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    Special to the Coastal Point • Anne Martel: Cast members get into character as part of a dress rehearsal for a dramatization of the Last Supper, to be performed at Millville United Methodist Church on Wednesday and Thursday, March 23 and 24.Special to the Coastal Point • Anne Martel: Cast members get into character as part of a dress rehearsal for a dramatization of the Last Supper, to be performed at Millville United Methodist Church on Wednesday and Thursday, March 23 and 24.As part of their Eastertide season, Millville United Methodist Church is inviting the community to witness a dramatization of the Last Supper.

    “Millville United Methodist Church has been sitting on that corner now for 109 years. Isn’t that amazing? And, for some reason, years and years ago, it was labeled ‘the lighthouse on the corner.’ And we do our best to keep that going,” said Marianne Smith, who directs the Living Last Supper.

    The Living Last Supper will be presented at MUMC on Wednesday, March 23, and Thursday, March 24, at 7 p.m.

    Smith said that, over the last few Easters, the church has alternated between the Living Last Supper and a play about the 12 female disciples.

    “I don’t know how many people could actually tell you how many disciples died an actual death. Or how many were actually martyred or how they were martyred, you know? That’s something they will learn. I don’t think people realize what these men actually gave up, what they walked away from, and they will learn that. It’s informative, it’s stimulating and it’s shocking in some cases. But it’s all necessary to know.”

    Smith said the play is drawn from Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper at Santa Maria della Grazie.”

    “He picked the moment to paint when Jesus said to all of the disciples, ‘One of you will betray me.’ The hands, the expression of the hands and the faces, is phenomenal. And that’s what we bring to the table,” she said. “In fact, the painting is called ‘The Expression of Hands’ because the hands are so important.

    “For Jesus to be betrayed by one of his own 12 is a phenomenal thing. So you can imagine the guilt on Jesus’ face and the shock and dismay and disbelief on others. Then, poor Peter, with his sword ready to kill whoever it is… It’s wild, you know. Everyone reacts so differently.”

    Smith said the men who portray the disciples in the Living Last Supper are all members of the congregation who volunteer their time and talent.

    “They’re wonderful men. Not only are they doing the play, they’re building the set! It’s wonderful! We’re a very close-knit, very loving, giving, caring church. They knew, when I said I want to do this, they knew I needed 12 men. It’s great. We have a lot of fun.”

    MUMC pastor the Rev. Brad Schutt will also be in the Living Last Supper, representing Jesus.

    “And he does not speak. No one could really speak for Jesus — you know what I mean? So the narrator speaks. [Schutt] gives communion to the 12 at the Last Supper, and he will give communion at the railing to everyone in the congregation who wants to receive,” said Smith.

    “Of course, everyone is welcome to the table. It doesn’t matter what church you go to. Everyone is welcome at the table. There will be music as well — hymns. We’re to have them up on the board so they can join in and feel a part of it. It isn’t like they’re just going to sit there. You’re going to get information, get communion and be a part of it.”

    The program runs about an hour and is being offered on both Wednesday and Thursday nights to reach as many people as possible.

    “Many other churches have their own services Thursday. This way, everyone has the opportunity to come,” she said, adding that the program has been well-received over the years. “Standing-room only. We had to turn people away at the door. And the people who have seen it before can’t wait to come back and see it again.”

    Smith said the script was written by a few ministers, and the church purchased the rights to perform it for the public.

    “I just love it so much; it’s a beautiful play. It’s so touching. As many times as I hear it, and as many times as I follow the notes and direct, I learned something new. And the narrator says the exact same thing. The narrator and I both feel that we learn something every single rehearsal. It’s amazing,” she said. “If you’ve seen it once, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see it again, because we learn something new every rehearsal.”

    Smith said she first brought the play to MUMC after the pastor at the time asked the congregation to use their talents for the Lord.

    “Well, I couldn’t think of any talent that I had that I could actually share, other than making for people in that kind of thing. The only other thing I could think of was my mother was an English major — I’ve been in many plays, I’ve been with theater groups. I thought maybe, just maybe, that was something that I could do,” she recalled. “I started out with the women first, and it went over so well that we got this play.”

    As for the performances next week, Smith said she hopes the community will be moved to attend and learn what Easter is really about.

    “The only thing we really hope for is that someone learns something more than they knew before about the Lord, about the time of Jesus. And if they’re touched, if they want to come to the Lord, we will have someone there to help them at the altar. If they want to give their life to Christ at that moment, we’re ready,” said Smith. “I think the most important thing is that we touch their hearts, and that we bring the true meaning of Easter home to them. That’s our biggest desire.”

    Millville United Methodist Church is located at 36405 Clubhouse Road, at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Club House Road in Millville. For more information about the program, call the church office at (302) 539-9077.


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    It’s been a year since people got to discuss their feelings on proposed commercial oyster-growing in the area. Since then, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has questioned the appropriateness of Delaware’s proposed sites for future shellfish aquaculture.

    The Corps is still reviewing Delaware’s permit application for 442 one-acre plots for aquaculture in the inland bays, and 5 percent of that has caused most of the uproar, which the Corps appears to have heard loud and clear.

    In 2014, Delaware Department of Natural Resources (DNREC) included 24 acres on the shallow seabed of Beach Cove, a nearly enclosed body of water in the far southeast of the Indian River Bay.

    Neighboring residents fought back, forming the Coalition to Save Beach Cove, donating volunteer hours and “six figures” worth of donations to hire scientific consultants to get Beach Cove off the aquaculture list.

    Although things are quiet publically, the Corps had met with DNREC in the summer of 2015 to explain its preliminary position:

    “At that time, we were proposing to delete a portion of the sites in Beach Cove from our proposed regional review process at the federal level,” Corps biologist Ed Bonner told the Coastal Point. “Our position is based upon our consideration of public comments, to maintain vessel access across Beach Cove in an area identified as an uncharted channel reportedly used by the local community to travel between the west side of Beach Cove and the east side of Beach Cove.”

    Since that meeting, “the State has been working to resolve internal issues related to the issuance of the State leases,” Bonner added.

    “DNREC has worked with stakeholders to refine the areas where shellfish aquaculture leases will be focused,” DNREC spokesperson Michael Globetti told the Coastal Point.

    DNREC still has one more step in the regulatory process — the statewide activity approval, which is like a state-level version of the Corps’ general permit. Secretary David Small said he hoped DNREC would be doing that in early 2016.

    “We may apply that state general permit to a subset of that larger universe of sites that have been adopted by regulation,” Small told the Coastal Point in December.

    So, even if the Corps approves all proposed sites, DNREC could choose to just focus on certain areas and avoid other zones.

    The location of these areas will be announced in the form of a request from the Division of Fish & Wildlife to DNREC’s Division of Water to develop a Statewide Activity Approval (SAA) for shellfish aquaculture in designated subaqueous lands.

    After going through a public-comment period, the SAA “will streamline and expedite permit review in designated aquaculture areas, while allowing comprehensive review by the Division of Fish & Wildlife,” Globetti stated.

    Officially, no sites have been fully approved or rejected. No agency has announced a timeframe for a final decision.

    In October, the Delaware Speaker of the House hinted that locals will be happier with the end results.

    “We will get it right” before it goes into play, state Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf (D-14) had said. “The [sites] that are controversial will not be controversial anymore.”

    “That’s the goal,” Small had clarified, not making any promises.

    It’s been a year since public comments were due to the Army Corps Philadelphia District, in February of 2015.

    “I can’t give you lot of detail, other than to say we have discretion to determine which of those sites [are developed first],” Small said in December. “[We will] look at those to say, ‘OK — we know there’s been concern from some residents. Are there places that we want to focus on, at least initially, to see how this market develops?’”

    Bonner said he has not heard if DNREC is planning further modifications to the proposed aquaculture program.

    “At this point, we are still waiting for the State, and there is no timeframe for a decision on this matter by our office,” Bonner stated.

    At the edges of Beach Cove, residents of the housing developments haven’t heard of any Corps updates, but they have been sending information to the decision-makers.

    “We’ve had ongoing communication with DNREC and the Secretary, just continue to encourage them to not allow the aquaculture in Beach Cove and continuing to explain why,” said James P. bond, chair of Cotton Patch Hills’ Save Beach Cove Committee. “I think they’ve been receptive and understanding.”

    Those eight different communities aren’t against aquaculture in general, but they have presented personal and scientific reasons as to why Beach Cove shouldn’t be included.

    Ultimately, Bond said, they’re confident that “the right decision” will be made.

    With a unanimous vote in 2013, the Delaware state legislature instructed DNREC to create a commercial shellfish aquaculture industry. Since the public outcry, some legislators said they wouldn’t have voted for the aquaculture sites if they’d known how unpopular some of the locations would be.

    But the specific sites hadn’t been identified before the vote, as the legislature itself, through that vote, was instructing DNREC to determine the sites, leasing process and other regulations.

    Technically, when the DNREC process is complete, fishermen could still request to develop aquaculture beds anywhere in Delaware, but that’s a much more rigorous permitting process than with the pre-approved sites.

    “Any proposed aquaculture activity outside the designated areas will require a comprehensive review by the Division of Water and Division of Fish & Wildlife, and would require an individual permit, rather than an expedited SAA,” Globetti stated.

    Ultimately, Small said, the aquaculture farmers’ success will depend on a little of everything: the weather, skill level, efforts, investment and much more.

    “I think the potential is there to be economically viable,” Small said in December.

    Details about DNREC’s aquaculture proposal and process are online at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Fisheries/Pages/ShellfishAquaculture.aspx.


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    Bethany Beach Town Council members have been finalizing the Town’s 2017-fiscal-year budget ahead of a possible vote to adopt the budget at their March 18 meeting. (The Town’s 2017 fiscal year begins on April 1 and ends March 31, 2017.) This week, the council heard comments from the public at a hearing on the budget, held jointly with the Budget & Finance Committee on Monday, March 14.

    Generally, the council garners no public comments on its budget at the annual hearing, but this year, a proposal for a new reserve fund, called the Storm Emergency Relief Fund (SERF), is being considered as a way to help the Town recover quickly from infrastructure damage from a future hurricane, nor’easter or other natural disaster.

    In the event of a large storm, the fund could be used to repair or replace the boardwalk, as well as clean up debris and repair town buildings.

    While repairing such damage didn’t receive any opposition during Monday’s hearing, one resident voiced objections to how the funding for SERF is planned to be created. Initial funding is coming from the building permit and transfer taxes from the Bethany Ocean Suites Hotel project, which will provide $491,000 for the 2017 fiscal year and is expected to increase to $644,000 total in the 2018 fiscal year.

    But funding SERF beyond the money already set aside to start it will also mean some increases in taxes for both residential property owners and those who rent property to others, including:

    • An increase in the property tax rate, from $0.175 to $0.185 per $100 of assessed value. That is a 6 percent increase and would take effect on the May 2016 annual bill. Officials said it would cost less than $20 additional for most (61 percent) of the town’s residential improved properties. They estimated it will generate an additional $100,000 in revenue for the SERF reserve.

    • An increase in the rental tax rate, from 6 percent to 6.5 percent for residential and commercial rentals, and from 3 percent to 3.25 percent for rentals subject to the State accommodations tax, such as hotels.

    That increase was at one time proposed to take effect for property rentals as of May 1, but Councilwoman Rosemary Hardiman told the Coastal Point on Monday afternoon that she had been informed by local real estate rental agents that they had already sent out many of their rental contracts for the 2016 summer season, making it difficult to incorporate the tax until next summer’s rentals are on the table.

    Officials said the rental tax increase would also generate an estimated additional $100,000 annually in revenue for the SERF reserve, making $200,000 per year in total estimated revenue for SERF from tax increases.

    Costs of Dinker project raised in tax-increase opposition

    At Monday’s hearing, part-time resident Molly Feliciano first expressed concern about an alleged lack of transparency in the budget process, saying that the budget documents hadn’t been posted on the Town’s website in a timely manner but had been posted after she had unsuccessfully searched the website for them and called the Town to inform them that she couldn’t find them.

    Feliciano then addressed the tax increase aspect of the proposed budget, noting that when expenses and income don’t balance, household budgets often require a reduction in expenses, as opposed to increasing revenue.

