Nearly 20 members of Frankford’s Antioch African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church attended the April 4 town council meeting.
Antioch recently expanded the size of their church, and may now have to bear burdensome costs to install a sprinkler system.
According to Antioch’s Ron Hall, the church has been working with the town since day 1 (back in 2000), and he thanked council members for their time.
The new addition has carried Antioch past the critical 10,000-square-foot mark. Hall said they’d been informed by the State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) that the necessary sprinkler system would need to be served by a six-inch water line.
That level of water service would cost the church $900 monthly, said Hall. He asked if there was any way Antioch could be exempted or at least have some of those costs defrayed, due to their non-profit status.
Often, in buildings of this size, a six-inch main would serve high daily water demands.
“I don’t think the church should have to pay that fee when really, it’s just for the sprinkler system,” Hall said. “This is too much of a burden.”
Hall asked that council “continue to be a blessing to us, so we can continue to be a blessing to the town.”
However, Council President Robert Daisey said the town was in a tough situation when it came to giving Antioch much help.
As Daisey explained, other non-profits (schools, the fire department) were already being served by central water, and they hadn’t received any assistance.
“Waiving fees is a very difficult thing,” he said. “I believe it’s something we just can’t do.
Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader said he’d been involved in a similar situation at a church in Rehoboth Beach. The SFMO had required six-inch water lines there, too, he said — and those water fees came atop the $30,000 cost of installing the new lines and meter.
Since it was the first time some of the council members had heard about the additional burden, Daisey asked Hall to give them some time to study the matter.
In other business, council introduced a pair of zoning ordinances. One related to minimum square footage of two-story dwelling units and the other to a requirement that structures be of new construction only.
According to Schrader, town code currently made it difficult to move buildings into town, or from one location to another.
He contrasted the situation with Shipcarpenter Square in Lewes, where aged homes are the requirement. “The way it stands here, you can’t bring in historic houses,” Schrader said.
He suggested an ordinance that relied on substantial compliance with codes regarding plumbing, electric, heating and air might give the town more flexibility.
On the second ordinance, he said the idea would be to keep the total square footage down, but clarify the difference between one- and two-story homes.
Council Member Greg Johnson reported the recent demolition of the old, and replacement with a new, pavilion at Town Park, and council approved a $150 contract with Matt’s Management for additional striping between the Town Hall and the new J.P. Court #1.