South Bethany looks at FEMA regulations, Smart911

In a conversation echoing that heard in other town councils across Delaware, South Bethany is beginning to think about federal flood requirements.

“FEMA has required all communities in Delaware in the flood insurance program to update their flood plain regulations,” Councilman George Junkin reported last week, “to specifically define terms the way they want them defined and have a procedure that was followed in administering regulations.”

The Sea Level Rise & Storm Surge Committee has begun reviewing the proposals for this oceanside town. Council members this week fretted about the timeline, which includes reviewing federal requirements and state requests, proposing ordinance changes, getting government approval, holding public hearings and voting new laws — all by March of 2015.

“We can work in parallel with the State,” Councilman Jim Gross said. “We don’t have to wait” for feedback.

Councilwoman Sue Calloway asked what would happen if South Bethany disapproved of a FEMA suggestion.

“Then we are out of the National Flood Insurance Program,” Junkin said.

The town council will hold a workshop on the draft floodplain ordinances on Thursday, Oct. 23, at 2 p.m.

Also at the Oct. 10 council meeting, newly sworn-in Police Chief Troy Crowson discussed a free emergency program called Smart911. People can create a safety profile at that dispatchers can then access when a person calls 911 from an associated number.

Smart911 participants can list their phone numbers, common addresses, allergies, medical conditions, family members and their medical information, emergency contacts — even their pets names and photos — and other information that emergency personnel may need to know.

Any emergency operation center with Smart911 can view the profile when a caller’s phone number pops up.

“Washington, D.C. — all the big metropolitan areas — are getting this,” Crowson said. “Sometimes when you call 911, you can’t talk, so they won’t have to ask 50 questions. … They’ll know who you are, where you are.”

A resident said they would prefer that police have that information available to them directly in their cars, but Crowson said, “We don’t have time to read that. They’ll tell me,” he said of the 911 dispatchers. “The same for ambulance and fire — they’re not going to have time to read that.”

Anyone who does not have a computer or who would like assistance with signing up is welcome to ask the South Bethany Police Department for help in registering for Smart911. The program has already been formally adopted by both Sussex County and the Town of Bethany Beach.

• Concerned about Mediacom’s “not wonderful” cable service, resident Sandy Raymond asked if South Bethany has a “contingency plan.”

“People have options,” Junkin said. “You can go to satellite, and other cable companies are free to come into our town. The contract we have with Mediacom,” he emphasized, is not exclusive.

“But they will not come here because it’s a resort area?” Raymon asked.

“No,” Junkin agreed, suggesting satellite service instead. “We’ve talked to [Verizon] FiOS. They won’t come in near future.”

• After a citizen vented about how well or poorly certain waste and recycling trucks leave the emptied bins, Town Manager Melvin Cusick said, “The Town does have the ability to fine for recycling bins left out.”

• To compare water quality in canals with or without oysters, two continuous water quality monitors have been installed, at the south end of Carlisle Road and at York Road.

• Oceanfront property owners are now responsible for cutting grass and weeds, with the unanimous passage (with Councilman Al Rae absent) of Ordinance 173-14. Code Chapter 104 (Property Maintenance) also reinstates a three-member town hearing board to hear appeals, which had previously been inadvertently omitted.

Ordinance 175-14, which would create a three-member hearing board in Chapter 114, Solid Waste, passed on second reading.

• Ordinance 174-14, regarding housekeeping items in Chapter 42, Building Construction, also passed on second reading.

• The Charter & Code Committee is working through a priorities list, but is requesting guidance from the town council on how to address fire pits.

“There are both permanent and portable ones. They are regulated in different ways in different communities,” reported Councilmember Jim Gross.

• South Bethany has won a tree management grant of $5,000.

• Former mayor Kathy Jankowski will chair the newly reinstated Public Relations Committee.

• The Town’s expenditures are hitting the six-month mark on target, said Council Treasurer Tim Saxton. Advertising costs were higher than expected because of the police department job openings, he reported, but property taxes are almost all in, with transfer taxes coming in “extremely good,” and “Rental taxes should come in this month, so we’ll know how good we did this summer with rentals,” he said.

The next Town Council regular meeting is Friday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m.