    “Reducing expenses becomes the first option in balancing the budget,” she said, urging the council to consider reducing the Town’s expenses in lieu of the proposed tax increase. “SERF is desperately needed to repair our beach access walkways, and damage from future storms,” she acknowledged, “but I seriously question whether raising property and rental taxes are the best option, and I question whether other options were explored.”

    Feliciano suggested that the Town look at increasing the revenue from the fee it charges outside shuttles to drop people in Bethany Beach, saying, “Outlying communities would not be able to entice people to buy or prospective renters without the lure of convenient beach transportation.” The Town takes in roughly $42,000 in shuttle fees per year.

    “What line items have been closely scrutinized?” she asked, referencing the cost of parking enforcement employees.

    She then asked where the funds were coming from to complete the move of the historic Dinker Cottage and related changes to the Town’s Maryland Avenue Extended property, where it is to be relocated, stating that the amended budget for 2016 hadn’t included many of the related costs and that, with the estimate for the moving of the house having expired, she suspected that cost might have increased.

    Notably, Feliciano’s family and some of their neighbors (Phillip L. Feliciano, Mary C. Feliciano, Joseph Tropea, Mary Jane Tropea and David A. Namrow), recently filed a lawsuit against the Town and town council members, seeking an injunction to stop the project to turn the historic home into a museum on the Town-owned property that her family and others living or staying in that immediate area have traditionally used as a sort of park.

    In the suit the plaintiffs allege that the Town did not property notice meetings at which the project was considered and that the project would be detrimental to their enjoyment and use of their properties, which they said some of them had purchased while relying upon the Town property as “open space” under its Municipal, Open Space, Recreational & Educational (MORE) zoning as assurance for their continued use of it.

    (The council did not comment on the pending litigation this week, except for a casual question posed to Town Manager Cliff Graviet between meetings Monday about whether the plaintiffs could, in fact, pursue legal fees from the Town as part of their case, as they have sought to do.)

    “Perhaps the Town should take a serious look at what is needed for preservation of Bethany and what is non-essential,” Molly Feliciano suggested. “How many consecutive years can you raise taxes? … We will have to cut our personal budgets so Bethany does not have to cut its budget,” she concluded.

    Neighbor Joe Tropea was the only other citizen to comment at Monday’s hearing, saying Molly Feliciano had covered most of what he had to say and then asking what portion of employee costs were going to benefits, versus salary.

    Councilman and Budget & Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Peterson said that changes every year, and health costs are up this year, but generally, the Town has paid about 30 percent of its employment costs in the form of benefits.

    Balance of SERF sources and its goals discussed

    The hearing concluded on that note, but the council’s discussion of the SERF fund continued in its workshop immediately following the hearing. Mayor Jack Gordon reiterated that the Budget & Finance Committee had recommended the tax increases to fund SERF to spread its costs across property owners and renters, “so that everybody has skin in the game,” he said.

    Hardiman said that the Bethany Beach Landowners’ Association (BBLA) had said it would be willing to support the creation of the fund, so long as the cost was being shared equally and was not put solely on property owners. With roughly $10 added to the tax bill per $100,000 of assessed property value, “I think people are more than willing to contribute that amount,” she said. “I don’t think that’s very much when you weigh the urgency of what we’d need to do.”

    Both Gordon and Vice-Mayor Lew Killmer emphasized that the fund is not intended to repair damage to the beach and dunes.

    “The beach belongs to DNREC,” Gordon said. “If there are any repairs needed, they should be doing it.”

    The SERF fund would be for repair of Town infrastructure, Killmer said, which would include things such as the boardwalk, streets and Town buildings, along with operating costs to make those repairs.

    Beyond the funding mechanism, in order to create the fund, the council must first adopt a change in its fund balance policy, which is also on the agenda for its March 18 meeting.

    “Even at this rate, it’s going to take a number of years to get to the amount of money we’d need in case something significant happens to the town,” Killmer emphasized, noting an estimated $8 million that would be needed to replace the boardwalk alone.

    Even if FEMA continues to fund a significant share of such costs (roughly 70 percent today, but expected to decrease, as it did between Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy), he said, “30 percent of whatever the cost is is a significant amount of money.”

    But how much should go into the fund?

    “We don’t know. We don’t know how much we’re going to need, how much of a percentage FEMA is going to do,” said Gordon. “At some point in time, we’ll have a better idea, but right now, we need to establish it, and if we need more, if something happens, we can borrow. … Do we need $10 million, $20 million?”

    Graviet said that one of the things all the council members had wanted to do was make sure the fund was established.

    “But at the end of the year, we could have $600,000. Then we could work to establish a number. FEMA paid 75 percent for Katrina. Sandy was 65 percent. Depending on what they’re doing that year, our obligation is going to change. We have a good idea we will need $2.5 million to $3.5 million without anything catastrophic, but we’d need $8 million to replace the boardwalk.”

    The Town, he said, cannot purchase an insurance policy that would replace the boardwalk, so SERF would act as a sort of self-insurance against that kind of possible damage.

    Killmer said a side benefit of funding SERF is the testimony it could give to the financial stability of the Town.

    Post-Sandy, he said, “There were issues little towns had because they were not financially stable after the storm,” due to the loss of revenue from property owners and tourists, “so they could not qualify for low-interest funding to repair their infrastructure.

    “This gives us the ability to show financial institutions that we are financially sound and have the ability to pay off the loan. … A lot of people abandoned their properties,” he said of the Sandy-ravaged towns. “They lost a lot of taxable income because of that. Their whole budget was decreased.

    “We have to determine at some point whether we have enough money in that,” Killmer said of the fund, emphasizing that SERF would be “lockbox money” that would take a supermajority of the council to take out. “This is not to balance the budget. It is only for this purpose.”

    Councilman Joe Healy sounded a note of caution about what the Town can expect as far as outside funding for its beach, and the Town at large, in the event of a storm.

    “Having come back from the [American Shore & Beach Preservation Association] meeting, this was the first year I came back with less than a positive feeling from that group,” he said.

    “Let’s face it — people come here for the beach, and without that beach, we might as well rename the town Bethany,” Killmer added.

    Gordon again urged the council to keep the two issues separate. “The beach is a much broader issue,” he said, and one that could involve State, federal “and, hopefully, County funding.”

    The council voiced a consensus that they were in favor of changing the funding policy to allow the creation of SERF and to fund it in the 2017 budget.


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    A million comments seem to have done the trick. After receiving that much feedback, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced this week that the Atlantic Ocean has been removed from upcoming plans for oil and gas development.

    After introducing the Atlantic Ocean as a possible site for seismic testing and future oil and natural gas drilling, the Department received enough input in 2015 to warrant removing the Atlantic Ocean from the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022.

    “We heard from many corners that now is not the time to offer oil and gas leasing off the Atlantic Coast,” stated Secretary Sally Jewell of the U.S. Department of the Interior. “When you factor in conflicts with national defense, economic activities such as fishing and tourism, and opposition from many local communities, it simply doesn’t make sense to move forward with any lease sales in the coming five years.”

    The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is still working through the approval process for its Five-Year Program, which addresses the size and schedule of potential oil and gas lease sales in U.S. waters to best meet national energy needs.

    As part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, BOEM is tasked with managing the sale and responsible development of off-shore mineral energy resources on the outer-continental shelf. It published the Draft Proposed Program in January of 2015 — the first stage of lease sale schedule development.

    The Department has now excluded the Atlantic for several reasons, including “current market dynamics, strong local opposition and conflicts with competing commercial and military ocean uses.”

    The BOEM is still considering 10 potential sales in the Gulf of Mexico and three potential sales off the coast of Alaska in its Proposed Program, which was released on March 15.

    The Pacific Ocean wasn’t even considered, based partly “on the long-standing position of the Pacific coast states in opposition to oil and gas development off their coast,” the Department stated.

    The move doesn’t eliminate the possibility that the Atlantic Ocean will ever go into oil production.

    U.S. Rep. John Carney (D-Del.) called the news a “sigh of relief for folks in Delaware.”

    Carney has signed multiple letters and an op-ed stating his concerns about the program.

    “This proposal put our state and our neighbors at risk of suffering the same devastation we’ve seen time and again from oil spills around the world. It’s just not worth it,” Carney stated. “I’m glad the Administration heard our concerns, and I applaud them on the reversal of this decision.”

    Conflict resolution could be needed

    There is a risk to oil/gas drilling. But U.S. waters already have programs that are successful most days of the week.

    BOEM officials stated that more time is needed to reduce the conflict between the Atlantic’s many uses and oil/gas development. The East Coast already relies on the well-establish economies of ocean-dependent tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, and commercial shipping and transportation.

    If money talks, then established money talks loudly. In just the Mid-Atlantic Planning Area, commercial fishing could be worth “more than $1.5 billion in total value added gross domestic product (GDP),” according to the BOEM. Ocean-dependent tourism accounts for more than $6.5 billion.

    On one level, people on the Atlantic Coast are just unfamiliar with oil production, BOEM officials suggested. After all, BOEM manages about 5,000 active leases on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The majority of those 26 million acres are in the Gulf of Mexico.

    “While the offshore oil and gas industry co-exists with commercial fishing and ocean-dependent tourism in the GOM [Gulf of Mexico], that relationship has evolved over many decades,” the content of the Proposed Program stated. “Similarly in Alaska, oil and gas development activity in state waters has initiated the co-existence of the oil and gas activities and other uses.

    “In the Atlantic, however, there has been little history of such co-existence. Rather, the prospect of introducing into the coastal communities of the Atlantic the impacts of oil and gas development and the impacts of accompanying supporting infrastructure, along with the inherent risks (despite the important safety improvements that have been implemented), was met with significant opposition from the citizens and local officials that reside in those communities,” it stated.

    The state of things

    There is currently no oil or gas program in the Atlantic Ocean. The most recent lease sales were held in 1983, but those led to no oil/gas production.

    “Domestic oil and gas production will remain strong without the additional production from a potential lease sale in the Atlantic,” the program report stated.

    Whenever it was mapped, the single Atlantic site could have produced a fraction of a 1 percent of U.S. oil or natural gas supplies. Nationwide, “In 2015, OCS oil and gas leases accounted for about 16 percent of domestic oil production and 5 percent of domestic natural gas production.”

    Although gas prices may be low now, “In considering the long-run U.S. national security interests, the Atlantic oil and gas resources could become more valuable at some point in the future,” the report warned.

    Production of U.S. crude oil and natural gas have increased in recent years, helping reduce American reliance on oil imports.

    Seismic testing is still on the table

    Although the change from the draft proposal is a victory for opponents of drilling, it doesn’t officially take seismic testing off the table.

    As of March 15, the BOEM still had eight pending applications from private companies just to study the Atlantic Ocean, not to drill. Five of those include seismic testing off the Delmarva Peninsula. Three more applications have been withdrawn, and one less-invasive permit was approved in 2015 but has since expired.

    Seismic testing is the most thorough, but arguably most invasive, method for underwater surveying. Ships shoot airguns that can pierce deep underground. By traveling over hundreds of square miles, those early applicants would just be looking for zones likely to have gas production. They don’t know the Atlantic’s best spots for oil production yet.

    Between their results and federal research, the BOEM could create an underwater lease site. Gas companies could bid on that site, and the winner could be permitted to get rights to that site, later drilling if oil production is deemed worth the investment. (Updated information on all permit applications is found at www.boem.gov/Currently-submitted-Atlantic-OCS-Region-Permits.)

    “Companies may have little incentive to conduct seismic and other G&G [geological and geophysical] studies unless there is the likelihood of lease sales in the program area,” BOEM officials admitted. So including the Atlantic could have provided an incentive for the industry to keep studying the area, “which will lead to more information that could be utilized to refine future estimates of potential resource endowments.”

    But “with offshore drilling off the table in the Atlantic, there is absolutely no reason to risk the damage that would be caused by seismic airguns in that area,” stated Jacqueline Savitz, of the international ocean conservation group Oceana, which opposed the Atlantic sites. “Seismic airgun permits are still being pursued in an area of the Atlantic that is twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida.

