At their council meeting on Friday, June 13, the South Bethany Town Council passed a resolution (Resolution 1-08) establishing the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company Ambulance Service fee for South Bethany property owners.
The resolution states that the fee will be assessed on each home, as well as to the owners of vacant lots in the town.
“We are well within our right to assess the tax from vacant lot owners,” said Mayor Gary Jayne. “Our attorney said we have the discretion to assess fees or not, and the original version had it so the ‘Big Four’ would assess every property in town, and it was decided the towns have discretion. So, every house should pay, and at least one lot per owner. So, if you own one lot, there’s one fee; and if you own several lots, there’s still only one fee. Every property owner pays once, regardless of whether it’s a house or a lot.”
The council also heard a first reading of Ordinance 142-08, Chapter 42, Building Construction, to control the use of portable fuel and powered electric generators and fuel-powered air compressors for construction purposes.
“This arose about three or four months ago,” said Jayne. “And it was aimed at reducing the amount of time a generator can be used at a construction site, because of complaints about the noise.”
The amended version of the ordinance would add, under the section head “use of portable construction equipment,” the wording “including fuel-powered electric generators and fuel-powered air compressors.” The amended code would add, “Fuel-powered generators and fuel-powered air compressors are prohibited within the corporate limits of the Town of South Bethany for construction purposes. Exceptions to this prohibition may be approved by the Town for a limited period of time after.”
Ralph Romeo, a property owner, asked if the council could consider not giving so much leeway and asked that “only in the event of an emergency that would affect the electric company” or something similar be added. The council agreed to look into the wording recommendation before a second reading.
Also on June 13, property owner Jim Rose expressed concern over the new shed on the beach at 3rd Street, saying it obstructs his view and also is too big for its specified use: storage, and refuge for the beach patrol during storms.
“Why not have something smaller?” he asked. The council responded by that they would take into consideration comments about the shed but could not do anything regarding it until at least next year.
Property owner Nancy Marr again raised the issue of the town’s newly instituted ban on beach vendors. The council noted that there was a questionnaire available for people to fill out regarding their opinion on vendors but stated that, for 2008, their decision remained final.
“It’s a closed subject,” said Jayne. “You can make your desires known on the questionnaire.”
The council did say that one thing change they could make to the beach in the 2008 season was to fill in the valley behind the dune at N. 4th Street a little bit, in response to concerns about the steepness.
“We are going to put a lot of sand to smooth it out, as an experiment, and we’ll see how it works to minimize sand on the west side of the dune. And then, maybe next year, we can build a structure, a mini-version of the handicap walkway, to go from the slope of Ocean Drive to the top of the dune,” explained Jayne.
In other news from the council meeting:
• Town Manager Melvin Cusick reported that 658 households were signed up for the town’s new curbside recycling program – “more than we ever anticipated.”
• Public Information Officer Eric Watkins of the South Bethany Police Department reported that they were having a much quieter “Junebug” season compared to last year and expressed hopes for the last two weeks in June to hold similar quiet news.
“We learned our lesson from last year,” he said. “We put our own officers on overtime and hired off-duty officers from Fenwick Island, so we have more police presence than ever. And, in the first two weeks, it has paid off. We have another two weeks. We’ll see how it goes.”
• Regarding the Assawoman Canal dredging, Councilwoman Marge Gassinger reported that DNREC has one more mile to complete and, if possible, they will re-start the work in August and go through February to complete the job. She noted that the DNREC representative remarked to her that he had been working on it since 1983 and would be very happy to see it completed. He also expressed sadness that former Mayor Sal Aiello was not alive to see its completion.
• Councilman Jay Headman reported that the town is still working on getting DNREC on board with the town’s proposed tidal pump program. But he said that DNREC is concerned that the costs outweigh the benefits now. Headman said they would continue to work with them to get it done.
• Headman also reported that the town had received matching funds through DelDOT to look at stormwater pollution from the 65 acres north of South Bethany where stormwater goes right into the canal at Anchorage Street. He asked people interested in volunteering to study one of seven sites to contact him or Jack Whitney. He added that no science background was needed, just an interest in canal water quality.
The next town council regular meeting will be July 11, at 7 p.m.