The Fenwick Island Town Council at its Friday, July 24, meeting voted to reactivate a moratorium on new hotels and motels for two more years. The council also voted to grant a building permit extension to a hotel currently under construction.
The council first enacted the moratorium in 2016, and in 2018 it was extended; that extension expired in February 2020. The hotel currently being constructed in Fenwick Island, now known as Fenwick Shores, was exempt from the moratorium because it was being built on the site of the former Sands Motel, which was demolished in December 2018.
Several homeowners this week expressed their support for the continuation of the moratorium. “The [Fenwick Shores] hotel has raised a number of issues that are of great concern to people in town,” said Amy Kyle.
Some of the issues Kyle mentioned were “what I view as a rather absurd reinterpretation of the height limit,” as well as issues involving music and dining options, such as a pool bar, and “problematic statements about that by town staff.”
Another homeowner, Gail Warburton, said she supported a continuation of the moratorium “until there’s more research into some of the problems.” She mentioned contractors taking up on-street parking as one of the issues she would like the Town to address.
Kyle said that, in addition to the moratorium, she also supports a “more organized response” from the Town to the issues that have arisen since construction of the new hotel began.
To that end, the council agreed that the Charter & Ordinance Committee should conduct a review of matters related to hotel construction.
The council also heard from the owner of the new hotel, Spiro Buas, about problems he has had getting the hotel construction completed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Buas’ filed for a building permit extension in April. At the July council meeting, he said, “We hoped to be done by now and not have to request this extension.
“We really ran into some issues with supply chain … with everything that was happening across the country,” Buas said. He cited some of them, including a carpet mill being closed for two months and similar issues with a cabinet supplier that closed, reopened and then had to close again due to the health crisis.
“I respectfully ask that you consider these delays,” he said.
Council Member Bill Weistling Jr. said, “He’s got a solid point. Everybody’s been affected by this one way or another.”
The council also agreed not to charge Buas for the permit extension.
The hotel was originally slated to open before the start of the 2020 summer season. Its website currently shows reservations being taken for this fall.
Town Manager Terry Tieman told the council that the Town has only ever issued building permit extensions to two other projects, both of which were residential.