    “With no drilling plans in sight, there is absolutely no reason to put more than 100,000 marine mammals in harm’s way.”

    Speaking up

    “The people of Maryland and Delaware should be proud of today’s announcement,” said Caroline Wood, Mid-Atlantic campaign organizer for Oceana.

    “From oyster farming to fishing to crabbing to whale watching to tourist beach towns, coastal livelihoods were at risk,” Wood said of the Chesapeake and Atlantic coasts, “and the citizens of these states not only understood their role in this movement, they worked diligently and passionately to express their opposition. This is an example of true grassroots organizing and a well-won victory.”

    The Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT) knocked on the door of more than one municipality, encouraging town councils to address the issue and sent statements of opposition to the BOEM. (Bethany Beach was scheduled to take up just such a resolution at its town council meeting on Friday, March 18.)

    Although only 40 municipalities submitted comments during comments period, more than 100 have officially opposed seismic testing and/or oil drilling in the Atlantic. That includes Dewey Beach, Fenwick Island, Lewes, Milton, Rehoboth Beach and Ocean City, Md.

    Commenters ranged from Virginia garden clubs to industry experts. That includes the Delaware Natural Resources & Environmental Control, scientists, Chambers of Commerce, fishery management councils and many more.

    Comments ranged from the fears of an oil spill, which would impact the health of local wildlife and economies, to the Wallops Flight Facility’s maintaining a safe offshore launch hazard area in nearby waters.

    Although the governors of Virginia and North Carolina expressed interest in a lease sale in the Atlantic, they had expressed hope for a revenue-sharing program to offset the risks. But U.S. law currently forbids that revenue sharing.

    On a broader scale, the move to limit gas production is an important step in mitigating climate change, according to Oceana.

    “This is a courageous decision that begins the shift to a new energy paradigm, where clean energy replaces fossil fuels, and where we can avoid the worst impacts of decades of our carbon dioxide emissions,” stated Savitz.

    The entire 279-page document of the “2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil & Gas Leasing Proposed Program” is online at www.boem.gov/2017-2022-Proposed-Program-Decision.

    The public has 90 days to comment on this week’s Proposed Program and 45 days to comment on the accompanying Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS).

    After that, the BOEM will publish the Proposed Final Program and PEIS. Once Congress and the president have commented on those documents, the final Five-Year Program will be announced.

    More information and maps are available online at www.boem.gov/Five-Year-Program.


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    The Roxana Volunteer Fire Company announced that they are hosting a live-fire drill on Saturday, March 19, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the now-vacant Twin Cedars Apartments, located at 36112 Zion Church Road near Frankford.
    This drill has been in the making for at least 5 years and has taken countless hours of coordination between the departments, owner and government agencies.
    The drill, which will include firefighters from Roxana (Station 90),Selbyville (88), Frankford (76), Dagsboro (73), Millville (84), Bethany Beach (70), Lewes (82), Bishopville (900) and Ocean City (700), will involve live-fire exercises throughout the building and will culminate in the three-story apartment building being burned to the ground on Sunday afternoon.
    Roxana Fire Chief Christopher Uibel said that “live-fire exercises in the field are rare but are extremely valuable in helping fire fighters experience ‘real world’ fire-fighting conditions which they cannot obtain at fire school”.


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    Coastal Point • File Photo: A group of costumed Bunny Palooza runners pose for a pre-run photo during the 2014 event.Coastal Point • File Photo: A group of costumed Bunny Palooza runners pose for a pre-run photo during the 2014 event.The Bunny Palooza 5K/10K is getting under way just in time for Easter, making its way to Bethany Beach this Saturday, March 26.

    The charity run will benefit the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation and feature age-group awards for First Place Overall Male and Female, First Place Master’s Male and Female, in addition for first- to third-place age-group awards.

    New this year will be the Hocker’s BBQ food truck, presented by the Bank of Ocean City, with the post-race party with Shock Top and Michelob Ultra provided by NKS Distributers.

    There will also be live music before and after the race, by D.J. Bump, and local Zumba instructor Kristina Isom will be offering a pre-race warmup.

    The race will get started at South Atlantic Avenue and Parkwood Street and finish oceanfront at the bandstand on the boardwalk in Bethany Beach.

    Packet pick-up and onsite registration is scheduled for Friday, March 25, at Mango’s in Bethany Beach from noon to 4 p.m. Another packet pick-up and registration session is set for race day, on Saturday, March 26, from 7:15 to 9:15 a.m.

    Pre-race announcements will begin at 8:15 a.m., with the 10K kicking off at 8:30 a.m., and the 5K getting under way at 9:30 a.m.

    The race cost $35 for the 5K and $45 for the $10K. For more information, visit http://qrcf.org/event/bunny-palooza/ or contact Brigit Taylor at info@bunnypaloozarun.com.


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    Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: When the Bears of Cub Pack 280 stopped in for a visit to the Ocean View Police Department, the boys didn’t know they were going to get handcuffed. Here Fiore Raithel has his turn as Ty Brown watches and waits for his turn.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: When the Bears of Cub Pack 280 stopped in for a visit to the Ocean View Police Department, the boys didn’t know they were going to get handcuffed. Here Fiore Raithel has his turn as Ty Brown watches and waits for his turn.Last month, the Ocean View Police Department hosted the Bears of Cub Pack 280 and gave the boys a little insight into being a police officer.

    Cpl. Rhys Bradshaw told the four Bears, along with parents, that the OVPD is an eight-man department made up of seven men and one woman, with a ninth officer soon to be hired.

    “Our responsibilities here at the police department are to handle calls for service — anything from a burglar alarm, someone at somebody’s house who’s not supposed to be there, to people that have little arguments with other each other, and then we do traffic enforcement,” explained Bradshaw. “And just helping anybody who needs it. I’ve changed flat tires. I’ve picked people up at the hospital.”

    Bradshaw said another big aspect of his job is to visit Lord Baltimore Elementary School.

    “We go there every day. If you guys have problems there at the school, we’re there to help you. If you have questions or just want to come say hi, that’s what we’re there for. We enjoy you guys talking to us.”

    During the evening, the Bears were given a tour of the police station and were able to see the jail cells, how officers fingerprint people in custody and the department’s ATV.

    Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Cpl. Bradshaw poses with the boys: from left, Fiore Raithel, Ty Brown, Gavin Harrell and Travis Netting.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Cpl. Bradshaw poses with the boys: from left, Fiore Raithel, Ty Brown, Gavin Harrell and Travis Netting.The Bears were also able to check out the officers’ gear. Bradshaw said officers wear 20 to 25 pounds of gear on their waist every day, not including the bulletproof vest that each officer is required to wear. They were also able to try on a heavy tactical entry vest, designed to stop rifle rounds, and a Kevlar helmet.

    Bradshaw also went over a few of the weapons the department uses, including a Mossberg 500 12-guage shotgun with a breaking barrel, a 40 millimeter launcher used as a less lethal device and an LWRC 286 semi-automatic assault rifle.

    The boys were then able to pick up the cleared weapons, after a talk about proper safety techniques.

    Amanda Netting, den leader for the Bears of Cub Pack 280, said having her third-graders visit a police station is part of the year’s programing.

    “There are 12 tenants of being a Scout,” she said. “In each rank, we do specific things in order to complete our year’s worth of programing. One of the things they ask us to do as a Bear is to visit a police station. We interact with the police, we learn their purpose and to appreciate what they do.

    “On our own, we’re responsible for six or seven of the skills demonstrated here tonight. So we’ll talk about why you always point a gun downrange.”

    To continue with the lesson, Netting had also set up a mystery in which the Bears would have to dust for fingerprints and identify their parents.

    Netting said the Boy Scouts of America recently revamped their program to include a greater focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math education).

    “The focus on being outdoors, the focus on being civic-minded is still there, but they’ve added a big focus on STEM because it’s 2016,” she said, “and because not every kid is athletic. There needs to be enough to draw them in and engage them.”

    As for the tour of the station, Bradshaw said the department doesn’t actively seek out organizations to invite for tours, but he said the officers always love inviting the public in.

    “It’s the group that contacts us. But anytime a group wants to set something up — church groups, kids’ groups — we’re more than willing to accommodate them, bring them in and give them a tour. We love doing this kind of thing.”

    The OVPD prides itself on its community policing, Bradshaw said, and taking the time to speak with kids about law enforcement is key in its outreach efforts.

    “With all the stuff going around about police these days, it’s important to bring the kids in and teach them about what the police do. Most of the time, when they see us, it’s when we’re pulling someone over, or just walking through a school or a business. It’s important for them to come talk to us and learn what this job is all about.”

    Those who may be interested in more information on Scouting or in joining Cub Pack 280 can email cubpack280@yahoo.com. The Ocean View Police Department is located at 201 Central Avenue, on the first floor of the Wallace A. Melson Municipal Building. For more information about the department or to inquire about a tour, visit www.oceanviewde.com or call (302) 539-1111.


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    Coastal Point • Laura Walter: A recent walking tour of the Delaware Botanic Gardens grounds included local supportes and internationally acclaimed Dutch designer Piet Oudolf, fourth from left.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: A recent walking tour of the Delaware Botanic Gardens grounds included local supportes and internationally acclaimed Dutch designer Piet Oudolf, fourth from left.Although the Delaware Botanic Gardens has plenty of planting to do, this month was for planning. The DBG board and designers recently held a three-day charrette — the French term for a meeting in which all stakeholders gather to plan solutions for the future.

    Since the garden attraction is the first of its kind in southeast Delaware, the planners have attracted some big names: Ted Flato, of the award-winning architecture firm Lake/Flato, will supervise master planning for the site; Delaware’s own Rodney Robinson serves as the garden’s landscape architect; and internationally acclaimed Dutch designer Piet Oudolf will create one of his signature meadows.

    Originally hoped to open this June, the DBG is now aiming for the spring of 2017. Visitors next spring will see the woodlands, Oudolf’s meadow, a pavilion and entrance improvements. In later years, the garden should flourish with a freshwater pond, children’s garden, a visitor center, an amphitheater, a greenhouse and more.

    They’re ironing out details on the ground, which had ranged from discussing educational programs to Board President Sue Ryan marching through the woodlands with a tape measure to envision various land designs.

    “It’s one thing on paper,” Ryan said, but with site visits, the team can actually see how sunlight will hit the site and how the woodlands slope down to the river.

    Located on Piney Neck Road, the 37-acre site looks just like its neighbors: another agricultural field in a farming community. With 25 acres of “blank canvas” at the site’s front, the field leads to 12.5 acres of woodlands, which reveals a hidden landscape of the Pepper Creek shoreline.

    Planners are looking for the best way to show off those features. They are trying to create an impactful narrative that pulls people into the woods for surprises around every corner.

    For instance, “The architectural component is not just a matter of plopping down a building,” Robinson said. This charrette, he said, “has begun to change things, because the architecture is [responding to the] landscape of Sussex County.

    “We’re all trying to make this garden distinctive so people will want to see it,” Robinson said, calling the botanic gardens’ team a great, energetic and committed group of people with a “can-do and will-do spirit.”

    When asked how they’ll control pests such as ticks — notorious in Delaware for spreading Lyme disease, Oudolf said, “People should protect themselves. You never solve it, so as a person you always have to be aware. … We all have our responsibility in life.”

    His idea of personal responsibility resonates with the garden’s goal to work with what they have, to sculpt and enhance nature, not paint over it. But, ultimately, this is a designed garden, not a wildlife restoration, Robinson said.

    And some of the bugs carried by animals will exit the equation when the garden erects a fence to keep deer out, Flato said. By using environmentally sustainable buildings, the garden could reduce opportunities for pests, too.

    A project of this magnitude requires a lot of fundraising. Phase I construction and operating expenses are estimated at about $3 million. (Oudolf’s garden will cost nearly $350,000 alone).

    The volunteer gardens board said they are already grateful to have received more than $100,000 worth of professional engineering, design and legal pro bono contributions from Delaware companies, plus support from local, state and federal officials.

