Fenwick Island News

Town of Fenwick Island, Delaware


  • 379 (2010 Census)

Town council meetings:

  • Fourth Friday of the month, 3:30 p.m., town hall meeting room


  • First Saturday in August, alternating slate of four and three seats, two-year terms; mayor/council president chosen from among the council, with a one-year term

Town office:

  • 800 Coastal Highway, Fenwick Island, DE 19944; (302) 539-3011, fax (302) 539-1305

Web site

General e-mail inquiries

Town Council 2013-2014:

  • Gene Langan, Mayor
  • Richard Mais, Vice-Mayor
  • Diane Tingle, Secretary
  • Gardner Bunting, Treasurer
  • William Weistling
  • Roy Williams
  • Julie Lee

Town Manager:

  • Merritt Burke

Town Clerk:

  • Agnes DiPietrantonio

Finance Assistant:

  • Josie Correnti

Building Official:

  • Patricia Schuchman

Standing committees:

  • Beautification/ Parks & Recreation, Beach, Environmental, Planning, Board of Adjustments, Board of Elections, Audit, Budget, Building, Charter and Ordinance, Commercial Action, Emergency Management


  • William Boyden, Chief

Town Solicitor:

  • Tempe Steen


  • 911

Non-emergency police contact:

  • (302) 539-2000

Beach patrol:

  • Tim Ferry, Captain
  • The Beach Patrol is on duty beginning Memorial Day weekend each summer (Saturday, Sunday & Monday) and then two more weekends thereafter, and every day through Labor Day and then two weekends after Labor Day.

Trash pick-up:

  • October through April, Monday only. May through September, Monday & Thursday. Heavy trash pickup, June 8, 9 & 10 and September 9, 10, & 11.

Curbside recycling:

  • A voluntary townwide curbside recycling program through DSWA has been instituted beginning in 2008. Property owners may sign up on the town Web site or at town hall. Pick-ups are on Fridays, weekly from May to September and bi-weekly during the other months. The Fenwick Island Lions Club also collects aluminum cans in a bin behind town hall.

Keep it simple: Fenwick committee aims for simpler rules

After a rocky 2015 election, the Town of Fenwick Island is being proactive on voter registration. The Ad-Hoc Election Committee met Dec. 4 to begin educating residents and property owners.

The August election is over, so Councilwoman Julie Lee, committee chair, wants to focus on educating voters for next summer’s municipal election.

Fenwick hotels hearing reflects desire for smart growth

With some legal help, Fenwick Island residents have created a petition that could crush the proposed motel zoning ordinance.

A Dec. 4 public hearing was held on a zoning amendment that could allow existing hotels/motels to increase density to one sleeping room per 600 square feet of land. (Future hotels/motels would be limited to the current 1,000-square-foot limit.)

Fenwick motel talk takes center stage this Friday

This Friday, the people will have the floor, but they’ll be discussing beds.

The Fenwick Island Town Council will host a public hearing at Town Hall on Friday, Dec. 4, at 2:30 p.m., regarding room density in hotels and motels.

Room density is based on lot size. The town code currently allows hotels/motels to have one sleeping room per 1,000 square feet of overall land.

Christmas parades warm up the season

It’s time to bundle up, grab some hot chocolate and prepare those Christmas lists, and local towns will welcome the holiday season with the annual Christmas parades.

Fenwick to ‘SEAS the Holidays’ with event

Just because beach towns are less likely to see a white Christmas doesn’t mean they shouldn’t sing for one.

Fenwick Island is inviting residents and neighbors to a holiday gathering at the town park on Friday, Dec. 11. People can enjoy caroling, the tree lighting and hors d’oeuvres from 6 to 9 p.m.

Employees help each other with Fenwick personnel policy

Fenwick Island’s new personnel program will help employees in need, starting with a town police officer and his baby boy.

Town Council had a special meeting Nov. 5 just to consider and approve a Donated Leave Program.

