South Bethany News
Town of South Bethany, Delaware
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It was a pioneering effort, but South Bethany’s canal diffuser experiment was a wash.
After a two-year study, air diffusers placed in the Petherton Drive canal have not significantly increased the dissolved oxygen in the nearly stagnant dead-ends of the canal.
“We did this as an experiment, because we thought it would increase dissolved oxygen,” said George Junkin, town council member and a champion of water quality in the town’s canals. “There was no significantly measureable increase in the canals.”
Using the neighboring Anchorage Drive and Brandywine Drive canals as a control, the Town tested regularly at three different depths in the shallow canals fed by the Little Assawoman Bay.
Police reported this week that alcohol was a factor in an incident that began as a missing-person case and ended with a severely injured police officer.
On Aug. 8, the South Bethany Police Department responded to a report of a missing person. When officers arrived on scene, it turned out to concern a 25-year-old white man who had left his friends to swim in the bay, said Cpl. Patrick Wiley, public information officer for the SBPD.
He was afloat at the southern tip of town, between the Plymouth canal and the Bayview Park community, Wiley said.
Gov. Jack Markell on Wednesday joined DNREC Secretary David Small, federal highway officials and community leaders and groups, to cut the ribbon officially opening the new Assawoman Canal Trail. The one-mile trail is part of a regional network of trails, sidewalks and pathways for pedestrians and bicyclists, physically linking communities that share a boundary with the trail.
“This trail is only possible because of the hard work and commitment of engaged community members who recognize that this is an opportunity to enhance the quality of life in Sussex County,” said Markell.
“It was residents in Ocean View, Bethany and South Bethany neighborhoods who saw the value of creating a trail along the Assawoman Canal and worked together with the State to turn their vision into a reality. They share our belief that investments in our trails and pathways support our overall health and wellbeing, while helping to grow our economy.”
In the works for seven years, the trail will directly connect the municipalities of Ocean View, Bethany Beach and South Bethany, and the communities of Sea Colony and Bahamas Beach Cottages.
A concept plan, developed with a team of local residents, was released in 2011, after public outreach. Project partners included Ocean View, Bethany Beach and South Bethany, residents in Bahamas Beach Cottages, Sea Colony, Salt Pond and Waterside, and DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation.
Imagine a medium-sized wooden box, standing outdoors on a pole, in all kinds of weather. Inside, two-dozen portals can whisk people away to new worlds, from the mysterious to the fantastic.
This box is the Little Free Library (LFL), and it just got a second location in South Bethany.
“It’s been up 10 days, and it’s very active,” said Sue Callaway, town council member and Community Enhancement Committee chair. “It went along with the whole idea of enhancing Ocean Drive.”
Dedicated on July 30, Little Free Library East is located on a major pedestrian route, at the corner of S. 3rd Street and Ocean Drive.
“Once we realized how successful the one in the west was, we began planning,” Callaway explained, noting that Frank Weisgerber, who is now a council member, had offered to build another one on the east side.
Adults and children are encouraged to borrow a book from the library, eventually returning it or another good read. It all works on the honor system — no library cards or signatures required.
Instructions for sharing books can be found at the LFL, as well as on bookmarks donated by the South Bethany Police Department.
Boatlifts seem to be popping up all around South Bethany. But there are no zoning regulations on these structures, from the size to the number a person can build.
At its July 23 workshop, the town council appointed an ad-hoc group to study boatlifts and floating docks. It will present research and recommendations, and the council can then decide whether to take future action.
Members of the ad-hoc group include Dick Oliver, Jack Whitney, Joe Conway (chairperson) and Dave Wilson.
Although the four men are all members of the Planning Commission, they said this is not a committee under that commission.
Meanwhile, discussions are just beginning for a potential town hall and police station expansion.
It took about 2.5 hours for the South Bethany Town Council to cover regular business at their meeting on July 10, when discussions ranged from zoning to law enforcement and touched more than briefly on the continuing controversy over FEMA flood plain designations.
Annual tour featuring 10 local homes July 22-23
The South Bethany Police Department this week was investigating an assault that occurred just after midnight on Sunday, July 5. According to the SBPD, officers were dispatched around 12:48 a.m. last Sunday after they received reports that a man had been attacked in the area of 127 Canal Drive.
A number of sightings near ocean beaches over the holiday weekend and the subsequent washing ashore of several Portuguese man o’ war this week prompted DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation Natural Resources Police to issue a caution statement urging people to avoid the stinging jellyfish relatives that are rare tropical visitors to the Delaware coast.
South Bethany’s committees have been the topic of minor debate recently, so the town council decided to take an official look at their policy on June 25, by creating one.
South Bethany Town Hall may never have seemed so small when 100 people tried to fit inside for a public meeting about the future of local flood mapping. Most of them wanted to know exactly why their flood-risk designation changed, and what they can do about it.
The South Bethany Town Council has a plan to get more public involvement. They voted, 6-1, on May 30 to request that Delaware General Assembly amend the South Bethany town charter to permit chairs of town committees to be individuals who are not council members.
But one morning of discussion about the issue was not enough for Councilman George Junkin, who gave the only vote against requesting the change.
“I have a problem with 10 minutes of discussion going to the state legislature,” he said, looking at the May 30 agenda, which allotted that amount of time to the issue.
“We haven’t discussed this and the ramifications,” said Junkin, adding that he wished the Charter & Code Committee had reviewed the proposal beforehand.
In a South Bethany election with a broad slate of candidates, three new council members have been elected: Carol Stevenson (200 votes), Wayne Schrader (192) and Frank Weisgerber (173). They are filling three seats for which the incumbents did not seek reelection.