    “So many individuals, families, businesses and other supporters have already stepped up to help us ‘Open the Garden Gates,’” Ryan said of the first fundraising phase. “We can’t thank them enough for their confidence in us and urge everyone on Delmarva to join them in making this dream a reality.”

    Currently, donations to help DSB will go even further, thanks to a matching grant program with the Longwood Foundation, which announced the awarding of up to a $750,000 grant in December ($500,000 awarded immediately, and another $250,000 when DBG matches that with an additional $500,000). The Longwood challenge expires in March of 2017.

    Other recent Delaware contributors include the Welfare Foundation for $75,000, the Crestlea Foundation for $50,000 and the Marmot Foundation for $40,000.

    Single donations and long-term pledges count toward the Longwood goal. Donations may be made online at www.delawaregardens.org or by check mailed to Delaware Botanic Gardens, P.O. Box 1390, Ocean View, DE 19970. (The Southern Delaware Botanic Gardens Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.)


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    It’s about a half-inch thick and years in coming (many years, when the larger picture is considered) and, in it, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers offers an answer to Bethany Beach about its ongoing flooding problems:

    There’s not much they could do, and nothing further they plan to do.

    “This is something we funded partially with $55,000 and the Corps with $120,000,” said Mayor Jack Gordon at the Bethany Beach Town Council’s workshop on March 14. “This is our latest attempt to try to get a handle on the flooding in town, which has always been a concern.”

    “Every time somebody wades to the post office … this is something that comes up,” he continued. “It’s a topic we’ve addressed for years and years and years, and this is the latest official word on it.”

    “We asked the Corps to look at flooding from a larger perspective than just the 1 square mile of Bethany Beach,” Town Manager Cliff Graviet explained Monday. “We asked them to look at the surrounding area and look at what we can do to control tidal flooding in the area.”

    Graviet noted that the flooding happens mostly north of Route 26 and is caused “by things out of our control.”

    That includes the Loop Canal, which sees water flow from the nearby Salt Pond and Assawoman Canal. The Corps also looked at possible dams or choke points near the Cotton Patch development to the north and closer to the Indian River Bay, seeking information on whether flap-gating or damming — such as with the bladder dam that has been considered in the past — might impact flooding.

    On page 80 of the report, in the second paragraph, is a summary of the report’s conclusions:

    “Continuing with the ‘best case’ concept, the simplest, effective alternative (LCD 4.5) was taken through a conceptual design, cost estimate, and economic analysis to determine if the benefits realized through flood damage reduction would outweigh the costs of constructing the dam.

    “The economic analysis concluded that there was a 95 percent certainty that the benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR) for the proposed project would be less than 1.0 (costs are greater than the benefits). The BCR is the standard parameter which USACE applies to all Civil Works feasibility studies to determine if project construction would be justified. Any BCR that is less than 1.0 is considered not justified.

    “Therefore, from the perspective of USACE, further analysis of an inflatable dam at the confluence of the Loop Canal and the Assawoman Canal is not recommended. USACE recommends that the Bethany Beach flood risk management feasibility study be terminated at this time.”

    Graviet pointed out that the summary references only the problems due to tidal flooding, and doesn’t even take into account rainfall from a storm.

    “It talked about some things that could have an impact,” he said. “But the Corps funding ended at a certain point, and they didn’t include rain runoff from points in the community.” With rainfall as an additional factor, he said, “the minimal impacts of a dam would be reduced even more. … We’re nowhere near the Point where the Corps would get involved and continue to help with addressing flooding in the town,” he concluded.

    Vice-Mayor Lew Killmer noted that the study includes documentation of all of the past studies on flooding in the town, dating back to 1999 and not including the Corps’ own work.

    “There have been seven studies by the Town with no clear direction as to what was best,” he said, noting that the best of the possible efforts referenced by the Corps would mitigate a 10-year flooding event (a storm, not heavy rain).

    Under that scenario, a $1.4 million inflatable dam placed at the confluence of the Loop and Assawoman canals would cost the Town $94,000 per year to maintain and have less benefit that that cost.

    Killmer said that, with a significant source of the flooding problem coming from outside town limits, “It would be diff or nearly impossible to address it, because of the lack of jurisdiction of the Town and other agencies.”

    Gordon emphasized that one reason the Town didn’t have so much infrastructure damage in floods is that its building ordinances have helped prevent damage.

    “If we follow FEMA guidelines for new construction and major renovations — at this point, we’re almost limited to that kind of mitigation of flooding,” Killmer added. “Most of these things aren’t under our control. This is one of the facts of life of living near a beach, an ocean, a significant body of water. At certain points they come out of their banks.

    “I do believe the Town has done everything possible to do to look at this. We’ve done our due diligence,” he continued. “I know it’s not going to make a lot of people happy, but there’s not much more the Town can do.”

    Graviet said one of the important takeaways from the report was that, even with the Loop Canal dammed at its confluence with the Assawoman Canal, it would have minimal impact, not greater than that of a 10-year storm. “And that doesn’t take into consideration rain from an event. That means Pennsylvania Avenue, where the most severe flooding is, is unlikely to receive any benefits from an inflatable dam.

    Gordon noted that the street is largely below sea-level. “Atlantic doesn’t flood like Pennsylvania Avenue does,” he said.

    “It’s a bowl. It comes right down the street from the north,” Killmer added.

    Councilwoman Rosemary Hardiman said she’d been surprised by the portion of the study indicating how much water comes in to the Loop Canal from Fresh Pond, which leads into the Salt Pond. “Depending on where a dam would be placed, there were diminishing returns all along the Loop Canal. It wasn’t as great as I’d thought it would be.”

    Killmer reminded fellow council members that when the Town had previously looked into a bladder dam, DNREC officials had been “unhappy” with the idea because it would transfer some of the flooding into neighboring communities.

    Graviet said that prior information had suggested the impact of a dam outside the town would have been minimal — a few inches in increased water levels.

    “This report suggests there would be 18 to 20 inches of increase in flooding along the Assawoman,” he said. “That takes it out of consideration,” he declared, saying DNREC wouldn’t allow that kind of impact to take place.

    And while it might look like water in a storm was coming over the spit from Salt Pond into the canal, Graviet said the report confirmed that the water does, in fact, flow from the Assawoman into Salt Pond. The Town now uses time-lapse photography to show just that during storm events, he said.

    With renovations to Route 26, he added, the water no longer flows across Route 26 but stays on that side.

    Hardiman said that she hoped the Town would add a cover sheet or executive summary to the report, to draw people’s attention to things such as the information on Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Gordon said he wanted to make sure people could review it for themselves, asking Graviet to put it, in its entirety, on the Town website. (The full study is online at http://townofbethanybeach.com/DocumentCenter/View/2125.)

    For Councilman Joseph Healy, one takeaway is how lucky the Town has been because of another aspect of its storm protection — one that protects it from the ocean.

    “I go back to Sandy,” he said. “We don’t get enough credit down here for making sure we had the dune in front. That dune has really saved us twice now, and if a third event occurs, I don’t know what is going to go on,” he added of the current state of the dune, damaged from two nor’easters over the winter and not scheduled for renourishment until 2017.

    “We’re not given any credit for that” in the report, he noted, though Graviet emphasized that the report doesn’t address flooding from the ocean, just from the inland sources.

    Healy noted state officials’ comments after Sandy, referencing the lack of FEMA or Red Cross trucks “over there trying to repair physical damage to us. That cost savings doesn’t show in this.”

    Drone restrictions in the works

    Also on March 14, the council discussed a draft of a proposed ordinance that would restrict the flying of drones in the town.

    Graviet acknowledged possible conflict in the regulations with those being developed by the FAA, but said the Town would likely revisit the ordinance once the FAA regulations were finalized. The draft regulations are based on those drafted for use in Chicago, he noted.

    He said he had spoken with council members about ways in which the Town might be able to permit commercial drone flight but said the problem was how to regulate such use.

    “There is no competency exam or license you can get … to verify your credentials,” he said. People can (and are generally required to) register their drones with the FAA. But, he said, there is no inspection as to whether a given drone is safe to operate and manageable to fly.

    “There are so many ways for them to fail,” he said, referencing mechanical problems, wireless signal issues and human error. “I’m not sure how we would permit any individual to operate a drone” if the council passed an exemption for commercial flight.

    Killmer said the emphasis of the regulations was on public safety, especially regarding the town’s beaches. With so many drones sold over the past Christmas season, he said, “We don’t want this to be an issue with so many users, with people sitting on the beach, people flying them along the beach and boardwalk,” he said, referencing possible crashes and drones possibly being flown into families.

    “We have to be more proactive than reactive. You know they’re going to come here. Other towns have contacted council members with their concerns. At the end of the day, to do nothing would be inappropriate also.”

    Killmer said he thought drone flights could, to start out, be limited to the owner’s own property, with permission from their neighbors.

    “This is something we can’t drop, because I think this summer it could be an issue.”

    Hardiman noted that Realtors are using drones to offer perspectives of homes for sale.

    “As long as that’s being done with the permission of the owner,” she said, “that would be fine. What troubles me is that it says it’s for recreational purposes only. If we could find some way to put in commercial purposes, with the permission of the owner, that would take into account Realtors.”

    Councilman Bruce Frye said the Town had to take into account a future with drone deliveries from Amazon.com and people wanting to do aerial coverage of the Fourth of July Parade.

    “It’s very clear it should be limited,” Graviet said, because of the possible safety issues. “Absent some way to qualify the experience of someone operating the drone or the mechanicals and systems in the drone, how do we do that? There isn’t a way now.”

    Gordon noted that, on New Year’s Eve, during the Town’s first ball-drop on the boardwalk, “There must have been 500 people on Hollywood. And I saw this green drone flying over. I didn’t think the Town was going to be looking at doing that,” he said. “And then I found out it wasn’t the Town. I have no idea who was flying a drone over 500 people. If it had fallen out of the sky, who knows who’s liable?”

    Gordon also noted concerns about privacy issues, which have already come into play with the Town’s own webcams.

    “This is an issue we can be out in front on.”

    Gordon said the issue would be considered again at the council’s April meeting.


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    The Summer Concert Series on the Bethany Beach bandstand will once again offer a diverse lineup for 2016. The stage will feature 50 acts designed to entertain audiences of all ages every weekend throughout the summer, officials announced this week.

    The season kicks off Memorial Day weekend with the United States Navy Cruisers on Saturday, May 28. The band performs contemporary arrangements of pop, rock, jazz and standards.

    The Cruisers are one of six military bands returning to Bethany with their world-class musicians. Others include the Navy Sea Chanters, the Army Jazz Ambassadors and the 287th Army National Guard Concert Band. The USAF Celtic Aire will debut its Irish folk repertoire in Bethany on Saturday, July 16.

    The series then takes a short break for the Seaside Craft Show on Saturday, June 4, when more than 100 juried fine craft vendors will set up shop on the boardwalk, bandstand and downtown streets. (The Joe Baione Jazz Trio will perform on the bandstand from 11 a.m. to 4.p.m.)

    Concerts resume on Friday, June 10, with Sons of Pirates — a Jimmy Buffet/trop-rock-inspired beach band. That is one of 13 tribute acts on the talent roster and a natural fit for the beach venue, according to the Town.

    “Last season’s audiences got to experience a different musical genre each night of the weekend if they chose to,” said Events Director Julie Malewski. “They were excited about that and wanted more of the same for this year.”

    According to surveys, tribute bands topped audiences’ wish list, so, on July 2, Desert Highway is scheduled to pay a timely homage to the Eagles in the wake of Glenn Frye’s passing. Others making their debut are Gringo Jingo (Santana tribute) and Chicago Reloaded (Chicago), with another visit by Oh Boy! (Buddy Holly).

    Cover bands will offer familiar songs, from funk and Motown to rock, pop and country. Along with returning favorites, there will be seven new bands on the roster, including local band Skinny Leg Pete, the Joseph Sisters out of Nashville and Washington D.C.’s La Unica Band. There will even be an opera performance on Sunday, July 24, highlighting a Gala with the Three Tenors.