Fenwick considers limited hotel expansion options

Hotelier warns against restricting growth

The Fenwick Island Town Council has backed off its original proposal to increase permitted hotel room density in the town. On Oct. 23, they approved, 5-2, the first reading of an ordinance that allows only existing hotels to increase density, to one sleeping room per 600 square feet of land.

Fenwick Island Town Council may put a limit on hotels

Public hearing postponed

When it comes to hotels, Fenwick Island is trying to find a way to make everyone happy.

The town council will consider a new ordinance on Oct. 23 that would allow the Sands Motel to have a higher density than it does now but limit any future hotels to the current, more restrictive code.

Fenwick Island business committee reviews summer season

Fenwick Island’s Business Development Committee took a look at the summer season for past improvements and future ideas.

Fenwick Island hotel ordinance passes first reading

Limitations teeter on the table

The Town of Fenwick Island took the first step this week toward loosening its hotel ordinance, which would help a local business owner renovate and upgrade the Sands Motel. A majority of the council voted on Sept. 25 to approve the first reading of commercial zoning changes (zoning Chapter 160-2 and 160-5).

Fenwick Island talks elections, dredging, communications

The Fenwick Island Town Council election is over for 2015, but discussions of it aren’t quite in the past.

TRAFFIC ALERT: DelDOT closes Route 1 between Bethany and Dewey

Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) officials announced around 4:30 p.m. that, due to high water, Route 1 northbound and southbound was being closed between Bethany and Dewey Beach (including the Charles Cullen Bridge over the Indian River Inlet).

Governor Issues limited state of emergency in Sussex County

Coastal flood warnings in effect along Atlantic Coast and Delaware Bays

With moderate to major coastal flooding expected at high tides today and tomorrow, along with high wind warnings along the coast, Gov. Jack Markell at noon on Oct. 2 issued a Limited State of Emergency for Sussex County, effective immediately. State offices will remain open, and no driving restrictions are being implemented; however, localized road closures may occur as conditions warrant it.

Newlyweds prepare for baby’s birth — and heart surgery

Like any parents, Stephen and Amanda Lowe are delighted to be having their first child together in October. But their baby boy has a long road ahead, starting with open-heart surgery within days of his birth.

Still in the womb, baby Coleton was diagnosed with transposition of the great arteries (TGA), in which his largest arteries are incorrectly attached to the chambers of the heart.

Gun ordinance passes Fenwick committee

The Fenwick Island Town Council may consider a new gun ordinance prohibiting the public from carrying firearms inside town buildings, including the police department.

A shuffling of dream jobs brings new Chamber employee

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Emilie Bonano recently joined the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce as the communications manager.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Emilie Bonano recently joined the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce as the communications manager.As soon as Emilie Bonano realized that she enjoyed marketing, she wanted to do that in a tourist location. That makes her new position as communications manager for the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce even more fitting.

What is the role of communications manager? “It’s all-encompassing,” she said. She’ll handle all press releases, newsletters, social media and email lists, but also creating, developing and selling ads for Chamber publications.

“Working for such a wonderful organization that really brings all of the tourism businesses together all in one, and being able to make this community united and getting the [word] out there for everyone” really excited her about this job, she said.

Bonano said she wanted to join a group that makes people and tourists “feel at home when they visit,” and get “the community united, and getting our tourists here going to the businesses that are members of the Chamber.”

The Chamber staff was delighted with her experience in marketing, event planning and recruiting.

From the classroom to the lifeguard stand

Coastal Point • Submitted: Tim Ferry (white shorts) with two Fenwick Island LIfeguards and State Rep. Ron Gray at the Aug. 28 town council meeting in Fenwick Island.Coastal Point • Submitted: Tim Ferry (white shorts) with two Fenwick Island LIfeguards and State Rep. Ron Gray at the Aug. 28 town council meeting in Fenwick Island.Since the age of 15, Tim Ferry has been guarding Delaware beaches. That was 40 years ago. But the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol captain wasn’t allowed to begin his 41st year without some celebration, as the Fenwick Island Town Council honored Ferry at its Aug. 28 meeting.