Three seats on the South Bethany Town Council will be up for election on May 23. Voters have their pick of six candidates: Elizabeth Baker, Don Boteler, Joel Danshes, Wayne Schrader, Carol Stevenson and Frank Weisgerber. None of the incumbents ran for re-election this year.
Each council term is two years.
Plenty has happened around the community over the off-season. In case you’ve been out of town, or have just been too busy to stay on top of things, here are some of the items that could most affect your summer season.
The Gardeners by the Sea club will hold its third annual hydrangea sale this Mother’s Day weekend. The sale will be held on Saturday, May 9, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in front of McCabe’s Gourmet Market in the York Beach Mall in South Bethany. If the club does not sell out of plants on Saturday, they will be selling the remainder on Sunday, May 10, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
At this year’s sale, “toddler” and “teen” hydrangeas will be sold to the public — offering a gift-shopping opportunity for plant-loving mothers.
“We have different sizes this year. They start at $8, and the larger ones will be a little bit more, but not to exceed $16,” said Lisa Arni, who created the sale three years ago. “We have the chemicals to make the hydrangeas ‘pink for girls’ and ‘blue for boys,’ and we’re going to wrap them in pink or blue, and will give out an adoption paper.”
New this year to the sale will be the attendance of a Master Gardener, who will answer any questions those attending may have.
“We’re going to have a Master Gardner at the sale to answer any questions about the hydrangeas or any other gardening questions, which we haven’t had in the past. They can really ask anything when they come,” said Arni, who is a Master Gardener herself.
Delaware has nearly 300 Master Gardeners — who collectively volunteer more than 20,000 hours per year to the Delaware Cooperative Extension’s home horticulture program.
In South Bethany, a green thumb also means blue waters. Volunteers donned gardening gloves on Earth Day to landscape along the Anchorage Canal. Located next to Route 1, the canal’s forebay needed some love. The South Bethany Community Enhancement Committee and other townspeople “adopted” the canal end on April 22, planting everything from holly to petunias and native grasses.
Councilwoman Sue Callaway paused from scooping buckets of mulch to talk about the projects.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said, expressing her gratitude to all the volunteers working nearby. She emphasized the importance of “just being involved in your community.”
For three years now, the CEC has tackled a different site each Earth Day. It also sponsors the Town’s Adopt-A-Canal program, in which volunteers maintain landscaping on canal ends in their own neighborhoods.
The South Bethany Town Council has been looking under people’s houses lately. But homeowner’s should get upset over privacy concerns — the council is researching a new ordinance, which would affect lattice and boards around the open space under houses.
The April 10 council meeting revolved around houses’ floor-area ratio (FAR).
The South Bethany Town Council will see some new faces after the May 23 election. Six residents are currently competing for three seats, but councilmembers Tony Caputo, Jim Gross and Al Rae did not file for reelection. The positions carry a two-year term.
Pending their eligibility reviews on April 17, candidates include Elizabeth Baker, Don Boteler, Joel Danshes, Wayne Schrader, Carol Stevenson and Frank Weisgerber. (William Bombright withdrew shortly after filing.)
Absentee ballots are available for any resident unable to vote at Town Hall on May 23. To request an absentee ballot, residents should contact Town Hall for an affidavit. After that is returned, a ballot will be mailed. They can also visit Town Hall in person to complete both forms during regular operating hours. Absentee ballots must be filed with the Town no later than 3 p.m. on election day.
Mid-Atlantic survey first step in oil/gas drilling
Two Texas companies have requested permission to perform surveys off the Delaware coast for potential oil and gas reserves. GX Technology Corporation and Spectrum Geo Inc. applied for permits to do deep-penetration seismic surveys on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf.
Just weeks before new flood maps were to be enacted in South Bethany, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has agreed to wind back the clock. FEMA has rescinded the “final determination” that previously raised the base flood elevation (BFE) for oceanfront homes in the town, at the Town’s urging and under pressure from Delaware’s Congressional delegation.
BFE is the elevation to which floodwaters are expected to rise during a 100-year flood. For years, Ocean Drive had a BFE of 12 feet. Houses had to be built starting no lower than that elevation or pay high flood-insurance premiums.
FEMA considered lowering several South Bethany zones (most notably Ocean Drive to VE-10) during a large-scale rewrite of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) in August of 2013. However, a councilmember’s “inquiry” about the lightened restrictions caused FEMA to actually up the BFE, to 13 feet instead of 10.
South Bethany may have a budget shortfall of about $1,500 in its proposed 2016-fiscal-year budget, “but we know where to find it,” said Town Council Treasurer Tim Saxton.
On Feb. 26, he presented to the council a “fully loaded” draft budget, which included savings, new expenses and a 4.1 percent pay increase for employees.
The love of your life has just kneeled on one knee and asked for your hand in marriage… But now what?
Many dream of having a beach wedding, where the vastness of the sea mirrors their love for one and other, but the logistics of planning can be difficult.
Enter Delaware Seaside Bride. With a website — DelawareSeasideBride.com — and yearly print magazine that will launch March 6, 2015, Delaware Seaside Bride will be your guide to planning your dream day, surrounded by the beauty of the Delaware beaches.
Town council elections are approaching in South Bethany, so candidate and voter registration has begun. Three positions are up for voting in the 2015 election, scheduled for May 23. Terms are for two years. Those council seats are currently held by Tony Caputo, Jim Gross and Al Rae.
South Bethany has tugged at its Congressional connections in an effort to induce FEMA to reconsider the proposed Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) — or rather, to disregard South Bethany’s previous communication on the matter.