    Bethany audiences will also get to hear from original artists. On June 12, a former bass player for Bad Company, Paul Cullen, will share his Tuscan-influenced acoustic music in a co-headlined evening with comedy singer-songwriter Todd Chappelle. Country band The Stickers will return visit on Saturday, July 9, as they gain traction on Music Row and recognition on TV broadcast events, such as the ABC series “Nashville” and the Daytona 500.

    Wednesdays in July will again feature a Kids Club, with child-friendly entertainment on the bandstand and Rehoboth Children’s Theater performances in Town Hall. Carnival Night launches on July 6, complete with face-painters, Uncle Pete and a magic show by Dickens Parlor Theatre.

    The Talent Show will be held on Friday, Aug. 19. That annual event showcases an array of local and visiting talent with no age restrictions.

    All events are free and sponsored by the Town of Bethany Beach. For a complete list of events and bios on these and other featured acts, visit www.townofbethanybeach.com, under Activities.


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    Lovers of Delaware history may find plenty to love in the latest free lecture to hit Ocean View courtesy of the Ocean View Historical Society. The presentation will be given by Russ McCabe, former director of the Delaware Public Archives, and will be held on Wednesday, March 30, at 7 p.m.

    “He has a reputation as one of the most knowledgeable Delaware historians. And one of the most colorful storytellers,” said Carol Psaros, president of the society. “We’re very lucky that he can make the time out of his schedule. He’s quite busy with a lot of historical groups. He’s quite generous with his time, so we’re quite grateful he’s going to speak to us.”

    McCabe will speak on the early history and settlement of Delmarva, and how it was shaped by political, religious and cultural events.

    “He worked at the Delaware Public Archives for over 30 years and was the director for many years. He knows all aspects of Delaware history. We’re just so thrilled to have him,” Psaros said. “He has deep Delaware roots. His great grandmother was an Evans. She was from Ocean View. In fact, she was married in 1894 at the Ocean View Presbyterian Church, which is the oldest church building in what is now Ocean View.

    “It’s not to say that people didn’t congregate before then, in homes, under trees, at country stores, for services, but the Ocean View Presbyterian Church was the first church built in Ocean View, followed by Mariners church shortly thereafter.”

    The free lecture will be held at Ocean View Town Hall. Light refreshments will be served, and all are welcome to attend; however, space is limited.

    Psaros said the lecture will kick off the historical society’s spring season, which will also include Ocean View Homecoming on May 14. Although the society no longer oversees the event, their historic complex will be open for tours during the event.

    Adjacent to John West Park, the historic complex is home to the Tunnell-West house; an 1800s outhouse; the town’s first post office, built in 1889; and an exact replica of Cecile Steele’s first chicken house.

    “Right after that, we’ll start our summer open-houses every Wednesday afternoon from 1 to 4. We have a busy spring season coming up, and we’re looking forward to warmer weather, being outside to celebrate the past and Ocean View’s history,” said Psaros.

    Along with their Wednesday open-houses, the society often hosts local groups at the complex, including students from Lord Baltimore Elementary School.

    “We do anticipate that there will be Lord Baltimore students coming, and possibly others. We do have other groups that have things reserved. In April, we have two groups coming — a group from the Ocean View CHEER Center and a group of students who are in the University of Delaware Lifelong Learning class,” she said. “All the time, we’re expanding our service to groups in the area. To date, we don’t charge groups … although we have always accepted donations.”

    The society will remain busy in the fall months, with its annual fall fundraiser on Sept. 17, which they hope to have at Ocean View Church of Christ.

    Then, on Oct. 5, Michael DiPaolo, executive director of the Lewes Historical Society will present a free lecture on old-time baseball.

    “Michael DiPaolo is a member of an old-time baseball team, and one of our board members Mike Read, is the umpire for that old-time baseball league,” said Psaros. “Michael DiPaolo is going to talk about the rules of old-time baseball and will be there in his old-time uniform. That should be a good lecture.”

    Psaros added that the society is also considering offering a cemetery tour in the fall as well.

    “That just gives you a glimpse of what’s coming up,” she said.

    At the end of 2016, the society will also begin working on a capital campaign to raise funds to construct Hall’s Store, a replica of a country store from the early 19th century.

    In 2017, the society will take ownership of the Evans-West house, located near the historic complex, which they plan to turn into the Coastal Towns Museum.

    “In order to bring that to fruition, we need more money, to raise funds to build whole store and also to create the coastal towns museum. Our membership we are delighted is growing… But that’s not going to support starting to new buildings.”

    Psaros said the society is always looking for new members and volunteers, as the organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Those who wish to join may inquire online or by filling out a membership form at one of the society’s many public events.

    Membership, said Psaros, does come with perks aside from the tax deduction.

    “You do get a break on some of our events… For instance, for our fall fundraiser, there’s a membership price and a non-member price,” she said. “We frequently reach the capacity of the town hall. So, we’re now saying if the room reaches its capacity, current members will get preference.”

    Psaros said the society is excited to be bringing dynamic speakers, such as McCabe, to its public lectures and hopes the community will continue to support their efforts in keeping local history alive.

    “We do have a lot of neat events on the horizon in the spring through the fall. So we’re excited to get rid of the snow and move into spring.”

    For more information regarding the Ocean View Historical Society, visit www.facebook.com/oceanviewhistoricalsociety. Those interested in donating to the society or becoming a member can visit www.ovhistoricalsociety.org. Ocean View Town Hall is located at 32 Central Avenue in Ocean View.


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    The Indian River School District will not hold a school board election in 2016, as only one candidate registered for each seat that was up for election this year. The incumbents were uncontested, so their new terms will begin on July 1.

    Gerald “Jerry” Peden will begin a four-year term in District No. 2 (north Millsboro and southern Georgetown).

    Heather Statler will have a three-year term in District No. 3 (south Millsboro and northern Dagsboro). (Coastal Point previously reported that District No. 3 carries a two-year term. This was incorrect.) Peden and Statler have different term lengths because two board vacancies were filled by appointment in 2015.

    The IRSD is the Sussex County’s only school district without a contested election this spring.

    School board candidates for other districts can be found online at www.electionssc.delaware.gov, by selecting “2016 School Board Member Filings.”


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    For years, Sea Colony has been working with area Special Olympics Delaware athletes. Not only does Sea Colony help raise money for the organization through its annual Turkey Trot 5K Run & Walk but also by allowing local athletes to train at their facilities, free of charge.

    Last year, when Sea Colony began their fitness center renovations, area Special Olympics athletes found another local gym in which to train during the interim. However, the other gym was not compatible, and the athletes returned to Sea Colony’s Edgewater facility.

    “We went back to Sea Colony and asked, ‘Can we come back?’” recalled Marie McIntosh, one of the coaches for the area athletes of the Sussex Riptide. “They said, ‘No, no! Come back, it’s no problem!’ We ended up going back, and it’s just been wonderful. They accommodate our parents with a place for them to sit, and they’re friendly.

    “I can’t tell you how accommodating they are. They welcome our athletes with open arms. They’re there to help with whatever we need.”

    Seven athletes meet at Sea Colony every Thursday, for an hour, to train with four coaches.

    “Next year, when their new fitness center opens, we’ll open it up to more athletes,” said McIntosh, who said the limited number of athletes was due to the smaller facility. “What they do is strength training. They lift lightweights, stretching, and work on their core.

    “Some of our parents have remarked about how much stronger these athletes are now than they were last year. They can hit better tennis balls; they can bowl better. It’s remarkable the difference it’s made.”

    Coach Tony Gough, who helped put together the training program for the athletes, said focusing on core muscle strength is extremely important.

    “If improve your core, you improve everything you do. It’s not like a sports program… It just strengthens all their muscles and improves their coordination, so when they bowl or play tennis they have better coordination, better muscle power, better strength.”

    Gough said strength training makes a huge difference not only physically, but mentally, too.

    “The better you feel about your body, the better you feel about how you can execute a move,” he said. “If you feel confident that you can hit that ball, you’re going to do it better. If you’re confident you can run that race, you’ll do it better. It’s the confidence you get from knowing you’ve trained and knowing you can do it.”

    McIntosh said she has been working with Jen Neal and David Griffith at Sea Colony, who help their athletes use the fitness center, tennis courts and swimming pools.

    “They are just fabulous,” she praised.

    Neal said having the athletes at Sea Colony has been a wonderful experience and builds on the recreational facility’s longstanding relationship with SODE.

    “It’s just building a relationship with them to have good community outreach,” said Neal. “It’s great because we know them. We see them out and about, and when they come and are a part of our race, just getting to know them and their families. We don’t just get to know the athletes, we know their extended family, too.”

    Although SODE team Sussex Riptide has approximately 300 athletes in all, approximately 30 live in the local area.

    The mission of Special Olympics Delaware is to “provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for more than 4,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.”

    “It’s important to support them because it helps you to understand how to assist people in overcoming adversity when you yourself may not have to do so. You always think things may be bad, but someone has it worse.”

    McIntosh said it is wonderful to work with area businesses such as Sea Colony, along with Bear Trap and the Delaware National Guard, who embrace the athletes.

    “Sea Colony has been one of our staunchest supporters. They have always, always welcomed with us open arms when we’ve wanted to do something there,” she said. “I can’t tell you how gracious and welcoming they have been. And the National Guard has been the same. They’ve been just wonderful. The community at large has been just great with us.”


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    The Millville Town Council’s workshop meeting on Tuesday, March 22, could be called a “sign” of the times.

    A major topic of discussion was the council’s proposed amendments to its sign regulations — particularly referring to political signs. The move, according to Town Solicitor Seth Thompson, is a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June 2015 regarding “content neutrality” of temporary signs.

    At issue, Thompson said, is how the Town words its sign regulations in terms of content — whether there are different regulations for different types of signs. In Reed v. City of Gilbert, the Supreme Court found that an Arizona town unconstitutionally regulated political signs differently than, say, directional signs. The case in question involved a small church with no permanent home, which placed temporary signs to direct people to wherever the church was meeting at that time.

    The Supreme Court decision reversed an earlier circuit court decision and proclaimed that the town’s sign ordinance unfairly differentiated between different types of signs. Thus, Thompson said, the need for Millville to revisit its sign ordinance to ensure that it, too, is “content neutral.”

    “We’re really kind of in the forefront of this,” Thompson said at the council workshop.

    Councilman Steve Small wondered if changing the town’s sign ordinance might “open the door” to temporary commercial signs being allowed for a period of several weeks, as political signs are currently regulated.

    “Is it customary for a business to erect a political advocacy sign?” Small asked.

    He said he “could see a business wanting to put up a sign in the case of a referendum,” as opposed to endorsing one political candidate over another, which, he said, might alienate some customers. He asked Thompson to clear up language in the amendment to eliminate confusion.

    Town Manager Debbie Botchie, however, expressed concern as to whether changing the amendment would fly in the face of the recent Supreme Court decision.

    “Why not go ahead and amend the ordinance as written and see what happens this political year?” she asked.

    The discussion led to some talk amongst town officials about other signage issues in the town, particularly the handling of signs belonging to businesses along Route 26 that have had to remove them due to road construction. Some of those signs were not in conformance with Town regulations, Botchie said, and will have to be brought in line with the regulations before they are re-installed.

    “Any business that had to move a sign, they had to conform. Others need to be contacted as well,” in order to bring all signs in the town into compliance, Botchie said. “I think we have, like, 96 percent non-conforming,” she said.

    Town Code & Building Administrator Eric Evans said, “You’re going to have signs that are always going to be non-conforming on Route 26.”

    Small expressed concerns about the large signs at Millville’s two large shopping centers, but Botchie said they are in compliance because they are located in the town’s C-2, large commercial zone. Botchie added that there will be no more of those types of signs in the town because its comprehensive plan does not allow for more of that type of development in the town.

    A public hearing on the proposed changes to the town’s signage ordinance will be held at the April 12 town council meeting.

    Botchie on March 22 also presented the draft 2017-fiscal-year budget to the council. Details will be available to the public in advance of the April 12 town council meeting on the budget, Botchie said.

    The council also heard the annual audit report from the Town’s auditor. Herb Geary of the TGM Group Inc. announced that the Town’s books have received the notation of “unmodified,” which he said is the “highest level of assurance” that the Town’s books are in fine shape.

