Editor:

After raising property taxes in FY22 instead of reducing expenses, the Town is now recommending amending Ocean View Code, Chapter 169, Property Maintenance, Article 1, which will place a financial responsibility on residents to maintain easements free and clear from trees, plants, shrubs, grasses, weeds or other vegetation to grow in stormwater management and drainage systems...

Go to oceanviewde.gov/pendingordinances to see the full details of change ordinance 169, Property Maintenance, Article 1.

This financial responsibility should be on the Town (i.e., Capital, and Operating budgets) and, where appropriate, Sussex County, not the residents. The financial burden to residents could have a substantial impact, if approved.

In preparation for the upcoming public readings on Oct. 12 and Nov. 9 (via YouTube), I submitted a letter of inquiry and opposition (included below) to the Town Council, Mayor and Staff. Sadly, I did not receive a response from anyone. On Oct. 7, I did receive a response from Dennis Schrader, Esquire who indicated that my email was forwarded to him. He also indicated that during the public reading on Oct. 12, he would attempt to address my concerns.

It is very disappointing to see the lack of transparency and responsiveness to the residents of Ocean View especially given the potential impact.

Since my letter to editor is going to be published after the first reading on Oct. 12, I encourage all interested residents to join the second reading on Nov. 9 (via YouTube). There are a lot of open questions to be answered and I would hope the Town would not approve any changes until the scope and financial impact is clear to all residents.

Maybe it is time for the residents of Ocean View to take similar action as the residents of Fenwick Island and vote for new Leadership who will put the residents first.

<Editor’s Note: The following is the letter mentioned in the introduction by the writer above.>

October 5, 2021

TO: Town of Ocean View County Council, Mayor, Town Manager and Planning & Zoning CC: Susan Canfora

I am writing in response to the “Pending Ordinance to Amend the Ocean View Code, Chapter 169, Property Maintenance, Article 1” that is posted on the Town website.

I have several follow-up questions regarding the proposed change:

Regarding the proposed inclusion of “... No person... shall permit trees, shrubs, grasses, vegetation to grow upon the Town’s easements or right of way that may be dangerous to stormwater management and drainage systems...”

1. Does this change apply to bioswale channels and concrete drainage swales?

• In speaking with Sussex Conservation District (SCD), any revision to easements that serve as a source of water conveyance require approval from the SCD. Revisions include any alteration, including removal of vegetation, grasses, weeds, etc.

• Has SCD provided their approval for this change?

• How do residents maintain such easements if they do not have the authority to make any changes?

2. Is it not the Town’s responsibility to maintain drainage systems that support storm water run-off?

3. In some cases, the Town has already accepted responsibility of streets and easements in less-than-ideal circumstances (e.g., pre-existing conditions with easements and storm water features). If the Town accepted the conditions “As-Is” why is this burden being passed to Homeowners now?

4. What process is to be followed in communities with Homeowner Associations (HOAs)? Is the revision to this ordinance meant to supersede the responsibility of the HOAs?

5. In some cases, drainage easements within the Town flow into easements that are not located within the Town. Clearing vegetation from the Town’s easements will not solve drainage issues unless there is cross-jurisdiction cooperation to ensure all sources of water conveyance are following the same set of guidelines. Does the Town have cross-jurisdiction support from the County to enact this change?

6. A fee schedule is mentioned in “Chapter 3”. Please provide a link to the fee schedule. It is not easy to find on the website.

I want to ensure there is full transparency and understanding of the cost impact that this proposed change will have on residents of the Town of Ocean View. It appears there is unfair hardship being imposed on residents based on prior decisions made by Town Officials to accept less than ideal circumstances from Developers.

Please reply prior to the upcoming public meeting on October 12, 2021 so that I can be fully prepared to present my opposition at the meeting.

Thank you.

Elaine Cziraky

Ocean View