Billboard request to be heard again

Many residents of Fenwick Island and its nearby communities have been awaiting — and dreading — the day when Anthony Crivella might again request the Sussex County Board of Adjustments grant him a special exception for a billboard on his property north of Route 54, west of Dukes Avenue and adjacent to the Little Assawoman Bay.

The community came together in opposition to Crivella’s September 2005 request for the billboard and height exception, largely on environmental grounds but also due to the potential impact on the views of neighboring residents. They garnered 205 signatures of opposition on a petition and got letters from the representatives of several area homeowners’ associations — representing 400 additional likely opponents.

The Sussex County Board of Adjustments is set to meet on Monday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m., in County Council Chambers off The Circle in Georgetown. And among the items on the agenda for the meeting is Case No. 9751, where in Crivella is again requesting a special-use exception on the property for a billboard and a variance from the maximum height requirement.

His request for an exception to permit the billboard to be erected — and at as much as 10 feet higher than the standard maximum for a billboard in the county — was denied in September of 2005 when neither Crivella nor his representative appeared before the board to present his case.

That hearing was attended by approximately 35 opponents bearing the petition and letters of opposition. Crivella signed in for the hearing but left before the case was heard, forcing a denial by default.

Despite the successful outcome for the opponents at that time, once outside the council chambers, then-Fenwick Island Town Council Member Vicki Carmean and current Council Member Martha Keller conferred with their compatriots and an attorney present for another case. They were concerned that Crivella might renew his request at a future date, hoping it would escape notice and garner less opposition at a future hearing.

With the record of the current hearing closed without the letters of opposition, petition and in-person comments presented and entered, they feared they’d have to start over were the billboard applied for again.

They were planning to retain those hard-earned bits of paper, just in case. And they promised they would be keeping their eyes peeled for any announcements related to the issue, the better to organize their opposition once again, should the need arise.

The application is now on the agenda for the Feb. 5 meeting of the board.