    The Town had $2.8 million cash on hand at the end of its 2015 budget year, Geary said, which with expenditures of $526,000, he added, is outstanding.

    “Debbie [Botchie] and Lisa [Wynn, finance administrator] are very good at what they do and they tend to be very proactive, which is good for us,” Geary said.


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    Having heard from the community in recent weeks their positions on both sides of the question of whether to close the “paper street” called Maryland Avenue Extended or the Maryland Avenue Extension as a site for relocation of the historic Dinker Cottage, the Bethany Beach Town Council on March 18 voted 5-0 to make the closure official.

    That process mirrored the process used years ago to close the northern section of that “road” ahead of making it part of the future “Central Park.”

    Fresh on the heels of another public hearing just prior to the council session, the council emphasized that the public record had been closed and no further comments could be permitted, outside their own discussion.

    The hearing and other comments from the public had led to a few minor changes to the proposed resolution to officially close the street to vehicular traffic. Those changes included that the Town, at its discretion, would continue to allow traffic access to an existing paved/gravel area that has been used as a cut-through between Hollywood and Parkwood streets, which would be preserved in that graveled/paved state.

    The revised ordinance also allows that the public’s access to some open portions of the property will be preserved, aiming to address complaints from neighbors that the Town-owned and –maintained property had long been used a sort of communal back yard and should, in their view, be kept solely as open space. (Five neighbors on March 10 filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the proposed closure and cottage relocation — see story on Page 1.)

    Councilwoman Rosemary Hardiman stated that, after the hearings and other public discussion of the issue, she had been surprised at the “number of people who were unaware that the Town owned that property and that they could use that property. By locating the cottage there, it is a sign to everyone that it is Town-owned property and, yes, you can come and use it.

    “The closure is in the best interests of the town,” she said, “and this will let everybody in town know it is their property and they’re able to use it.”

    Councilman Chuck Peterson said he felt the closure for placement of the cottage as a museum was “probably the best use of the land. Vice-Mayor Killmer noted that the Town had also established a precedent for moving historic homes for museum-type uses when it moved and restored the former Addy cottage to become part of the Bethany Beach Nature Center.

    With Councilmen Brue Frye and Jerry Morris absent, the council’s 5-0 vote to officially close the street was the next step in the Dinker Cottage museum project, pending the outcome of the lawsuit by the neighbors.

    Also on March 18:

    • The council voted 5-0 to remove hotels, motels, boarding houses and tourist homes as permitted uses in the C-1 Commercial Zoning District, citing the change of zoning in recent years for the only such uses that had been in existence — the Blue Surf Motel and Bethany Arms Motel. Both properties were re-zoned into the new CL-1 Commercial Lodging district.

    • The council voted 5-0 to add “freeboard” to Footnote (p) of the Town’s Table of Dimensional Requirements, after having approved in 2015 an 18-inch mandatory freeboard (increased building start height, to reduce flooding impacts) for all new construction and substantial improvements to existing structures.

    • The council also voted 5-0 to amend Section 425-85 (Dimensional Exceptions Sections) (B) and Subsection (D-1) of the Zoning Code, pertaining to bay and bow windows and residential front steps, per changes proposed and approved by the Planning Commission after a public hearing in February.

    The revision dictates that chimney eaves, and bay and bow windows may project out a maximum of 2 feet from a structure and that bay and bow widows are limited in size to 10 linear feet. It also revises encroachment limits for front steps and landings, and dictates that they must fall within a 10-by-10-foot area.

    • Town Manager Cliff Graviet reported that Town staff were working on bid documents for construction of a storage complex for the Town’s property in unincorporated Frankford/Clarksville and should soon be ready to open the project for bidding.

    He also reported that the contractor who will be refinishing the Town’s water standpipe would be beginning that work in the next week or two, with three to four weeks of work anticipated, and hopes of being done before Memorial Day. He said they had also scrapped the notion of using a pole barn for the water plant’s mineral pond and would instead be putting a new pond in roughly the same location as it was before the site was re-developed to put in the new water tower.

    • The council voted 5-0 to appoint William E. Baxter to the Town’s Audit Committee, replacing the late Mike Horne. Chairman Pat Shepley noted that Baxter had already attended a committee meeting and, as the Town’s annual outside audit is pending, would be an important addition to its membership.

    Shepley also reported that the internal auditing process in the last fiscal year had specifically focused on payroll procedures, as well as the process for voiding parking tickets. For the coming fiscal year, he said, they would include a statistical review of a report from the parking department manager on the numbers of tickets written and avoided, as well as a review of new municipal software. The committee also recommended the Town continue to use the TGM Group for the external audit. The committee will meet again in May, after the external audit field work is done.

    • The council voted 5-0 to appoint retired municipal attorney Tempe Steen, whose family also operates the town’s beach rental concession, to the Charter & Ordinance Review Committee (CORC). Hardiman, who had asked as the committee’s chairperson that Steen be added to its membership, said she felt Steen would be “a very valuable addition to the committee.”

    • The council voted 5-0 to approve awarding beach and boardwalk exercise class concessions to providers for another season of bootcamp classes, yoga on the beach, yoga on the bandstand and Pilates, adding barre classes for 2016.

    • Cultural & Historical Affairs Committee (CHAC) Chairwoman Carol Olmstead reported that the committee had recently discussed their February cultural evening and its presentation on Fort Miles, which was so heavily attended that they needed to bring in extra chairs.

    On April 19, she said, Saul Brody, an expert in American occupational folk song, will bring his guitar and harmonica to town hall and discuss music’s role over the years in the lives of workers. A planned program on the First State National Historical Park, which was approved three years ago, will be aimed for the fall, due to scheduling issues involving U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, who championed the park’s creation.

    Committee members, she reported, had also recently attended the Small Museum Association Conference in Ocean City and visited the historic Dinker Cottage for a tour led by former owner Christina Edgar.

    • Killmer reported that the Non-Residential Design Review Committee had unanimously approved signage applications from Atlantic Shoals Surf Shop at 113 Garfield Parkway, which is re-using the existing sign box for the former Sandy Toz/Sandy Pawz but with external illumination; and from Patterson Schwartz Real Estate for new vinyl decal signs at the bottom of its storefront windows and on its recessed front door.

    • The council heard appeals from neighbors of the Town’s property in unincorporated Frankford/Clarksville that was proposed to include a new shooting range for the Bethany Beach Police Department’s use, under an application before the Sussex County Board of Adjustments. (That application was denied on March 21 — see story on Page 1 — with the County BoA having heard from many of those residents about their opposition to the proposal.)

    Resident Jane Richards said that, while she supported the Second Amendment and law-enforcement, she opposed the shooting range location and felt it would lower the property values of the property’s neighbors, so she had invited the neighbors to speak at the council meeting “as a goodwill gesture.”

    Speakers cited their concerns and encouraged the council to withdraw the application, while Steen said she had had some difficulty finding in Town documents the purchase price of the property or the council’s approval to apply for the special-use exception needed from the County. She urged the council to publish more information on Town actions, such as the figures for grants to the fire company and library that were made March 18, and to add live online streaming of council workshops, at which much of the council’s discussion of issues takes place.

    • Peterson reported that, for the current fiscal year, through the end of February (92 percent of the fiscal year), the Town had received 101 percent of budgeted revenue and had spent 89 percent of budgeted expenses, with revenue having already exceeded the budgeted expenses for the fiscal year.


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    Bethany Beach is now officially saving up for a literal rainy day, with the creation and funding by unanimous votes on March 18 of the new Storm Emergency Relief Fund (SERF), which would be used to repair infrastructure damaged in a natural disaster, such as a nor’easter or hurricane (but not to repair the beach itself).

    The creation of the fund, which would require a supermajority of at least five council members to access, was allowed by a 5-0 vote of the council (with Councilmen Bruce Frye and Jerry Morris absent) to amend the Town’s Fund Balance Statement, which references all the Town’s various funds and reserves.

    The second portion of creating the fund came in the form of adopting the 2017-fiscal-year budget, which included tax increases designated to fund SERF.

    The council had previously voiced support for a plan to initially fund SERF from the building permit and transfer taxes from the Bethany Ocean Suites Hotel project, which will provide $491,000 for the 2017 fiscal year and is expected to increase to $644,000 total in the 2018 fiscal year, and continue its funding through a set of tax increases spread across both property owners and rentals, beginning May 1 and totaling $100,000 from each source in the 2017 fiscal year.

    But, as Councilwoman Rosemary Hardiman had told the Coastal Point last week, local real estate rental agents had informed her that they had already sent out most of their rental contracts for the 2016 summer season and collected many of those rental payments, making it difficult to incorporate the tax until next summer’s rentals were on the table.

    The Bethany Beach Landowners Association (BBLA) had expressed its support for a fair division of the tax burden to fund SERF across both rentals and property owners, but through Vice President Bob Mowry last Friday said it opposed implementation of the rental tax increase until after the summer season.

    As a result, Hardiman on March 18 proposed revising the timetable for the tax increases, shifting back the implementation date to the 2018 fiscal year, beginning with rental agreements made on or after Sept. 1, 2016, with taxes due on those on June 1, 2017, allowing rental agents more time to accommodate the changes.

    Delay in tax increase suggested

    And, with that change proposed, Hardiman said she also had to propose the shifting of the effective date for the property tax increase to property owners to May 1, 2017, in order to maintain the notion of fairness of the tax burden that the council had sought in increasing taxes on both rentals and property owners.

    “As a practical matter, it would not be equally shared,” she said. “Property owners would be paying their full $100,000 share this year, while renters would be paying only $25,000, if that.”

    Hardiman said that she’d been told that, on average, only about 25 percent of rental agreements are made after May 1, and that most of the larger homes, with their larger rents, were booked already for the 2016 summer season, meaning even less than 25 percent of the rental revenue would come in after May 1.

    Finance Director Janet Connery confirmed that the bulk of rental tax revenue is from the fall and winter — about 96 percent of it — with only about $35,000 paid for rental contracts made in May or June.

    “Rent collection for this summer started last October,” Hardiman said, “so we’ve already lost a half a year of applying the tax to the renters. Property owners would end up paying the bulk this year.”

    Furthermore, she said, in visiting nine local Realtors to ask about the issue, she said none of them were happy with the idea of having to make the change at this point in the season, and while five of them said they could manage it, two said it would present substantial difficulties, particularly owing to the nature of the software they use to track rental agreements, which doesn’t easily allow them to be altered mid-season.

    Considering Hardiman’s suggestions, Councilman Chuck Peterson, who heads the Budget & Finance Committee, said, “I agree with the idea of fairness and equity, but there is some urgency, especially now, in getting the fund started — especially without the protective dune now.”

    The loss of much of the constructed dune during two nor’easters this winter has left the town vulnerable to significant damage should a hurricane or another nor’easter hit before planned beach re-nourishment through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2017.

    “I agree we can’t implement one half without the other, but seven of the nine said they could implement it by May 1 if they were notified today,” he said. “I have some reservations about cutting those $200,000 out of the process,” he added, noting that the change wasn’t a one-time loss for the Town, as the funding would have compounded if collected as proposed.

    Hardiman noted that, with the loss of previously collected rental payments, if the funding was put in place as proposed, the total wouldn’t even be $200,000.

    “I don’t know what it would be,” Peterson said.

    “I don’t either,” she replied.

    Tax increase on rentals bumped up and back

    Town Manager Cliff Graviet took a moment to note that he hadn’t been an advocate of raising the rental tax a full percent, from the current 6 percent, but that a Realtor had asked him about the possibility of starting the tax increase later and had said they weren’t opposed to it being increased by a full percent — to 7 percent, instead of the 6.5 percent proposed.

    He suggested the council consider raising the rental tax to 7 percent, but with the increase implemented at the end of the season instead, with the difference helping make up for the loss resulting from not collecting it sooner.

    Hardiman agreed that the proposed hotel rental tax increase, from 3 to 3.5 percent on businesses that already pay the state’s accommodations tax, could still be implemented on May 1, since that is paid whenever guests pay their hotel bill.

