Fenwick targets voting code

The Fenwick Island Town Council met on Friday, Dec. 5, for their regular monthly meeting. At the meeting, Councilman William Weistling Jr. re-introduced a first reading of Section 13-31, Registration by mail. The recently introduced ordinance had omitted a deadline for voter registration prior to a special election, instead only detailing the deadline for the town’s general elections. The newly re-introduced ordinance corrects that omission and details the exact deadlines for receipt of voter registration documents for the town’s annual election.

They must be “received by the registrar by 4:30 p.m. on July 8 for the annual election or the next business day if July 8 falls on a Sat., Sun., or holiday. Registration for a special election shall cease at 4:30 p.m. on the business day preceding such election.”

The ordinance was first introduced in September. At the October council meeting, the last sentence concerning “deadline for a special election” was not included in the council packet for the second reading, and the council approved a second and final reading without the sentence referring to special election deadlines.

According to Weistling, once approved, it was too late to amend the ordinance by putting the sentence back, even at the October meeting.

“The error was pointed out during public participation, after the motion had passed,” he explained. “I decided to start the process over [with a] first reading. Law requires a new first reading when any change introduced increases the impact the ordinance may have on the public. To be safe, I decided to just start over.”

Council bids farewell to town manager

Mayor Audrey Serio noted last Friday that the town is a week into its search for a new town manager, after receiving the news that Town Manager Tony Carson would be leaving for a post in nearby Berlin, Md. Carson started work as the town’s first-ever town manager in March of 2007, after an extensive search.

“We hate to see you go,” she said to Carson. “You have been an asset to me.”

Carson said he had thoroughly enjoyed his time in Fenwick and appreciated that the council had always been so willing to work with him.

Also on Dec. 5:

• Chief William Boyden of the Fenwick Island Police Department reported that they have their new police cruiser and it had been in service for about a week. The $40,000 fully equipped vehicle cost the town only about $10,000 from town coffers. The rest was paid for by state and county grants.

• In the public participation part of the meeting, resident Buzz Henefin asked if residents who would be affected by street-name changes would have a chance to give their opinions on the new names. Carson said small meetings with the affected residents will be held closer to spring.

• Councilwoman Vicki Carmean read a statement from resident Gail Warburton, who could not attend the meeting last Friday, asking the council to vote against any increase or approval of apartments or mixed-use buildings, citing 311 additional signatures to a petition.

• Serio reported that she had met with the mayors of the area’s other coastal towns and U.S. Sen. Tom Carper about flood-plain issues, flood insurance and runoff from Route 1 into the inland bays. She also noted that Fenwick had hosted the Sussex County Associations of Towns’ Christmas dinner, which 84 people attended, and a luncheon for the new Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company ambulance division, at which new EMTs were sworn in. She said the meetings were very fruitful and said that, because of all the recent meetings and negotiations regarding the ambulance service, the towns and their governments have a very good close working relationship. She also reported the news of three residents’ deaths: Mary Whiley, Everett Clark and Diane Brauns.

• Fenwick Island Town Hall will be closed for Christmas on Thursday, Dec. 25 and Friday, Dec. 26, and on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009, for the New Year’s holiday.

• The Fenwick Freeze is set for Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009, at 10:30 a.m. at Bayard Street on the beach. Participants can sign up at town hall on Dec. 30 and 31, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

• The next regular town council meeting will be held Friday, Jan. 23, 2009, at 3:30 p.m.