Ocean View moves to establish historic district

A first reading of an ordinance to amend the Ocean View Zoning Code to create an overlay zone to be known as “HPOZ Historic Preservation District” was introduced Tuesday night, Feb. 10, by Councilman Richard Nippes.

Nippes emphasized that the proposed ordinance simply is to establish geographical boundaries for the new zone and not – as yet – to include any type of restrictions on individual property owners, though that could come later.

“We have no intention of trying to tell people what color shutters they can have or what types of roofs,” said Nippes.

“The only things we might say – but that would be in a second ordinance – is that anyone that wanted to build an addition to a home in the district do so using the same type of architecture of the original house,” he explained.

The district would encompass West Avenue from the Assawoman Canal to Route 26, and involve areas around Central, Daisey, Woodland and Elliot avenues. Property owners will also have the ability to “opt out” of the district.

Also on Tuesday, a first reading of an ordinance to amend the ordinance establishing an emergency reserve trust fund was introduced, to allow for funding of a street repair fund. The amendment deletes a section concerning transfer tax of 12.5 percent on new construction, but that transfer tax of 12.5 percent will instead be included in the Capital Reserve Fund and the Street Repair Fund.

Mayor Gordon Wood also read a letter from Delaware Department of Transportation officials on Tuesday, concerning the entrance to the Savannah’s Landing community. After meeting with town officials, DelDoT recommended that the idea to realign the left-turn lane into the Royal Zephyr restaurant and neighboring shops off of Route 26 was a little too “outside the box.”

Wood said that this means residents will need to be patient, as their traffic woes can only be addressed with the pending Route 26 Mainline project. That project will only start after the planned Detour Routes Project is completed, and it has yet to start.

“So, what we have is what we’ve got,” said Wood. “At least until Mainline 26.”

Personnel policies discussed

The council on Tuesday also discussed a light-duty policy for both police and non-police town employees. Police Chief Ken McLaughlin said that he and Town Manager Conway Gregory had discussed enacting a formal policy to deal with employees who needed to be on light duty.

“The town has a long-standing practice of light duty but no formal policy,” explained McLaughlin. “Obviously, your choices are to do away with it or to formalize it.”

He emphasized the expense of training new employees and the value the town would get in retention of employees if they could have a policy of light duty should an injury to an employee occur.

“They are not at home collecting a paycheck,” said McLaughlin of such a light-duty assignment, in attempt to quash any thoughts that such a policy could be taken advantage of. “They are here performing productive work.”

McLaughlin’s proposed policy has a cap of 180 days maximum of light duty, which Councilman Roy Thomas said he thought was excessive. McLaughlin countered that many police departments have open-ended policies or policies that cap light duty at anywhere from six months to a year.

Thomas also expressed interest in discussing disability insurance for town employees as a whole. Gregory said that he was to meet with insurance representatives Wednesday morning. Council decided that Kathy Vengazo, a member of the Human Resources Subcommittee of the Long Range Financial Committee and a human resources worker in her “real life” as well, should work with the chief and Gregory to research and recommend an acceptable policy.

The council on Feb. 10 also discussed a proposed amendment to the Personnel Policy that would establish a “donated leave policy,” so employees would be able to donate their accrued leave time to another employee who has a catastrophic illness. The council plans to have a first reading of an ordinance establishing such a policy at their March meeting.

Town to hold another meeting on West View drainage

Council also recently decided, after meeting with Kercher Engineering, that they would meet again with residents affected by the West View drainage problems, as well as the engineer and the town manager, to try to come up with a recommendation. Kercher has presented a sand pit as the best idea to tackle the ongoing West View drainage problem.

Savannah’s Landing resident Jim Tanis told council members that the community’s own consultant, EnviroTech, said Savannah’s Landing would be the worst place to “dump any water.” Kercher has suggested that leading the excess water toward the Assawoman Canal, through Savannah’s Landing could be one element of a larger plan to solve that area’s drainage problems.

“Personally, I don’t care what the recommendation is, I just want to have one,” said Wood. “We need to do something now.”

Nippes suggested postponing a recommendation, so they could meet face to face with several parties involved. But that didn’t sit well with at least one person present at Tuesday’s meeting.

“Postpone it again?” was shouted from the audience. Wood retorted that they were trying to get it done right.

Experts to be consulted on Lampe property

Council on Tuesday also discussed what options they had concerning the town-owned former Lampe property, which has been suggested as one possible site for a future public works facility – to the opposition of many. The council ultimately decided to enlist the help of a Realtor.

The council indefinitely postponed any decisions regarding the property after citizens expressed concern over the appropriateness of such a building and that location, alongside the town’s financial worries. Options for the property as discussed on Tuesday are: razing it; keeping the land but selling the house or giving the house away to a non-profit, such as Habitat for Humanity; using it as storage; or renting it out.

At Councilman Bill Wichmann’s suggestion, the council asked if local Realtor and Ocean View resident Vicki York would serve on a committee with Wichmann and Gregory, and possibly other local realtors and/or experts, to come up with some suggestions for the town regarding the property.

The council also voted unanimously to enter into an updated memorandum of understanding with South Bethany, Sea Colony and Bethany Beach regarding the Assawoman Canal path at minimal or no cost to the town. The updated agreement adds Bahamas Beach Cottages, south of Sea Colony to the partners in the plan to develop a design for the proposed pedestrian and bicycle pathway.

In other news from the Feb. 10 meeting: Town election hours again this year will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., on April 11, instead of the traditional noon to 5 p.m. they have been in years past. Thursday, April 2, will be “Meet the Candidates Night” at town hall, from 7 to 9 p.m. The deadlines for candidates living in the town’s District 4 to file to run for the one open seat and its three-year term on the council is March 12.