South Bethany Town Council took a first step toward expedited fee adjustments at the Feb. 11 town meeting.
Council Member Bob Cestone introduced for first reading an ordinance that would remove the fees from the building construction section of town code (permits, requests for approval of conditional use, requests for variance, etc.).
They would be moved into a schedule of fees. Council could then change the fees by resolution, rather than by the lengthier ordinance process.
The ordinance would also have South Bethany follow along with Sussex County regarding minimum standards for materials and constructions, as set forth in the recently adopted International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC).
Certain sections of town code will still apply, as will Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) guidelines.
Later in the meeting, Council Member John Fields followed up with his own request to remove fees from the parking section of code.
Fields reported a net loss in parking permit revenues for fiscal 2005. “Parking permit fees haven’t been increased in the last 20 years, and last year, the town lost $1,900,” he pointed out.
There won’t be time to raise prices this year, since the town typically completes parking permit transactions less than three months from now, but there may be increases next summer.
Council held a second reading on another ordinance, which will regulate boatlifts and clarify the appeals process associated with annual inspections.
Restrictions on max distance boatlifts extend into the canals would remain the same (20 percent of the canal width, or 13 feet max), but the ordinance would discourage boatlifts near canal intersections (no closer than 25 feet).
Also new with the ordinance, boatlift/dock combos will be permitted.
Regarding the appeals, the old wording suggested residents could appeal a notice of violation of code. Cestone changed that to address only the subjective decision that bulkheads, docks, etc. needed repair.
On that subject, Tom Roche of Henlopen Drive said that after the canals had frozen and heaved the docks, there’d been some lumber floating around.
He asked about docks that were falling down — was there some capability in the code to ensure repairs, or failing that, institute a fine that would recompense the town for tear down and removal.
In addition, Roche said many of the construction crews around town weren’t putting up silt fences, which the code requires. “This wasn’t happening last year, either, and we complained,” he said.
Board of Adjustment Member Vince Durkin added boatlifts built in conflict with town code (which precipitated the aforementioned ordinance) and areas around town where contractors had left building materials piled in yards to Roche’s list.
“We’re understaffed,” Durkin said, suggesting one code enforcement officer and one town manager might be too few to keep things square.
Mayor Gary Jayne asked Durkin where he’d seen the trash. “This happens all the time and we just have to get Mel (Cusick, town manager) and Joe (Vogel, code enforcement constable) out there to make them clean it up,” he said.
In other business, council discussed various street-related and dredging issues.
• A survey sent out to residents affected limited hours of access at Kent Avenue, speed bumps, etc., came back 2-to-1 in favor of the traffic controls — much greater support than when the measures were originally instituted.
• The town has been working on a reconfiguration of the York Beach Mall parking lot at that location, where traffic has a tendency to park facing McCabe’s Gourmet Market and then back into the road. Temporary stanchions have been in place for a while, as a test, and the town now plans to replace them with concrete curbs and landscaping.
• Town manager Mel Cusick said Jerry’s Paving had been awarded the contract for repaving east of Route 1, scheduled to take place between April 1 and May 1. Cusick said the amount of asphalt specified in the contract should cover North Sixth Street down to South Fourth.
• Jayne said the retained engineering firm on the town canal dredging project (Duffield and Associates) had cleared the southern spoils site with DNREC. The town will now submit the application for a dredging permit.
• Cestone reminded everyone of the upcoming Environmental Appeals Board hearing on the Assawoman Canal dredging permit, scheduled for Feb. 22, 9 a.m., DNREC auditorium in Dover. DNREC and the Sierra Club will once again square off over the environmental impacts and costs versus benefits for that project.