Fenwick council discusses stormwater and dune fencing

Last week, the Fenwick Island Town Council held the first reading of a proposed ordinance relating to stormwater management.

Councilman William Weistling said the council had attempted to pass a similar ordinance a few months ago but held off due to public concerns.

“Residents were concerned about roof drainage systems in the canals and definitions of downspouts and gutters,” he said. “We revised this, and the purpose of it is to address stormwater management that the state will probably mandate to us in the fall. As Patti said,” he noted of Building Inspector Patricia Schuchman, “it’s going to help us improve our [Community Rating System] rating on the flood map, as far as flood elevations are concerned.”

Higher ratings on the CRS mean insurance discounts for property owners, so local coastal towns have worked to implement improvements in code and other areas as a way to garner that benefit for their citizens.

Weistling said the new draft of the ordinance addresses roof drainage into canals, lagoons and bays, silk fencing, the stabilization of ground using vegetation or stone and the drainage of pool water.

He added that the proposed ordinance also better defines roof drainage systems and grandfathers the existing downspouts leading to the existing canals, lagoons and bays.

“I think it addresses a lot of the concerns that people had before,” he said. “I think the work that the committee has done has satisfied my concerns and, hopefully, it will satisfy the concerns of the public. I think they’ve done a great job at defining.”

Councilman Todd Smallwood said he still has personal concerns regarding drainage affecting the surrounding waterways but believes that it is the right step for the Town.

“I think it’s a fair attempt to remedy a situation,” he said.

“This is a great start to a very serious issue with DNREC and the EPA… I think it’s a great start,” added new Town Manager Merritt Burke.

A second reading of the ordinance is scheduled to be held at the April 27 town council meeting.

In his monthly report, Burke told council that officials with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control said they plan to fix the town’s damaged dune fences in late summer or early fall.

Councilwoman Vicki Carmean spoke to the council again about her concerns regarding the repair of the fences.

“I really feel like repairing that dune fencing in late summer, early fall, is way too late. The fencing will go up just in time to be damaged by the winter storms. Meanwhile, we have kids and other people who don’t understand the importance of the dunes and the effort that’s been put in to planting dune grass.”

“It’s actually a safety issue,” added Smallwood. “Waiting until the end of summer is way too long. Is there a way that, if we did it, that we could get reimbursed by the State?”

“Good luck with that one,” replied Mayor Audrey Serio.

Carmean asked if there was some way to put pressure on DNREC to repair the fencing sooner. She also suggested contacting surrounding beach communities to see if they have any recommendations on how to speed up the repair process.

“Once again, DNREC is putting us off. Every time we need to have it repaired, it’s a major struggle, and we’re always last on the list.”

In other town news:

• Serio said that the Cannon Street Park Committee had met, and the basketball court has been poured. She added that the handicapped-accessible kayak ramp will be installed and Burke has applied for a grant from the State to help support the Town’s endeavor financially. She noted that the committee had received a letter asking the Town to consider naming the park Mary Pat Kyle Park and that they would be discussing that at a later date.

• Fenwick Island Police Chief William Boyden said that his department officially took occupancy of the new police station last week and hopes to be fully in the building and operational by May 1. He went on to thank the council for their overall support of the project. Serio said that the town tentatively plans to hold a grand-opening around Memorial Day.

• A public workshop for the purpose of reviewing the town’s Comprehensive Plan, which by law must be updated every five years, will be held April 21, from 10 to 11 a.m.

• The town’s annual beach cleanup will be held on May 19 at 9 a.m., beginning on Dagsboro Street.