S. Bethany talks streetlight requests and new three-way stop

Date Published: 
November 4, 2016

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and the dark streets get the light.

After the 2015 South Bethany Community Survey revealed that more people want streetlights, the Town Council has begun researching locations.

Canal Drive had the most requests for service, so that’s being addressed first. Lights will be installed based on public response.

“It’s up to the community to decide what they want,” said Councilmember Sue Callaway.

The Town is sending surveys to households on and around Canal Drive to determine their support, due in mid-November.

“It’s heavily used, lots of walkers, lots of bikers, … and it’s very dark,” Callaway said.

A total of nine new lamps (including two replacements) are proposed on Canal Drive, at each cross street.

Bulbs would be the lowest possible wattage, and small shields would block light from reflecting back into nearby homes.

The Community Enhancement Committee has been working on this issue for several years. But lighting tends to be controversial. Some people don’t want light pollution streaming in their windows at night. Other people, including the police department, prefer well-lit streets to read street signs and walk or bicycle at night.

Any property owner can request streetlights. The Town will send a letter to nearby properties, and make a decision based on public feedback.

That’s how it worked for residents on West 9th Street. This spring, resident Mike Matera followed petitioned Town Council a street lamp on his road. His neighbors responded favorably to the subsequent survey, and the lamp was installed.

In the western Cat Hill neighborhood, a number of lights were replaced in 2015. The same style of lamppost would be used elsewhere in town.

At about $16 per light, per month, the increased electric costs are about $200 per light, annually, Callaway said. Delmarva Power pays for light itself, and the Town pays electric. Any installation costs may vary, depending whether the lights need electric power sources.

Cat Hill’s three-way stop discussed

Town Council voted to approve a three-way controlled intersection at Canal Drive and Tamarack Drive. Some residents have been fighting for this as a method to slow down traffic in the Cat Hill neighborhood.

Even in the busy season of July, the traffic studies showed that the intersection did not warrant more stop signs.

“It’s a very cut-and-dry study. If it does not meet the warrant ... then there’s no recommendation for a stop sign, for a controlled intersection,” said Traffic Committee Chairperson John Janowski. “However, since then, DelDOT has reconsidered their position.”

DelDOT now endorses two additional stop signs at the current T-intersection. It’s “part a trial program they’ve set up recently, where they’re going out to half a dozen intersections, mostly within subdivisions,” Janowski said. South Bethany may be the only public road that is participating.

This will be monitored for one year, said Mayor Pat Voveris. If there are no issues, then South Bethany will have met its warrant for a three-way stop. DelDOT and the Town will listen for public feed back and consider traffic accidents there.

Earlier this autumn, Voveris announced that state legislators Ron Gray and Gerald Hocker agreed to help fund the project from their road improvement funds. However, South Bethany was first aiming to bring the price down from the original $30,000 proposal.

Other recent projects included improving and increasing the number of speed humps; installing electric speed notification signs; and adjusting hours of the barricade that prevents Kent Avenue traffic from entering Black Gum Drive in summer.

Although Town council approved it for 2016, Charter and Code Committee will draft an official ordinance to make the barricade even more official.

By the way, the Town has the authority to enact a barricade, Voveris said. The Town Charter allows that “Council can create an ordinance to control traffic,” said Committee Member George Junkin.

Council also discussed the possibility of installing a larger or more prominent barricade sign.

Committee membership was changed to just include three property owners: John Janowski, Mike Trentadue and Dave Wilson (a fresh set of eyes from the Planning Commission). Town Manager Cusick will participate as a non-voting member.

The change came because it’s difficult to wrangle a quorum when the committee was larger. Meetings will still be open to the public.

In other South Bethany news:

• South Bethany Police Department has a new employees, Cpl. John “Brooks” Jenney. A seasoned officer, he brings years of experience, especially in drug and DUI enforcement. Jenney said law enforcement runs in his family.

• Having missed four council meetings, Don Boteler’s position was briefly up for discussion, but his fellow councilmembers voted quickly and unanimously to take no action.

“‘When a member has accumulated a total of four absences from regular town council meetings or workshops in the past 12 months, the council shall meet with that member and determine what actions, such as requesting resignation from council, to pursue,’” Callaway read. “So we do have a councilmember who has four absences … We knew ahead of time there would be three absences when he came on council, and very unfortunately, he had to assist [with a family situation].”

• Around 70 percent of the public supported a smoking ban on the beach, according to the 2015 Community Survey. The Charter and Code Committee will draft an ordinance to create a smoking ban on the beach and walkways.

• The annual financial audit earned another positive review of Fiscal Year 2016.

“I did think that the town came out very well financially this year,” said Tom Sombar of Sombar & Company, congratulating the Town Council and staff for “keeping control of costs and making good decisions.”

• Mediacom gets a lot of flack for cable and internet service, so Councilmember Wayne Schrader will set up a meeting to pass those complaints forward and request better service.

• Town Council approved employment contract amendments for the town manager and police chief. Although it was a housekeeping item to clarify the contract length, some council members were concerned about the automatic contract renewal. But Voveris said she and the Town solicitor thought it cleaner to just do amendment, rather than change terms of the contracts. Voveris said she’ll be mayor when the renewals come up, so she’ll do the due diligence of renegotiating the contracts then.

• Feral cats are a problem, Schrader said. Although beloved by some citizens, wild cats have been known to break into, and wreck, uninhabited homes during winter, plus bother people dining outside. Schrader will brainstorm any actions, if any, Town Council could legally take to reduce the problem, like finding homes or discouraging the public from feeding feral animals.

• Linda Lewis was appointed to the Planning Commission.

Town Council’s next regular meeting is Friday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m.