The Fenwick Island Town Council met on Friday, Aug. 22, for their regular monthly meeting. At the meeting, council approved a second reading of Article 1-61-1, Permits Required, under Chapter 61-Building and Utility Construction, which inserted the new phrasing “the building and official and public works official shall review plans for proposed utility work for complete compliance with all town ordinances, roadway specifications, and traffic safety and control.”
Council also approved second readings of Section 112-5, Determination of Council Issuance of Permits, and Section 112-8, Violations and Penalties. Section 112-5 adds the line that all parking tags need to be hanging from the rear-view mirror, which was not specified previously. Section 112-8 was changed based on a recommendation by the Delaware attorney general, based on cases out of New Castle County, to identify parking fines as civil rather than criminal offenses.
Council also approved a second reading of Section 160-5C, (Commercial Zone) Area Regulations. It had been withdrawn at the June council meeting and a paragraph about impervious materials was subsequently added: “No part of any required building setback area in the front, rear or side of any lot in the Commercial Zone may be covered or paved with impervious or semi-pervious materials, such as concrete, asphalt, brick, flagstone etc.” Councilman William Wiestling Jr. said this allowed for commercial rules to be the same as residential ones — with no impervious surfaces allowed in the required building setback area and parking eliminated in the front lot line.
Wesitling planned to hold a second reading of Article II 61-7, Utility Construction Policy, which would have mandated all newly constructed utility lines be buried underground, but he withdrew it after stating that he and Town Manager Tony Carson had talked with a representative from Comcast who had told them Comcast is required by Miss Utility to excavate through the street to locate lines. Weistling also said that it was confirmed that Delaware state law includes boring as a part of the definition of excavation.
“If we have to dig up streets to put lines underground, I’m totally opposed to it,” said Weistling.
After discussing their options, the council decided to table the issue and let it go for about a month, until Carson hears back from Delmarva Power, deciding they can “sort through it” then.
Addressing recent discussion of possibly changing how the town measures building height, council members now plan to meet with representatives from the federal and Delaware emergency management agencies to gather more information regarding the process of possibly measuring building height from base flood elevation.
Carson said they will meet with the state coordinator for flood insurance and then council will meet, two or three at a time, to discuss the subject. Then, Carson said, the public will be able to hear the information as well.
Weistling questioned why council can’t proceed now and asked when the issue would go to the Charter and Ordinance Committee. Mayor Audrey Serio replied that it is an important thing and they want to have the opinions and expertise of FEMA and DEMA and noted that they need to be well-informed in case something is “coming along the lines.”
Carson reported that the town had recycled 27,080 pounds of material in July and that their recycling program is growing each month in participation numbers and in poundage.
Beach Patrol Capt. Tim Ferry told the council that his staff of summertime lifeguards was winding down and said that their win at national lifeguard competition in California was “icing on the cake” for an outstanding summer. He also thanked the council for their sponsorship of the annual lifeguard dinner. Lifeguards will be on guard for two weekends after Labor Day, from Atlantic to King streets.
As announced at the Aug. 22 meeting, on Sept. 26 at 2 p.m., there will be a meeting with Sussex County’s 911 addressing staff. Invitations will be mailed to all people who would be affected by the approved Street Identity program.
Also on Aug. 22, Serio read and the council approved a resolution implementing the National Incident Management System (NIMS) in the town.
With no elections for town council seats taking place this year, the council is also moving forward with a new year of committee appointments. Residents have until Sept. 15 to sign up for appointment to a committee or committees. Applications are available at town hall and online. All committees will now report to the town manager, not a council liaison, as was done in the past. Serio formally announced Aug. 22 that the Beautification Committee will cease to exist. Related projects will now be a part of Parks and Recreation.
Resident Gail Warburton at the Aug. 22 meeting presented the council with a petition signed by 311 people opposing the amendment of Ordinance 165-A, which would change the amount of parking in a common area and would allow one apartment above each commercial area. She noted that not many people knew about it and all but a few she asked were totally against it.
Finally, the Southern Sussex Rotary Club presented Serio with a check for $1,000, which will be used to purchase another beach wheelchair for the town.