Dagsboro moves forward with reorganization

It took a stutter-step or two, but Dagsboro Town Council successfully reformulated itself at the Dec. 19 council meeting, following an upset election earlier this month.

Both Council Members Jamie Kollock and Clay Hall stepped down this year. Patti Adams, Wayne Baker and Cathy Flowers ran as a quasi-party-ticket, on a platform for change, and together swept the election, bumping long-time incumbent Mayor S. Brad Connor.

More than just a few fresh faces, the trio constitutes a new majority.

The remaining incumbents, Council Members Andy Engh and Kurt Czapp, faced a couple of 3-2 defeats over the course of the meeting, leading one resident in attendance to comment, “It’s going to be a long two years.” But it wasn’t all contention.

Engh led off the meeting with a prayer for council and the town, asking for guidance. He thanked Hall and Kollock for their service – and especially Connor, who he said had devoted his life to Dagsboro’s governance.

Czapp got the reorganization going by nominating Adams for mayor, but Flowers’ nomination for Baker won out. The vote was 4-1, Engh opposed.

Engh nominated Czapp for vice-mayor, but Flowers again offered another choice – Adams. There followed some wrangling over parliamentary procedure, regarding whether or not the mayor had the ability to make or second motions. (Baker seconded Flowers’ nomination.)

Town Solicitor Tempe Steen said the mayor had done neither in the past. However, Baker said he’d interpreted “Robert’s Rules of Order” (perhaps the top authority on parliamentary procedure) differently. As he read it, the mayor enjoyed the same rights and privileges as the other council members.

He moved to institute those rights in policy, and received support from Adams and Flowers (3-2 vote). So, Adams was nominated, and then voted into the vice-mayor spot by a 4-1 vote (Engh opposed).

Flowers won appointment as secretary and treasurer on another 3-2 vote, and with the somewhat awkward reorganization behind them, Engh received unanimous support on his nomination of Town Clerk Stacey Long for assistant secretary.

Baker got right into the agenda, under the financial report noting ongoing efforts to establish a developer-funded account to cover Steen’s legal fees.

Chuck Hauser (Davis, Bowen & Friedel), the town’s engineer on the new central water project, said they’d run into delays as crews took off work for the opening of deer season but were still hoping to get the new water tower painted by the end of the year.

Ed Hallock from the Department of Public Health (DPH) and Paul Will from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) offered an update on investigations into the source of a recent contamination event (trichloroethylene).

As Hallock confirmed, traces of the offending industrial solvent were back below the maximum contaminant level (MCL), and in fact some tests had returned a “no detect.”

Will said they’d completed six borings down to 75 or 85 feet around Millsboro’s municipal wells (where the contamination entered the two-town system) and were installing test wells.

“Once we focus on where it came from, we can take care of it — so we don’t have to worry about it again,” he pointed out.

Responding to a question, Will said DNREC did believe the contaminant had entered the water supply only recently. “If it had been in the ground a long time, you would be seeing it break down into different compounds,” he said.

Hauser introduced George Davis from Artesian Water — Artesian handles operations and maintenance and billing for Dagsboro’s water system.

Davis said the company had zeroed out everyone’s water meters on Dec. 16, at no charge. Council moved to restart the billing cycle as of that night (Dec. 19).

Also on the financial end, Hauser said he wanted to set up a meeting between the new council members and representatives from the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This would give state officials a chance to go over with the new players on the council the existing arrangements regarding debt service on the water system.

Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission Chair Marjorie Eckerd and Main Street resident William Chandler reported progress at the P&Z. Eckerd said they’d set the town’s draft signage ordinance at the top of their list of priorities.

Chandler said they’d agreed to hold meetings the first Wednesday of every month, at 7 p.m., at the Bethel Center. He advised council that they’d be glad to add Eric Ankrom’s request for subdivision to the upcoming Jan. 4 agenda alongside the signage.

Chandler also said the P&Z had unanimously adopted a recommendation that town council consider a six-month moratorium on “annexations, rezonings and major subdivisions.” He’d first recommended this moratorium to Connor back in May (2005), after working to negotiate a memorandum of understanding between the town and Sussex County (specifically, county engineering).

His primary concern at that time was sewer capacity.

However, with Sussex County’s recent moratorium on new cluster developments, Chandler suggested it might be appropriate for the town to revisit its own cluster overlay, which was modeled after the county’s.

Baker asked Steen to prepare the moratorium for introduction at the Jan. 23 council meeting.