“There’s not much micro-management that has to occur when you’re working with” such an experienced employee, said Town Manager Merritt Burke.

More than the certificate and $50 award (per the Town personnel policy), Ferry looked amazed to receive a huge round of applause from the residents as he posed for photos with several other FIBP lifeguards.

“To say I like my job would be an understatement, but thank you,” Ferry said emotionally to the full house.

Even before beginning his 12 years as a FIBP leader, he learned to never underestimate anything on the beach, regardless riptides or calm water. Vacationing locally as a child, he’s always been enchanted by everything about the beach, from the sand to the small town.

Some wary as Sands Motel asks Town for room to grow

For more than 60 years, the Sands Motel in Fenwick Island has operated with fewer than 40 rooms. The current town code prevents new owner Spiro Buas from rebuilding a hotel with more than 39 rooms, which is a third less than the other hotels in town.

Buas is requesting that the Town significantly reduce the density limit so he can build a comparable motel.

Fenwick gets a flood insurance update

Fenwick Island Town Council members got an earful on Aug. 28, regarding flood insurance, motels and the recent election.

Resident Pete Frederick shared his concerns over the August election, including voter qualification, registration and the election itself. After comparing the Town’s actions to state and town law, he encouraged town council to change the requirements.

The council addressed his complaint about the town manager and town clerk (non-members of the Board of Elections) sitting at the door with a list of addresses to check people in.

The Board had invited those two to “be present for any questions,” the June minutes state. Weisling said any concerns should have been raised at that time, but Frederick called it infringement if people were turned away at the door.

Fenwick Island elects four, but not the ‘Fenwick Four’

More than half of Fenwick Island’s eligible voters cast ballots in the Aug. 1 town council election, responding to a month of intense campaigning by the six candidates running for four seats.

Incumbents Richard Mais (251 votes), Gene Langan (245) and Roy Williams (223) led in the polls, followed by challenger Julie Lee (199). They defeated challengers Lisa Benn (195) and Ann Christ (173).

Fenwick adopts $1.8M budget for 2016, no tax increase

The Fenwick Island Town Council approved the Town’s fee schedule and financial plan for the 2016 fiscal year at a July 24 council meeting, including a $1.8 million operating budget, $262,000 in capital improvements and new funding for maintenance of town parks — all with no property tax increase.

Town Manager Merritt Burke noted some increases in fees, with a business license to cost $185, up $10; late-payment fees up from $25, to $100; the special-event deposit increasing to $250; bonfire permits up $25, to $75; and the cost of an additional parking tag increasing to $75, from $50.

Serio retires from Fenwick council after a dozen years

The Fenwick Island Town Council and Town staff bid farewell to outgoing councilwoman and mayor Audrey Serio at her last meeting behind the council table on July 24. Serio was first elected to the council in 2003, having made the decision to run, she recalled, because her father had previously been elected to the council.

“I had built a new house here in Fenwick Island with my husband, and I said I was going to run and serve for one term — and here I stand,” she said 12 years later.

Fenwick voters to elect four town council members

Fenwick Island voters will select more than half of the town council when they take to the polls on Saturday, Aug. 1, from 1 to 5 p.m. at town hall. Four seats on the seven-member council are up for election this year, with six candidates in the race.

Fenwick voters question registration process ahead of election

Councilwoman Diane Tingle was the first to broach the topic of Fenwick Island’s voter registration process at the July 24 town council meeting, using the “old business” segment of the meeting to refresh memories about an ordinance the Town adopted in 2008, as part of efforts in Fenwick and other municipalities statewide to comply with changes in Delaware election law.

House fire stuns Wolfenbarger family, generates support

The good news was that no one was injured. But the tragedy was that the Wolfenbarger family lost everything else when their brand new home burned down on Thursday, July 16.
Two separate salvage companies have determined that none of their belongings was salvageable. The items that were lost were once special to Jeff and Kim Wolfenbarger and their teenage daughter, Isabel.