Bethany adopts deposit for building permit review costs

The Bethany Beach Town Council voted unanimously this week to adopt an amendment to the town’s building code that impacts fees charged building permit applicants by the Town.

The council last month had adopted changes to the fees that officially established for the first time a reduced fee of 1 percent of project cost for 501(c)(3) non-profits, compared to a 3 percent for all others, except for the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company and South Coastal Library, both of which are exempt from such fees.

On Friday, Aug. 16, the council voted to adopt a code that helps ensure the Town recoups the costs it incurs for any outside consultant or other resource utilized in considering, examining, reviewing and making reports and recommendations concerning a plan, as submitted, or making inspections during construction.

All applicants for planned residential developments, major and minor subdivisions, and all construction projects that require engineering reviews, making periodic inspections or both, will be required to pay to the Town a cash deposit to cover such costs. Any funds deposited that exceed costs incurred by the Town will be refunded to the applicant after final review and approval of the submitted plans.

Councilman Lew Killmer said the legislation adopted last Friday also removes a redundancy in the code.

Like the reduced fees for non-profits, the changes go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014, after the 7-0 vote from the council on Aug. 16.

That vote was among the last to be cast by Councilwoman Carol Olmstead, who took part in her final council meeting on Aug. 16, after a decade on the council, with two of those years spent as the town’s mayor.

“It has been a very good experience for me, and I would encourage all people who care about their community to think about giving some time and coming forth in the future,” said Olmstead. “Some people say it must not be a very rewarding experience, but it actually is,” she added. “It’s very rewarding to know that you have a part in so many important decisions for our town, and I would have to thank all the people, the fine citizens of our town, who five times gave me the opportunity to sit at this table for 10 years.”

Streetscape to begin again mid-October, replenishment sooner

Town Manager Cliff Graviet on Aug. 16 offered the council an update on construction projects in the town that will be upcoming as the summer season begins to wrap up.

Graviet said he had met with DelDOT officials and representatives of Streetscape contractor A-Del Construction Co. last week regarding the $2.4 million project, which was to resume in mid-September, but which the Town had endeavored to push back further in the shoulder season.

Graviet said the Town had heard the concerns of its business community and that all the parties had agreed that the resumption of construction on the Streetscape project could be moved back to mid-October.

The first phase of that work will be the completion of the renovations to the 100 block of Garfield Parkway, the north side of which was completed earlier this summer. The work will then move to the “horseshoe” at the beach end of Garfield Parkway before moving on to the 200 block of Garfield, which includes town hall.

Graviet said the work in the 200 block will include both the north and south sides of the roadway, which will be reconstructed. However, he said the existing sidewalk in the 200 block will not be reconstructed but will instead only have ADA-compliant ramps, curbs and other access features installed. He said the entire project is supposed to be completed well before the start of the next summer season and likely before the end of spring 2014.

While the Streetscape project is being pushed back about a month, Graviet said his latest information from beach replenishment contractors Great Lake Dredging said they might arrive in Bethany Beach a little earlier than some had suggested, as soon as the first or second week of September.

Graviet noted that, of the $19.3 million in federal funding for the larger project — which runs from Lewes to Fenwick Island but does not include beaches in private communities — $3 million was going to the Bethany segment of the project alone. That will bring an additional 196,000 cubic yards of sand onto the beach.

He reported that Great Lakes was certain they would be done with Bethany’s project within four weeks of their start date and would close only sections of the beach where pumping activity is taking place. The rest of the beach will be open, he said.

Finally, Graviet reported having met with DNREC and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representatives two weeks prior, to review the persistent tidal flooding problems seen in Bethany, as part of a two-year agreement to work with the agencies to find a solution to the problem.

He said town staff had gone out with engineers to review choke points in the water flow, as well as access points for flooding to enter the Salt Pond and Loop Canal. The goal of the work is to find possible solutions that would both positively impact the tidal flooding in the town and be viable on a cost/benefit basis.