OV votes to pay for Foxwood street lights, discusses deer

The Ocean View Town Council this week voted unanimously to accept electricity costs for the Foxwood Court subdivision.

The issue was first brought to the attention of council in January, when Gary Cordier, president of the Foxwood Court Home Owners’ Association, read a letter to council requesting information about streetlight electric bills that his development pays.

Town Manager Dianne Vogel told the council that she had reviewed the Town’s Land Use Plan, adopted in 2010, and the town code with regards to lighting. She said she had also reviewed 10 years of Planning & Zoning Committee minutes.

Vogel said the Town is currently paying for streetlights in nine subdivisions, and that the covenants and conditions approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission for Foxwood Court didn’t speak to the issue there.

“They were silent as to responsibility,” said Vogel. “The financial impact of taking over the three streetlights for the community would be $1,000 per year. The issue of streetlights has been inconsistently dealt with for many, many years. Because the Town is paying for so many streetlights, I think the precedent has been set and I think the Town may want to consider taking over the streetlight expense for Foxwood Court.”

The council voted 6-0 to take over the cost of the three streetlights in Foxwood Court.

“Having identified inconsistency, going forward, we should make certain this does not occur… We should be very clear at the outset who will be paying for the streetlights,” said Councilman Bob Lawless.

Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin reported to the council at their meeting this week that he had spoken with Joe Rogerson, the chief deer biologist for the State of Delaware, regarding the increased deer population in the town.

“We do have a population issue here, and Mr. Rogerson gave me information about different strategies if the council wants to address that problem now or in the future.”

McLaughlin presented a very large packet of information to the council — one given to him by Rogerson — explaining the Town’s options for controlling the deer population, which include everything from sterilization to capturing and moving the animals.

“One of the recommendations talked about the reintroduction of predators into the community — so, bears and wolves,” said McLaughlin with a laugh. “All joking aside,” he continued, “the biologist did indicate that we have 20; tomorrow there’ll be 40. While it may not be an immediate problem today, it will probably be something we may need to look at in the future.”

McLaughlin said that it appears the recommendation that works the most to control the population is regulated hunting.

“Currently, we have an ordinance in town that prohibits hunting within the town limits of Ocean View. Another option would be a controlled hunt. That’s something we would do in conjunction with Fish & Wildlife,” he said, adding that the cost for that would average about $500 per deer taken.

McLaughlin said that, if the Town were to do a controlled hunt, only archery hunting would be permitted.

“There would be no gun hunting permitted in the town, because of the number of residents we have. And, hunting within 30 yards of a home, it would have to be with the permission of the homeowner,” he explained. “We’re not the only community in Delaware that’s facing this problem. He said his office gets calls about this on a weekly basis.”

McLaughlin added that he had spoken with Vogel about the findings, and they agreed that it would be something the Town would want to discuss further with its residents.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of folks out there that would support the thinning of the heard. There may be a lot of people who would be opposed to it, as well. This might be something we want to wade into slowly.”

The council said they would review the information and discuss it further at a future workshop.

In other town news:

• The council voted 6-0 to approve an ordinance amending the 2010 Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the Town of Ocean View by Substituting Revised Maps 6A and 6B Relating to Future Land Use.

• Council members voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the Water Service Agreement Between Town of Ocean View and Tidewater Utilities, which extends the Town’s contract with the provider for an additional five years.

• Public Works Director Charlie McMullen said that the plans for the Public Works building have been finalized, and the bid packages should be available in four to five weeks, with bidding expected to open in early June.

• The 4th Annual Ocean View Homecoming will be held on May 11 in John West Park, rain or shine. Homecoming Committee Chairman George Keen said the Town is in need of volunteers for the event.

• The April 9 council meeting was the last for Councilwoman Michele Steffens, who did not run for reelection. She will be succeeded by lone candidate Bill Olsen, who is to be sworn in at the April 23 reorganizational meeting. Steffens was given a gift certificate to a local restaurant as a token of the Town’s appreciation of her service.

“We’re going to miss you,” said Lawless.

“It has been a very worthwhile three years. I definitely love my town. It was a pleasure to be up here,” said Steffens.