The Town of Ocean View’s first Emergency Operations Plan was drafted and brought before council in June 2006, Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin noted recently. Back then, it was an “all-hazards approach” to emergencies and was well-received by the town council.
The plan is updated regularly, said McLaughlin at the Feb. 12 town council meeting, noting that, prior to his sharing it with council, the plan was reviewed by industry experts at the state and local level.
“The feedback we’ve received has been very positive,” he said.
OVPD Officer Russell Carter said there is a shift in EOC plans — going from large documents to smaller checklists.
“We started out years ago with Emergency Operations Plans being [4 inches thick] which, if you’re operating under an emergency, you don’t want to flick through a book this big to address issues.
“Now we build incident action plans based off of these basic concepts. Those are one, two-page documents we use — almost like a checklist. We’re trying to downsize now. It’s a living document. It’s constantly being changed.”
Carter said the largest part of the plan is the mitigation section, which is taken from Sussex County’s plan.
“We have to have that incorporated because what happens with our neighbors affects us as well. We have to know the hierarchy of the actions of the County, so we know where we sit and how long we have to fend for ourselves before we get some assistance from those guys.”
Carter said the document is reviewed and updated every two years, but the basic concept stays the same.
“We’ve learned a lot since 9/11,” he said.
Councilman Bill Olsen noted there was even a portion of the plan dedicated to evacuation.
Carter said the evacuation routes are also adopted from the County.
“We have to tie into all these routing directives, depending where the event is coming from,” he said. “You move one person into a direction, it affects several plans throughout the region and other states as well…
“When we say leave, please leave — because, if not, you’re going to be stuck. We’ve learned that throughout history every time we have a major event like that, folks wait until the last minute, thinking they could shoot up the highway — and it doesn’t work that way.”
McLaughlin said reimbursement is one of the big components they wanted to make sure to address in the plan.
“We wanted to make sure we exceeded all the FEMA requirements, so if there is a disaster declared in this area, whether it’s natural disaster or manmade, the Town remains eligible to receive the reimbursements at the state and federal level. What that means for us is — all of our expenses and losses, 75 percent can be recouped as long as we maintain the adequate plans and procedures the federal government requires.
“During Hurricane Sandy, a number of communities impacted that because they were not NIMS [National Incident Management System]-compliant. … There were a lot of communities that found out the hard way and had great losses.”
Councilman Tom Maly, whose background includes work at a major law-enforcement agency, commended the department, and Carter, for their work on the plan.
“This plan is just amazing to me,” he said.
In other Town news:
• The Town received a letter from Terri and Thomas Meleck regarding the proposed mini-golf course at 3 Atlantic Avenue.
While Maly did not read the letter in its entirety (as it was included in the meeting record) he noted the neighbors were concerned about traffic and the environmental impact. Maly also said the Melecks had written that they had not been notified of the application for the miniature-golf course coming before the council.
• The Town held a first reading of an ordinance to amend the Ocean View Land Use & Development Code to allow for administrative variances.
For example, if a variance request is less than 10 percent or 2 feet, then the variance could be granted by the Town’s administrative official. However, if the administrator does not feel that approval should be granted, the applicants can then take the application before the Board of Adjustment.
“Apparently, some residents of Ocean View aren’t aware this is a process that’s announced on the website and in the newspaper. … All this information is published from the meetings.”
“There will be site-plan review at a later date before the Planning & Zoning Commission,” added Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader. “In that site plan review, the applicants will be required to address many different things set out in the Land Use & Development Code, including on-site traffic, off-site traffic, lighting, flood plain… a lot of the issues in this letter.
“A notice of these hearings is also available on the Town’s website.”
• The Town will hold a budget workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 5:30 p.m. at town hall.
• The Planning & Zoning Commission will meet on Feb. 21, at 6 p.m., followed by the Board of Adjustment at 7 p.m.
By Maria Counts