Earlier this year, a Center for the Inland Bays subcommittee recommended action to protect the environment through this year’s Sussex County Comprehensive plan update. Fenwick Island Town Council last Friday discussed endorsing those recommendations, which include asking the county to enforce regulations already in place to protect the county’s inland bays and to implement further regulations.
“We do need to be concerned about what goes on outside our borders,” said Martha Keller, member of the center’s Citizens Advisory Committee and a Fenwick Island Town Council member. “Air pollution, noise pollution, water pollution — they know no municipal boundaries. “
The town council will discuss whether or not to endorse all, or part, of the recommendation package, at their June meeting.
Recommendations included in the document presented last Friday included asking the county to develop an overlay zone to protect rare species’ habitats, to enact an ordinance to prohibit development in certain rural areas and to establish a plan to further protect wetlands and enforce ordinances already approved.
While some on council were wary about stepping outside their direct jurisdiction with a recommendation to the county council, Councilman Chris Clark — a strong proponent of environmental protection, along with Keller — supported the idea of endorsing the recommendations.
“This could help enforce the environmental portion of the comprehensive plan,” Clark said last Friday.
County consultants and officials who heard the preliminary report earlier this year said they would take all recommendations into account when drafting the new comp plan document.
County Planning and Zoning Director Lawrence Lank, who attended the meeting at the center’s office at the Indian River Inlet, said many of the ordinances prepared to support the 2003 plan, including one to define open space, have not yet been enacted. The first draft of the comprehensive plan has already been reviewed by some county officials and is expected to be available for public review soon.
Stepping outside of borders to recommend action will not be something new for Fenwick Island officials, who plan to add an “Area of Concern” into their own comprehensive plan. Officials in Fenwick hope to have some say in development in that designated area, preliminarily earmarked as the watershed of the Little Assawoman Bay.
Town applying for tree grant from state program
Fenwick Island officials plan to apply for a $5,000 grant from the Delaware Urban Forestry Tree Planting Grant to buy 50 trees to be planted on the land of “parents” who agree to take care of those trees, which will be of species indigenous to the coastal area.
Some 38 people have already signed up for the program, according to Keller. The program has been preliminarily dubbed the “Tree Triage” program and compared to the fledgling oyster gardening program around the county’s inland bays. “Gardeners” grow oysters in the bays outside their homes until they reach a size large enough to plant on reefs on other hard surfaces in the bays, in an attempt to restore the filter-feeding shellfish there.