Fenwick dumps Dumpster-screening ordinance

After much discussion, the Fenwick Island Town Council this week voted down on a first reading a sanitation ordinance that would have required commercial Dumpsters in the town be screened with fencing.

The ordinance would have required that existing business comply with the requirement within 24 months and new businesses that opened after the ordinance passed would have had to comply immediately. Regardless, businesses owners and the council members thought it was an unnecessary hardship.

Outgoing Councilman Chris Clark, who has chaired the town’s commercial liaison committee for years, said the commercial district would like to see beautification improvements but would like it to be done “in a more encompassing way.”

“I don’t think this is the right way or the right time,” he said. “I’d like to see the commercial district go ahead with an overlay district, as opposed to one item. Let’s look at the entire district, as opposed to one item.”

Other council members agreed that the economic hardship it would present to business owners added to the poor timing of the ordinance. Councilman Bill Weistling Jr. added that no community from Ocean City to Lewes has a similar ordinance.

Betsy Mitchell of the Fenwick Island Shopping Center said she used to want fences to cover their seven Dumpsters, but after researching fencing companies and trash haulers, she decided it is just not feasible.

“The trash companies tell me it’s too much time for the drivers to prop the gate open. Substitute drivers can get confused. And the fencing companies said that the doors are heavy, and to install in concrete cost more money.”

She also said that, for businesses with limited parking, the added time the trash trucks would need somewhere to park would add to the feasibility problems. Jeff Mumford of Warren’s Station added that there was a time factor for the drivers and his employees, and the threat of even more trash escaping the Dumpsters.

“If they’re enclosed, people might just throw trash over the fence, and then you have another problem,” Mumford said. He also mentioned the cost factor.

Mayor Audrey Serio read letters from Tony Mellella of Ocean Bay Plaza and Scott Fornwaldt of the Fenwick Crab House.

“You can’t legislate good taste,” wrote Fornwaldt. “I’m all for making this a beautiful town. But tax breaks and incentives are more palatable than ramming a law into existence.”

The council on June 26 unanimously approved on second reading an ordinance regarding registering candidates in town council elections, aimed at removing contradictions in the existing candidate filing form.

At the June 26 council meeting, the council also:

• Awarded its residential curbside recycling contract to Allied.

• Approved Resolution 36-2009, regarding Emergency 911 re-addressing, to add the designation of Street to W. Essex, E. Farmington, W. Bayard, E. Cannon and E. Dagsboro and to make other recommended addressing changes to properties whose addresses were deemed confusing.

• Approved the town’s 2009-2010 budget proposal, calling for $1.486 million in revenues and expenditures, down 9 percent ($135,818) from 2009. The budget plans for $194,000 less in building permits and related revenue, no increase in property taxes (remaining at $1.92 per $100 of assessed value), no salary increase for employees, a 12 percent cut in the Public Safety Department budget, a 15 percent decrease in the lifeguard program budget (due to lack of funding from the State of Delaware for unincorporated areas), a 16 percent decrease in the administrative services budget, and an additional $5,600 in the government services budget to cover increased costs for recycling.

• Approved Resolution 37-2009 Special Events Permit, which sets procedures and fees for holding a special event, such as a beach bonfire; and

• Approved Resolution 38-2009, the 2010 Fee Schedule, as part of the annual budget approval.

Also reported at the June 26 meeting:

• DSWA picked up 26,600 pounds of recyclables in the town in May and had 554 pick-ups.

• Eight new guards are on the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol. Capt. Tim Ferry said they have had a busy early summer with 25 to 30 rescues in the past two weeks.

• Building Official Pat Schuchman said flood insurance rates were expected to go up about 10 percent after October 2009.