South Bethany News
Town of South Bethany, Delaware
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South Bethany Town Hall may never have seemed so small when 100 people tried to fit inside for a public meeting about the future of local flood mapping. Most of them wanted to know exactly why their flood-risk designation changed, and what they can do about it.
The South Bethany Town Council has a plan to get more public involvement. They voted, 6-1, on May 30 to request that Delaware General Assembly amend the South Bethany town charter to permit chairs of town committees to be individuals who are not council members.
But one morning of discussion about the issue was not enough for Councilman George Junkin, who gave the only vote against requesting the change.
“I have a problem with 10 minutes of discussion going to the state legislature,” he said, looking at the May 30 agenda, which allotted that amount of time to the issue.
“We haven’t discussed this and the ramifications,” said Junkin, adding that he wished the Charter & Code Committee had reviewed the proposal beforehand.
In a South Bethany election with a broad slate of candidates, three new council members have been elected: Carol Stevenson (200 votes), Wayne Schrader (192) and Frank Weisgerber (173). They are filling three seats for which the incumbents did not seek reelection.
Three seats on the South Bethany Town Council will be up for election on May 23. Voters have their pick of six candidates: Elizabeth Baker, Don Boteler, Joel Danshes, Wayne Schrader, Carol Stevenson and Frank Weisgerber. None of the incumbents ran for re-election this year.
Each council term is two years.
Plenty has happened around the community over the off-season. In case you’ve been out of town, or have just been too busy to stay on top of things, here are some of the items that could most affect your summer season.
The Gardeners by the Sea club will hold its third annual hydrangea sale this Mother’s Day weekend. The sale will be held on Saturday, May 9, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in front of McCabe’s Gourmet Market in the York Beach Mall in South Bethany. If the club does not sell out of plants on Saturday, they will be selling the remainder on Sunday, May 10, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
At this year’s sale, “toddler” and “teen” hydrangeas will be sold to the public — offering a gift-shopping opportunity for plant-loving mothers.
“We have different sizes this year. They start at $8, and the larger ones will be a little bit more, but not to exceed $16,” said Lisa Arni, who created the sale three years ago. “We have the chemicals to make the hydrangeas ‘pink for girls’ and ‘blue for boys,’ and we’re going to wrap them in pink or blue, and will give out an adoption paper.”
New this year to the sale will be the attendance of a Master Gardener, who will answer any questions those attending may have.
“We’re going to have a Master Gardner at the sale to answer any questions about the hydrangeas or any other gardening questions, which we haven’t had in the past. They can really ask anything when they come,” said Arni, who is a Master Gardener herself.
Delaware has nearly 300 Master Gardeners — who collectively volunteer more than 20,000 hours per year to the Delaware Cooperative Extension’s home horticulture program.
In South Bethany, a green thumb also means blue waters. Volunteers donned gardening gloves on Earth Day to landscape along the Anchorage Canal. Located next to Route 1, the canal’s forebay needed some love. The South Bethany Community Enhancement Committee and other townspeople “adopted” the canal end on April 22, planting everything from holly to petunias and native grasses.
Councilwoman Sue Callaway paused from scooping buckets of mulch to talk about the projects.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said, expressing her gratitude to all the volunteers working nearby. She emphasized the importance of “just being involved in your community.”
For three years now, the CEC has tackled a different site each Earth Day. It also sponsors the Town’s Adopt-A-Canal program, in which volunteers maintain landscaping on canal ends in their own neighborhoods.
The South Bethany Town Council has been looking under people’s houses lately. But homeowner’s should get upset over privacy concerns — the council is researching a new ordinance, which would affect lattice and boards around the open space under houses.
The April 10 council meeting revolved around houses’ floor-area ratio (FAR).
The South Bethany Town Council will see some new faces after the May 23 election. Six residents are currently competing for three seats, but councilmembers Tony Caputo, Jim Gross and Al Rae did not file for reelection. The positions carry a two-year term.
Pending their eligibility reviews on April 17, candidates include Elizabeth Baker, Don Boteler, Joel Danshes, Wayne Schrader, Carol Stevenson and Frank Weisgerber. (William Bombright withdrew shortly after filing.)
Absentee ballots are available for any resident unable to vote at Town Hall on May 23. To request an absentee ballot, residents should contact Town Hall for an affidavit. After that is returned, a ballot will be mailed. They can also visit Town Hall in person to complete both forms during regular operating hours. Absentee ballots must be filed with the Town no later than 3 p.m. on election day.
Mid-Atlantic survey first step in oil/gas drilling
Two Texas companies have requested permission to perform surveys off the Delaware coast for potential oil and gas reserves. GX Technology Corporation and Spectrum Geo Inc. applied for permits to do deep-penetration seismic surveys on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf.