    “The only issue I have is springing this right here and not giving people an opportunity to weigh in,” Killmer noted. “We just doubled what we were going to do. The problem is we’ve been tabling this over and over again, and we’re now at a point where we’re dealing with contracts that have already been issued.”

    Graviet noted that, with Hardiman’s amendment, the change in rental tax rates was not going into immediate effect but would be for next summer’s rentals, meaning there was some advance notice being provided.

    Killmer said everyone hadn’t realized during prior discussions that there would be consideration of a full percent increase, versus the proposed half-percent.

    “At the public hearing, we discussed that rate, and now we’ve changed it to something else,” he said. “Are you prepared to vote on that right here?”

    Graviet said the change was responsive to the Realtors, some of whom had previously suggested the rate be 7 percent. Hardiman said the BBLA had also suggested 7 percent.

    The council settled on that idea, keeping the hotel tax rate at the 3.25 percent proposed (up from 3 percent) and implemented on May 1 (as originally proposed) and increasing the property tax rate from 17.5 cents per $100 of assessed value to $18.5 cents per $100 of assessed value as of May 1 (also as previously proposed), but raising the rental tax rate to 7 percent (up from 6 percent, and .5 percent more than originally proposed) and implementing that change for all rental contracts made on or after Sept. 1, 2016.

    Councilman Joseph Healy objected to the change and voted against it, and the resulting budget, with both passing on the 4-1 vote. The 2017-fiscal-year budget, in all, includes $9 million in total revenue, $7.4 million in operating costs and $1.5 million in capital costs and debt repayment.

    Delegation pushes to repurpose funding

    Addressing the Town’s concerns about the vulnerability of the beachfront due to the compromised dunes, Mayor Jack Gordon said Graviet he had been told by DNREC’s Tony Pratt that U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) was “working hard to get some of the funds designated for Sandy relief that haven’t been spent and are not ready to be spent in New Jersey, to be redirected so we can tap into the replenishment planned in Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach this year.

    “We’re grateful for his efforts,” Gordon said, adding that many of the area’s coastal towns had called the Congressional delegation to thank them for their efforts for funding a repair of the dunes sooner than 2017.

    Graviet said he echoed the thanks for Carper, who he said is “leading the charge for the Congressional delegation to find funding to replenish our beaches.”

    With another (mild) nor’easter anticipated over weekend, he said the Town could expect more erosion of the sand already pushed to the dune line, and that had meant that the Town was holding off on re-constructing some of the damaged steps from the boardwalk to the beach, instead just working to construct new steps at the south end of the boardwalk plaza, which staff hoped to complete by the weekend.

    “We’re reluctant to try to construct them in other areas so they don’t end up in the ocean again,” he said.

    Healy sounded a further note of caution about the beach’s condition and its future condition, reporting that, having attended a meeting of the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association in February, he hadn’t found things “as helpful as past events,” despite getting time with Carper and members of U.S. Sen. Chris Coons’ and Rep. John Carney’s (both D-Del.) staff.

    He said official focus was on regional management plans, with a focus on natural features for beach preservation — particularly on “soft” features, such as dunes.

    “I would love to see a melding of sand and the hard, but that requires we maybe have an overall regional plan,” he said. “One of ASBPA’s tenants is implementation of state and regional coastal plans. I’d like to see us support that. ‘Wide beaches and high dunes’ — that’s what protects us.”

    Council declares opposition to seismic testing, drilling

    Further addressing concerns about the long-term future of the town’s beaches, the council on March 18 also proceeded with a vote to adopt a resolution in opposition to seismic testing and offshore drilling activities along the Atlantic coast, despite the Obama administration’s decision last week to drop plans for opening up the Atlantic coast to oil and natural gas leases in the next five years.

    “The council had a presentation at its February workshop about seismic testing and the idea of oil drilling out there as the administration had been presenting,” Gordon said. “Since then — when they found out the Town was talking about passing a resolution opposing it,” he asserted with a laugh, “the federal government decided to withdraw wanting to have that done.”

    Gordon said the Assateague Coastal Trust, which had made the presentation last month, had since advised the council to proceed with considering the resolution — because oil and gas exploration might be considered in the future, and because seismic testing could proceed at any time, as preparation for possible future exploration.

    The resolution opposes seismic testing and drilling for oil and natural gas in the mid- and south-Atlantic generally and off the Delaware shore specifically.

    Healy noted that the ACT representative had been “very much opposed” to such exploration and drilling, and that was a concern for him. “We have yet to hear a speaker in favor,” he said. “I would love to hear the other side of the story.”

    Rich King, a Millsboro resident who heads DelawareSurfFishing.com, said documents laying out the case in favor of exploration and drilling were available on the federal government website as part of the previously considered documentation from those supporting it.

    “They still have permits in play,” he said of seismic testing, noting also that the council’s resolution would make it the 110th municipality to declare its opposition to seismic testing and exploration in the Atlantic.

    The council voted 5-0 to adopt the resolution of opposition.

    Also on March 18:

    • The council voted 5-0 to remove hotels, motels, boarding houses and tourist homes as permitted uses in the C-1 Commercial Zoning District, citing the change of zoning in recent years for the only such uses that had been in existence — the Blue Surf Motel and Bethany Arms Motel. Both properties were re-zoned into the new CL-1 Commercial Lodging district.

    • The council voted 5-0 to add “freeboard” to Footnote (p) of the Town’s Table of Dimensional Requirements, after having approved in 2015 an 18-inch mandatory freeboard (increased building start height, to reduce flooding impacts) for all new construction and substantial improvements to existing structures.

    • The council also voted 5-0 to amend Section 425-85 (Dimensional Exceptions Sections) (B) and Subsection (D-1) of the Zoning Code, pertaining to bay and bow windows and residential front steps, per changes proposed and approved by the Planning Commission after a public hearing in February. The revision dictates that chimney eaves, and bay and bow windows may project out a maximum of 2 feet from a structure and that bay and bow widows are limited in size to 10 linear feet. It also revises encroachment limits for front steps and landings, and dictates that they must fall within a 10-by-10-foot area.

    • Graviet reported that Town staff were working on bid documents for construction of a storage complex for the Town’s property in unincorporated Frankford/Clarksville and should soon be ready to open the project for bidding.

    He also reported that the contractor who will be refinishing the Town’s water standpipe would be beginning that work in the next week or two, with three to four weeks of work anticipated, and hopes to be done before Memorial Day. He said they had also scrapped the notion of using a pole barn for the water plant’s mineral pond and would instead be putting a new pond in roughly the same location as it was before the site was re-developed to put in the new water tower.

    • The council voted 5-0 to appoint William E. Baxter to the Town’s Audit Committee, replacing the late Mike Horne. Chairman Pat Shepley noted that Baxter had already attended a committee meeting and, as the Town’s annual outside audit is pending, would be an important addition to its membership.

    Shepley also reported that the internal auditing process in the last fiscal year had specifically focused on payroll procedures, as well as the process for voiding parking tickets. For the coming fiscal year, he said, they would include a statistical review of a report from the parking department manager on the numbers of tickets written and avoided, as well as a review of new municipal software. The committee also recommended the Town continue to use the TGM Group for the external audit. The committee will meet again in May, after the external audit field work is done.

    • The council voted 5-0 to appoint retired municipal attorney Tempe Steen, whose family also operates the town’s beach rental concession, to the Charter & Ordinance Review Committee (CORC). Hardiman, who had asked as the committee’s chairperson that Steen be added to its membership, said she felt Steen would be “a very valuable addition to the committee.”

    • The council voted 5-0 to approve awarding beach and boardwalk exercise class concessions to providers for another season of bootcamp classes, yoga on the beach, yoga on the bandstand and Pilates, adding barre classes for 2016.

    • Cultural & Historical Affairs Committee (CHAC) Chairwoman Carol Olmstead reported that the committee had recently discussed their February cultural evening and its presentation on Fort Miles, which was so heavily attended that they needed to bring in extra chairs.

    On April 19, she said, Saul Brody, an expert in American occupational folk song, will bring his guitar and harmonica and discuss music’s role in the lives of workers over the years. A planned program on the First State National Historical Park, which was approved three years ago, will be aimed for the fall, due to scheduling issues involving Carper, who pressed for the park’s creation.

    Committee members had also recently attended the Small Museum Association Conference in Ocean City and visited the Dinker Cottage for a tour led by Christina Edgar.

    • Killmer reported that the Non-Residential Design Review Committee had unanimously approved signage applications from Atlantic Shoals Surf Shop at 113 Garfield Parkway, which is re-using the existing sign box for the former Sandy Toz/Sandy Pawz but with external illumination; and from Patterson Schwartz Real Estate for new vinyl decal signs at the bottom of its storefront windows and on its recessed front door.

    • The council heard appeals from neighbors of the Town’s property in unincorporated Frankford/Clarksville that was proposed to include a new shooting range for the Bethany Beach Police Department’s use, under an application before the Sussex County Board of Adjustments. (That application was denied on March 21 — see story on Page 1 — with the County BoA having heard from many of those residents about their opposition to the proposal.)

    Resident Jane Richards said that while she supported the Second Amendment and law-enforcement, she opposed the shooting range location and felt it would lower the property values of the property’s neighbors, so she had invited the neighbors to speak at the council meeting “as a goodwill gesture.”

    Speakers cited their concerns and encouraged the council to withdraw the application, while Steen said she had had some difficulty finding in Town documents the purchase price of the property or the council’s approval to apply for the special-use exception needed from the County. She urged the council to publish more information on Town actions, such as the figures for grants to the fire company and library that were made March 18, and to add live online streaming of council workshops, at which much of the council’s discussion of issues takes place.

    • Peterson reported that for the current fiscal year, through the end of February (92 percent of the fiscal year), the Town had received 101 percent of budgeted revenue and had spent 89 percent of budgeted expenses, with revenue having already exceeded the budgeted expenses for the fiscal year.


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    The Sussex County Board of Adjustment this week denied the Bethany Beach Police Department’s application for a special-use exception to operate a shooting range for the department on a piece of Town-property in unincorporated Frankford.

    The BOA met on March 21 after hearing testimony related to the application on Feb. 29. During that hearing, 34 people in attendance were opposed to the application, with 18 of them speaking.

    The 7.02-acre property is zoned AR-1. It is located on the west side of Blackwater Road, about 1,230 feet north of Burbage Road.

    Following testimony in February, the board chose to table the matter, to give themselves more time to review the application.

    Board Member E. Brent Workman said Monday night that he was not in favor of granting the special-use exception.

    “I’m not in favor of it. I think it will affect neighboring properties,” he said. “There are 34 people against it — there’s got to be a reason they’re against it.”

    Workman said he was also concerned that the police department had no plans to put up gates or a fence surrounding the range, to keep non-law-enforcement persons from using it.

    Board Member Norman Rickard agreed with Workman, stating he didn’t understand where the need came into place.

    “I can’t see where a single police department would want their own firing range when they’ve had to qualify for their certificates for years and have used other ranges and haven’t had a problem there. I think it’s something they want; I don’t think it’s something they need.”

    He added that he believed residents’ concerns regarding the possible disruption of wildlife were warranted.

    “There’s some wildlife there. The first shot that goes off there, I think, is going to be detrimental to that part of the area they have. They say they have some bald eagles there. They are a protected, from what I understand, species. And, certainly, you don’t want to disturb things like that.

    “I’ve had some experience in law-enforcement and firing ranges, and I just don’t think this is the place it should be,” Rickard added. “I don’t want to set a precedent where every incorporated town will come and appear before us. They have the right to do that, but I don’t want to give them the idea, ‘Just look for a piece of ground somewhere, come see us and we’ll see what we can do there.’ I don’t want to give that impression.”

    Board Member Jeffrey Hudson echoed Workman and Rickard in his opposition.

    “The area that the application is applied for is a growing area, and I would certainly have to say that the 34 residents present in opposition at the hearing certainly did present evidence that, in their minds, it will substantially affect adversely the uses of adjacent and neighboring properties in that area. “

    Board Chairman Dale Callaway said the greatest concern voiced by the opposition was the noise generated by the range.

    “The additional noise from the outdoor shooting range will likely increase noise pollution in a quiet neighborhood and unnecessarily disturb the neighbors.”

