killmer noted that the change will affect very few people. “Because we’re built out,” McClenny added, with Killmer reiterating that almost all new residential construction will use 1-inch service. “But we do have to take into consideration that when there are unusual demands, that increases the cost of the buy-in,” Killmer said.
Graviet said that water department staff had said it was unlikely anyone would ever ask for water service of exceptionally large size, such as a 6-, 8- or 10-inch water line.
The council voted 6-1, with Healy opposed, to add the sliding-scale water impact fee to the town’s Schedule of Fees.
Also at the Oct. 18 meeting:
• The council discussed a planned Nov. 2 public workshop at which developer Jack Burbage is to make a presentation that will describe the hotel he plans to construct on the former Bethany Arms Motel property.
Council members said they wanted the discussion at the workshop to be limited to topics “from this point forward” — such as issues raised by the detailing of elements of the Commercial Lodging (CL-1) zone legislation, such as parking and amenities — rather than returning to the issue of whether the hotel should be built there.
• Town officials reported receiving a “short but meaningful note” from one of the families that visited the town as part of Operation Seas the Day, which opened local beach homes to military families for a week this summer.
• The council unanimously approved guidelines for standing committees, as well as the creation of the new 4th of July Parade Committee, as the Town integrates the formerly volunteer-run event into its own entertainment offerings.
Killmer suggested a handful of minor changes to committee guidelines, which the council voted to approve, while they suggested discussion of more extensive changes to guidelines on ad hoc committees be held for a future council workshop.
Killmer also raised concerns about the stated scope of work for the 4th of July Parade Committee, but new Councilman Chuck Peterson, who is to chair the committee, said that the committee was still in the process of being restructured and would have those changes reflected in its stated scope as the new shape took form.
• The council voted unanimously to reappoint chairpersons of all of the standing committees, including Patrick Shepley for the Audit Committee, Dorfman for the Budget & Finance Committee, Peterson for the Charter & Ordinance Review Committee, former councilwoman Carol Olmstead for the Cultural & Historical Affairs Committee and Killmer for the Non-Residential Design Review Committee. Peterson was also formally appointed to head the Parade Committee.
• The council voted 6-0, with Healy abstaining, to reappoint Board of Adjustment member Vahan Moushegian to a new three-year term, ending Oct. 20, 2016, and to also appoint Bruce Frye to a three-year BoA term.
Healy told the council that he wanted to be clear in that he favored reappointing longtime BoA chairman J. Robert “Bob” Parsons to a new term. But he said his preference for Parsons in no way reflected upon McClenny’s picks of Frye and Moshiegan, “as both are fully qualified.”