I am one of the five persons targeted in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Complaint that was received by the Delaware Attorney General’s Office on Aug. 3, 2018. The Complaint was filed by Councilperson Carmean “…on behalf of myself, two other council members (Julie Lee and Roy Williams), as well as the residents of Fenwick Island.”
I am a resident and would certainly not be involved in filing this complaint. Based on several conversations with many townspeople, I am certain that many more residents would object to being listed as filing this complaint.
The Attorney General’s Office clearly exonerated the five individuals of any wrongdoing in the first part.
As to the second part, the history is that it has been the policy and practice for over 25 years, even before FOIA formally existed, that the Building Committee is composed of three residents of the Town who, along with the Building Official, are involved in approving permits.
For each permit application, any two of the three residents, separately, and at separate times as their individual schedules allow, review and either deny or approve the building permit. There is no quorum nor meeting.
The Attorney General’s Office recommended that “As remediation, we recommend that the Building Committee conduct a public meeting to formally vote on the building permit application in question.” The Building Committee held the recommended meeting on Sept. 4, 2018.
I am writing to correct the multiple inaccuracies in a letter to the Coastal Point, published on Sept. 7. It was also submitted by Fenwick Island Council Members Carmean, Lee and Williams.
In their Paragraph 4, they stated that “the Sands’ building plans which place mechanicals on the roof” is “jeopardizing Fenwick Island’s 30/32-foot height restrictions.” Tied into this is their Paragraph 7, in which they stated, “… the building height limit in the Town of Fenwick Island has been altered by placing mechanicals on the roof — a change that has not had an opportunity for public comment or input.”
In Paragraph 6, they stated, “…if some regulation needs to be rewritten, then it should be done in a transparent, open forum and not by a group of individuals acting without notice and comment.”
Not true. We never jeopardized, altered nor rewrote any regulation. The Building Committee enforced an ordinance existing in the Town’s Code. Additionally, all regulation that is rewritten is done so in open, public meetings, starting with a Charter & Ordinance Committee meeting, and then it is the Town Council who approves the ordinance.
The wording in the applicable sections of the Code, to which the writers refer, was recently approved (in the last 18 months or so) in four different readings by the Town Council at regularly scheduled monthly public meetings. These three councilpersons even voted in favor of the changes. Public notice existed.
The permit was approved based on a section of the ordinance that is very clear, in writing, that mechanical units are not part of the building structure. The recent ordinance changes involved new definitions of building, structure and mechanical units, which help define the height requirements.
A great deal of research and discussion among us occurred before approving the portion of the permit regarding the mechanical units, and it was documented in the formal response to the complaint.
In their Paragraph 5, they used the words “building height variance that was rubber-stamped by a small group of town officials.”
Not true. We never approve of any variance. A variance is only approved by the Board of Adjustments. No “rubberstamping” occurred.
In their Paragraph 8, they stated, “once officials have agreed to make an alteration for one applicant…”
Not true. We made no alterations. We enforced the code.
In Paragraph 9, they stated, “because of the actions of a new making the decisions…”. The residents, who serve on the Building Committee, base our permit approvals on the Town’s written code and that’s the only decision we make.
I encourage the readers to read the entire AG’s report regarding the FOIA complaint, which is posted on the Town’s website. Following the review of the research, the permit approval as to the mechanical units was accepted by the Building Official, Town Manager, Town Attorney, the members of the Building Committee and four of the members of council, in comparison to the opinions of the three submitting this letter.
I encourage anyone with questions to review our Town code or contact Town officials who will give you a factual and accurate answer.
In my response to the AG, I signed a notarized affidavit that my statements were true. In published letters such as these, facts, accuracies and the truth should be paramount. You should accept no less from your public officials.
William Weistling Jr., Chair
Fenwick Island Building Committee
Fenwick Island Charter & Ordinance Committee