    Callaway also referenced neighbor Willia Peoples, who owns two Boston terriers and fosters other dogs, as she testified the range would adversely affect when and how she can use her property.

    “She specializes in working with rescue animals and dogs, and has fear of issues. The time the applicant intends to use the range coincides with the times when she typically trains those animals. The existence of a shooting range will likely have a substantial, adverse and chilling effect on the operation of her business.”

    He also stated the application did not mention how the department would handle the environmental effects of an outdoor shooting range.

    “The applicant testified that it would maintain the property but did not present a convincing plan as to how to limit exposure to neighboring and adjacent properties, particularly the waterways from pollution due to emissions from fired rounds at the range.”

    John Mills was the only board member who was in favor of granting the special-use exception, but he stated he “can appreciate concerns the opposition had.”

    “Personally, I feel that their concerns were speculative. We did have a local Realtor as a professional witness who said it would not have an adverse effect on the properties.

    “We did hear there have already been issues in the past with hunting, or at least with shooting. We’re talking about a controlled environment the Bethany police department is asking for, where they have three sides of berms around the area where they intend to shoot, unlike a hunter, who is shooting randomly across a field or open area. I have to disagree with you fellas in regard to that.”

    Mills also stated that he thought concerns about the safety of area children were adequately addressed in the application, as the range would only be used during the day, when children were in school.

    “Again, I think the opposition — their concern was speculative.”

    The board voted, 4-1 to deny the application, with Mills opposed. The vote was met with applause by some of those who were in attendance, along with statements of ‘Thank you, gentlemen,” and “Amen.”

    The Bethany Beach Police Department could choose to appeal the board’s decision to the Delaware Superior Court; however, officials from the department could not be reached for comment by the Coastal Point’s Wednesday news deadline.


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    Property owners hoping to keep a historic Bethany Beach cottage out of their back yards have filed a lawsuit against the Town of Bethany Beach, seeking immediate injunctive relief.

    The lawsuit was filed March 10 in the Delaware Court of Chancery by five people whose Bethany Beach homes abut the proposed new location for the Dinker Cottage, which was donated to the Town and accepted by the council in January.

    Named as petitioners are Phillip L. Feliciano, Mary C. Feliciano, Joseph Tropea, Mary Jane Tropea and David A. Namrow. Named as defendants are Bethany Beach Mayor Jack Gordon; Vice Mayor Lew Kilmer; Secretary/Treasurer Chuck Peterson; Council Members Bruce Frye, Rosemary Hardiman, Jerry Morris and Joseph Healy; and Town Manager Cliff Graviet.

    The 23-page lawsuit, filed for the five homeowners by attorney Robert Witsil, alleges that there was an agreement made between Christine and Clement Edgar, owners of the Dinker Cottage, and the Town that constitutes “an illegal contract in which the Town bargained away its and its Planning Commission’s duty/responsibility to determine a land-use application.”

    According to the lawsuit, the “preliminary agreement” between the Edgars and the Town, as well as the town council’s unanimous vote in favor of accepting the Edgars’ donation of the house and in favor of its relocation to Maryland Avenue Extended, which occurred a day prior to the Planning Commission’s approval of the Edgars’ application to divide their property into two lots, is evidence of a “smoking gun” of illegal activity.

    The legal action also alleges that the officials violated the Town’s comprehensive plan by approving the relocation of the cottage, because the parcel, which is owned by the Town, is depicted on the town’s land use map as part of a 59-acre area designated for “open space” and “parks and recreation.”

    According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege the Town “invalidly” adopted a separate zoning district in 2003, doing so, they assert, without properly revising the town’s Comprehensive Land Use Maps.

    The district, known as the “Municipal, Open Space, Recreational Facilities & Educational” district (MORE) is not shown on maps associated with the Town’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, according to the suit. (The Coastal Point reported in 2006 that council members had voted 6-0 for a mapping change from the Parks, Recreation & Open Space (PROS) district to the Municipal, Open Space, Recreation & Education (MORE) district, incorporating some previously unlabeled municipal property and additional uses.)

    The fourth count laid out in the lawsuit alleges that the Town violated Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and that such action invalidates the Town’s approval of the Dinker Cottage acquisition.

    The suit alleges the Bethany Beach Town Council and the Town’s Cultural & Historical Affairs Committee failed to properly post agenda items for council meetings and committee meetings at which the donation of the cottage was discussed.

    Phillip Feliciano, one of the five homeowners filing the lawsuit, said he first became aware of the possibility of the Dinker Cottage being moved to the Maryland Avenue Extended property last October, when he noticed stakes had been placed in the ground there. At that point, he said, he filed a FOIA request for information on the property and the Dinker Cottage acquisition but did not receive the information he requested within the two-week window set forth in state law.

    Feliciano said he also believes the classification of the cottage as historic has been improperly handled because the cottage, he said, has been “extensively remodeled” — though, in the town’s comprehensive plan, it is cited as one of only 12 properties of the 141 in the town that had not been substantially renovated, demolished or added to.

    Originally owned by William Dinker, a founder of Bethany Beach, the cottage was moved from its original site east of Route 1 nearly 100 years ago and briefly served as the town’s post office. It has been in Christina Edgar’s family for 85 years.

    Feliciano said he and the other homeowners filing the suit feel they have been ignored throughout the process.

    “Most of my neighbors and myself would have been happy to talk to them about what they wanted to do and what they wanted to accomplish,” Feliciano said.

    “We would like to leave the area open, and we’d like to not put a house there that has potential problems with it,” he said. Feliciano pointed to potential issues with moving the cottage, from structural issues to possible issues with hazardous materials being exposed, including lead paint, during the relocation process.

    Whether the project is wise use of the Town’s funds is another issue of concern, Feliciano said.

    “We question the financial wisdom of the Town spending money on a house that has not been properly declared a historic home,” he said. Graviet had quoted a cost of $45,600 just to move the cottage to the Maryland Avenue Extended location.

    Joseph Tropea, another homeowner listed in the lawsuit, said, “The biggest thing we are trying to accomplish is hoping that it will allow the people on the town council to be a little bit more responsive and transparent.”

    “They want to do this in the dead of winter, when 90 percent of the people are not here,” Tropea said. He also said that he feels some homeowners have the wrong impression of the residents who are fighting the Dinker Cottage move.

    “I think that a lot of people who don’t live in the area have gotten the idea that we think this is our own private playground,” Tropea said of the Town property, which he admitted has been used over the years as open space for neighboring homes.

    Bethany Beach Mayor Jack Gordon said this week that he did not wish to comment on the lawsuit. He said no further action has been taken toward actually moving the cottage since the council voted to approve the acquisition of the cottage and the move to the proposed site on Maryland Avenue Extended in January.

    The council did formally vote March 18 to officially close the property to general vehicular traffic, mirroring the process used when the northern section of Maryland Avenue Extended was added to the property now being developed as “Central Park.”

    This week’s vote also included a provision still allowing access, at the Town’s discretion, to an existing paved/graveled section for use by residents as a cut-through between Hollywood and Parkwood streets. It also allows the public continued access to areas of the property that will remain open even after the cottage is moved.


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    Some local residents were delighted to hear this week that aquaculture may not be coming to all corners of the inland bays. The Department of Natural Resources (DNREC) has eliminated 99 acres of the Indian River and Little Assawoman bays from immediate plans to create a shellfish aquaculture industry in Delaware. Included in that 99 acres of bay now excluded were 24 acres in Beach Cove.

    “We applaud the State for concurring with our support for safe aquaculture in Inland Bay waterways far more suitable than Beach Cove,” wrote David Green and Ralph Begleiter of the Coalition to Save Beach Cove. “We’re pleased that the State has recognized our evidence conclusively demonstrating that commercial shellfishing is inappropriate in Beach Cove.”

    The reduction in Little Assawoman sites is also a win for its neighbors. Although not as publicly vocal, neighborhoods in communities such as Water’s Edge and King’s Grant spoke against the navigation hazard and potential for problems with post-storm debris in their watery back yard. (That aquaculture site has decreased by 55 acres.) The owners of Coastal Kayak voiced similar concerns, and now all 20 aquaculture acres are gone from that map of the bay.

    DNREC announced on Wednesday, March 23, that they are “proceeding with a Statewide Activity Approval (SAA) permitting process that would enable the start-up of limited commercial shellfish aquaculture in Delaware’s Inland Bays by authorizing the permitting of activities in specifically-designated areas intended to help improve water quality and provide new business opportunities.”

    The number of areas now being proposed for SAAs has been reduced, per DNREC’s announcement. Specifically, Beach Cove was highlighted as a location that will not be subject to the SAA process, and the overall number of sites in the Little Assawoman Bay has been reduced.

    “We feel this approach gives consideration to property owners who had concerns about aquaculture in their area and also considered permitting for aquaculturists — who now have a more efficient and expedient approach through the SAA for establishing their operations,” explained DNREC Secretary David Small.

    In 2014, DNREC included in the proposed aquaculture area 24 acres on the shallow seabed of Beach Cove, a nearly-enclosed body of water in the far southeast of the Indian River Bay, on the edge of Cedar Neck Road. The Coalition to Save Beach Cove was built to combat those efforts, and that group ultimately donated volunteer hours and “six figures” worth of donations to hire scientific consultants to get Beach Cove off the aquaculture list.

    The Coalition to Save Beach Cove this week celebrated the fact that the SAA process keeps someone from “fast-tracking” a lease for aquaculture in Beach Cove, though they warned that the possibility still exists for an individual commercial aquaculturist to seek a lease there.

    “But such an individual application — without the benefit of fast-track authority — would, by law, trigger a formal public hearing and notification process, guaranteeing advance notice and allowing prompt and effective public reaction,” said Green and Begleiter. “We believe — and we think state officials agree — that aquaculturists won’t even attempt it, in the face of certain opposition; they have other places to work, unchallenged.”

    Small noted that the SAA also enabled DNREC to address the concerns of residents that came to light after the state’s shellfish aquaculture regulations had been adopted.

    “Likewise, we believe that enough shellfish aquaculture areas will be authorized through the SAA process to give the industry a chance to establish itself,” said Small.

    DNREC officials also announced that they have applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for an expedited federal permit process, which is necessary before they can begin accepting applications for leases in designated shellfish aquaculture areas.

    Maps of these areas can be found on the DNREC website on the “SAA Shellfish Aquaculture Package” at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Fisheries/Pages/ShellfishAquaculture.aspx.


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    Carl M. Freeman Companies recently announced plans for a new 19,000-square-foot fitness center and indoor pool at Bayside Fenwick Island, an award-winning resort golf community in Selbyville. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Friday, April 8, at 10 a.m. on the site of the new amenity, which will be located near the newly-opened Welcome Center at the entrance to the community. Bayside is located on Route 54 at Americana Boulevard.

    This state-of-the-art fitness center, scheduled to open in 2017, includes a 25 yard heated indoor pool, hot tub, men’s and women’s locker rooms each outfitted with sauna options. Included in the plans is a 3,000-square-foot full service fitness and cardio facility, a 600-plus-square-foot aerobics area and a multipurpose room for programming. Permitting is underway and construction will be begin in mid May.

    Plans for use of the new facility space will enable members the opportunity to enjoy group fitness classes, personal training, children’s swim programs, convenient food offerings and so much more.

    “This facility aligns perfectly with the needs of our increasing year-round, health conscious residents in the community. Members can enjoy group fitness classes, personal training, children’s swim programs, convenient food offerings and so much more,” said Chris Garland, senior vice president of development for the Carl M. Freeman Companies. “The indoor pool and fitness center further cements Bayside as one of the most desirable communities at the beach,” he added.

    Bayside Fenwick Island is an award-winning, planned developed by the Carl M. Freeman Companies. The property features an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course managed by Troon Golf, year-round lighted tennis courts, miles of trails for outdoor activities and a private community pier to accommodate water–related activities. The community is home to the Bayside Institute, which offers members the chance to explore fascinating subjects and ignite new passions.

    For more information about Carl M. Freeman Companies, visit www.freemancompanies.com or call (240) 453-3000. For more information about Bayside, visit www.livebayside.com or call (302) 436-9998.


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