South Bethany enacts parking changes

After months of revisions, South Bethany’s new parking ordinance was voted into place May 12, on a 6-0 vote of the council (Councilwoman Marge Gassinger absent).

Last-minute tweaking to wording covering mopeds, motorcycles and other such vehicles — under the umbrella term “motorized conveyance” — completed the work, which sets requirements for all such vehicles to display a parking permit and allows the council to set fees by resolution.

The unanimously council did just that following the thumbs-up vote on the ordinance, keeping in place all existing parking fees, except for a single increase — raising prices on one-day passes (available to even non-residents and non-property owners) from $6 to $10.

Council members did reject concerns that the new ordinance might require permits for motorized wheelchairs parked near the beach, saying the town’s police department would not be ticketing the devices but would ticket all others not displaying a permit.

Also at the May 12 meeting, council members heard a first reading of a proposed ordinance change that will allow people cited for infractions in the town to voluntarily pay an assessment, rather than going to court. They will still be allowed their day in court, if they so choose.

In a housekeeping measure, the council also heard another first reading — this time to rescind the town’s entire section of code on a code of conduct for officials and employees. The original was enacted in December of 2002, Councilman Bob Cestone explained, only to rejected by the state ethics commission in June of 2004.

Changes were made to accommodate the commission’s desires for the code, and a volunteer ethics board was seated. But in September of 2005, the town was told the code wasn’t binding.

Citing the costs to the town to pursue a binding and working code, and the ability of the town, its citizens and employees to use the state commission for such needs, Cestone recommended the entire enterprise be scrapped.

Cestone retires, at least for now

The council also bid a fond farewell to Cestone on May 12, citing seven years of service on the council and the town’s planning commission. Mayor Gary Jayne noted that Cestone had only missed one meeting in that time and commented on Cestone’s strength, knowledge (“a walking encyclopedia”) and tendency to save every bit of documentation the town generated.

“I might come back. You never know,” Cestone said by way of leave-taking. “I’m just taking a little time off.”

Under committee and official reports:

• Jayne noted completion of sealing and stenciling on the Route 1 walking path, as well as completion of some segments of repaving on roads east of the highway.

• The town’s emergency generator has been installed, the equipment paid for with a Homeland Security grant.

• A town sweep of real estate signs posted in improper locations was deemed a success. Signs were removed by the town, under state authority, from rights-of-ways, medians and properties where permission of the owner had not been granted. (Jayne noted one location where the second property owner had given such permission.)

• Council members reiterated a limitation on signs and banners to 720 square inches maximum, or 2.5-by-2-feet, and posted no higher than 3 feet from the ground, in response to reports of a large banner hanging from a second-story balcony.

• Residents asked officials about the lack of a dog-specific noise ordinance. They noted that a disturbance of that nature would come under the town’s existing noise ordinance. SBPD Lt. Linda O’Malley emphasized that such problems were usually taken care of with a single visit to the pet owner by the police.

• After personal visits that morning, Jayne said he’d seen increasing compliance with town ordinances requiring gravel to be placed over sand lots during construction. But several reported cases continued to be disputed on the issue of compliance by town residents.

Jayne noted one exception that the town had made, where the town had asked for a delay to take care of other issues on the site.

He noted a stance of the town working with contractors to help speed projects, rather than issuing repeated stop-work orders that served only to delay projects.

• Council members clarified the requirements for citizen ideas to spur council action — no petition is required, unless a referendum is being called for. While a “gentleman’s agreement” once asked for a petition for some things, such as new street lights, citizens now only need to write to the council or ask a councilperson to sponsor any other proposed actions.