Just weeks before new flood maps were to be enacted in South Bethany, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has agreed to wind back the clock. FEMA has rescinded the “final determination” that previously raised the base flood elevation (BFE) for oceanfront homes in the town, at the Town’s urging and under pressure from Delaware’s Congressional delegation.
BFE is the elevation to which floodwaters are expected to rise during a 100-year flood. For years, Ocean Drive had a BFE of 12 feet. Houses had to be built starting no lower than that elevation or pay high flood-insurance premiums.
FEMA considered lowering several South Bethany zones (most notably Ocean Drive to VE-10) during a large-scale rewrite of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) in August of 2013. However, a councilmember’s “inquiry” about the lightened restrictions caused FEMA to actually up the BFE, to 13 feet instead of 10.
South Bethany may have a budget shortfall of about $1,500 in its proposed 2016-fiscal-year budget, “but we know where to find it,” said Town Council Treasurer Tim Saxton.
On Feb. 26, he presented to the council a “fully loaded” draft budget, which included savings, new expenses and a 4.1 percent pay increase for employees.
The love of your life has just kneeled on one knee and asked for your hand in marriage… But now what?
Many dream of having a beach wedding, where the vastness of the sea mirrors their love for one and other, but the logistics of planning can be difficult.
Enter Delaware Seaside Bride. With a website — DelawareSeasideBride.com — and yearly print magazine that will launch March 6, 2015, Delaware Seaside Bride will be your guide to planning your dream day, surrounded by the beauty of the Delaware beaches.
Town council elections are approaching in South Bethany, so candidate and voter registration has begun. Three positions are up for voting in the 2015 election, scheduled for May 23. Terms are for two years. Those council seats are currently held by Tony Caputo, Jim Gross and Al Rae.
South Bethany has tugged at its Congressional connections in an effort to induce FEMA to reconsider the proposed Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) — or rather, to disregard South Bethany’s previous communication on the matter.
The Harris Teeter grocery store company announced on Tuesday that it would be closing its Salt Pond location near Bethany Beach in two weeks. The store is the area’s newest Harris Teeter store, open at Salt Pond Plaza since March 31, 2010, on the heels of its first local store opening in West Fenwick.
By adding a new police officer position, South Bethany could get the true 24-hour police coverage many believe they already have. Residents broke into applause Monday afternoon after the town council narrowly voted to create a new full-time police position.
South Bethany is expecting an additional $100,000 in revenue above its current budget, thanks to an increase in transfer taxes. That will more than cover some unexpected expenses in the 2015-fiscal-year budget, for the period ending April 30, 2015.
South Bethany has already surpassed its original transfer tax estimate of $250,000.
One of the most fearful moments of Kathy Jankowski’s life was discovering that someone had broken into her home.
In a letter to the South Bethany Town Council, the former mayor described how quickly Cpl. Mark Burton had responded to her house, done his job and calmed her down. She called him a “knight in shining armor [who] made me feel safe enough to stay in my house that night.”
Between overwhelming evidence and Burton’s diligence, officials said, the South Bethany Police Department solved the burglary case and recovered the stolen items. In honor of the job well done, Burton received a Certificate of Commendation at the December town council meeting.
Burton had visited four pawnshops, searching the inventory data for hours, “and I do mean hours,” said Police Chief Troy Crowson. That’s before the Internet searches began, including on eBay and Craigslist.
They found the stolen goods and identified the sellers, and a suspect was apprehended less than 24 hours after the warrant was issued. He’d been to the house legally before, with someone who had been contracted to do work. He was not a contractor himself, officials said. His arrest also led police to two more accomplices.
Ed Bintz was excited to save money on flood insurance when FEMA planned to lower the base-flood elevation (BFE) of his South Bethany house from 12 to 10 feet. But that was short-lived, after a letter from a member of the town council prompted FEMA officials to reevaluate the land — and raise the BFE to 13 feet.
The will of the people has been heard. The South Bethany Town Council voted unanimously Nov. 20 to remove, at this time, the proposed mandatory 2 feet of freeboard from its draft floodplain ordinance.
The South Bethany Town Council will be continuing its discussion of requiring 2 feet of mandatory freeboard following a change in some council members’ minds after their Oct. 23 workshop.
Barely three months after South Bethany gave people the option to build taller homes with flood-resistant freeboard, Town Council is considering mandatory freeboard.
Not all councilmembers are happy about it.
In a conversation echoing that heard in other town councils across Delaware, South Bethany is beginning to think about federal flood requirements.
The Underground Railroad was an integral part of the Civil War, and next Tuesday, Clara Small will discuss its legends and facts at an event hosted by the South Bethany Historical Society. The talk will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 21, from 7 to 9 p.m. at South Bethany Town Hall.