South Bethany parking ordinances on table

South Bethany Town Council members continued to wrestle with planned updates to the town’s parking ordinances at their Feb. 10 meeting.

Mayor Gary Jayne said he didn’t feel the ordinance changes could be completed in time to be implemented before this year’s summer season — at least not without undesired impacts on residents and visitors — but Council Member John Fields argued that at least some of the elements could be finished in time to be enacted this year.

The main source for a rush to complete them is that the town is technically in violation of its own ordinance so long as it goes forward with plans to hand out residential parking permits prior to May. (The permits are expected in a matter of weeks and were to be handed out at that time.)

There are also changes to control how many residential parking permits a given set of property owners would be able to receive, even if they own more than one property in the town.

The ordinance changes, as currently proposed, also deal with contractor, motorcycle and mo-ped parking requirements and could attempt to control a reported problem with 18-wheelers parking on the town’s side streets.

Council members agreed that part of the concern over enacting the changes before May could be solved by staggering the dates upon which elements of the ordinance changes are effective. Those that would most greatly impact residents could be delayed in implementation until next year, while those needing urgent attention or correcting ordinance to reflect current practice could be implemented immediately upon passage.

The council agreed to set a workshop on the issue for Feb. 22 at 6 p.m., lining the issue up for possible presentations and consideration for the council in March and April before passage in May.

Also at the Feb. 10 council meeting, Council Member Bob Cestone reported that a new injunction requested by the Sierra Club in the ongoing battle over Assawoman Canal dredging would be a permanent one, if granted. He said the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) was proceeding with their plans as if the request had not been made, planning to clear the banks of trees and brush, and working to clear a site for spoils from the project.

In other town business, reporting on the town’s beautification efforts, Council Member Richard Ronan enthused, “I have never been more encouraged.”

South Bethany has hired former Bethany Beach horticulturist Chantal Bouchard to develop a landscaping plan for the town, as part of her new consulting business, and Ronan raved about the three-year plan she presented for the project.

Council Member Marge Gassinger noted to the council that the soils report for the planned town hall and police station construction had not been good, citing poorly drained soils that might prevent the building of infiltration ponds on the site. On the positive side, she reported the arrival of a $5,000 grant for the project from the Sussex County Council.

Council Member John Fields reported on the town’s overdue Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP), saying it had done well at its state review. The review cited several areas requiring changes or improvements, as well as four other recommendations — all of which Fields said he intended to implement. He said he hoped the town’s efforts to take the review committee’s advice would make a good impression for future reviews.

The town’s investigation of a tidal flushing system for the canals has proceeded to the point of considering how to keep such a system clean of barnacles. Former Council Member Lloyd Hughes — the town’s point-man on the issue — reported that the options were copper or titanium lining for the pipes or a clean-out system using a “pig” to manually scour the inside of the pipes. He said the latter was favored, noting it would add slightly to the cost but seemed the best way to go.

Also at the Feb. 10 meeting, Town Manager Mel Cusick reported that street sign replacement on the east side of Route 1 had been completed. He requested that any signs that had been missed be reported to the town, as a few had been missed in the first pass and caught later.

Paving on that side of town has been set for April 3 through May 5, with a $53,000 contract signed by the town, Cusick reported. The town’s two entrance signs have also been repaired, he said.

Cusick gave kudos to town maintenance staffers, who determined a way to fix electrical problems affecting the south end of the town, saving the town nearly $10,000 in anticipated repair costs, as well as removing the need to tear up Route 1 to make the repair. In the end, it was a $100 fix that was nearly much more expensive for the town.

Also on the positive side of the ledger, Cusick reported that the town has received a $30,000 Homeland Security grant that will cover the full cost of an emergency generator for the town hall. It has also received notification of the results of its Federal Emergency Management Agency review of floodplain violations. The report says the town is making progress in correcting the potential violations and is in line to join the National Flood Insurance Program that could result in insurance savings for its residents.

Police Chief Joe Deloach reported that one of the incidents in which the department had been involved in recent weeks was a case of Internet identity theft. He cautioned residents to use caution in their dealings on the Internet and in taking care of their confidential information. He asked anyone concerned about possible identity theft to call the department.

The council’s next meeting is a special meeting/budget workshop, set for Thursday, Feb. 23, at 4 p.m.