Fenwick to change beach rules for umbrellas, tents, smoking

It’s a debate that’s been working its way down the Delaware coast. And Fenwick Island is the latest town to consider limiting oversized umbrellas and tents on the beach.

The Fenwick Island Town Council approved on June 23 a first reading of new beach regulations and is expected to vote to enact the ordinance at their July 28 meeting.

“Rehoboth [Beach] and Bethany [Beach] have enacted ordinances restricting beach tents in some manner,” said Councilman Bill Weistling. “Fenwick should be proactive in proceeding with that as well.”

Right now, the beach rules forbid objects that impair lifeguards’ view. But the proposed changes would limit umbrellas to 8 feet in diameter and 8 feet in height. “Tents” would include canopies or similar shading devices and would be limited to either 8 feet in diameter or 10-by-10 feet. They must be open on three sides.

Additionally, tents would have to be spaced at least 10 feet from each other, to allow for public and emergency responders’ movement.

Umbrellas and tents would be also prohibited from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., and those remaining during those hours would be considered abandoned and then removed. As written, the ordinance does not appear to explicitly permit “baby tents,” or very small enclosed, tents for children. However, Weistling said baby tents would be permitted.

The Fenwick Island Beach Patrol would have a right to enforce the rules. They could also remove structures during unsafe weather conditions, such as high winds or storms.

Meanwhile, smoking is already prohibited in town parks and on its beaches. But the council plans to modernize the code to also forbid vapor inhalers, e-cigarettes, marijuana and similar herbs/devices. With Weistling as chair, the Charter & Ordinance Committee plans to finish nailing down the language soon.

In other Fenwick Island Town Council news:

• In Fenwick, parking permit stickers must be attached to the vehicle. Loose stickers that are transferred from car to car will not be accepted, and drivers of vehicles without the stickers attached will receive a parking violation.

“Just follow the rules, and everybody will be happy,” said Police Chief Bill Boyden.

• Some beautiful sunsets can be seen from the bayside, but that means the public are sometime blocking the road at dusk. Residents may call the police officer on duty to request enforcement of parking laws.

• There will be no 2017 election. There were no challengers for the incumbents’ four seats. Mayor Gene Langan, Vice Mayor Richard Mais and Council Members Roy Williams and Julie Lee will have new two-year terms, starting in August.

• Voter eligibility, including the eligibility of trusts, will be discussed at the Charter & Ordinance Committee meeting on Friday, July 7, at 9:30 a.m.

• Although some expenses have been higher than expected, Treasurer Gardner Bunting said he believes the Town could still end the year under budget.

• The 2017 fee schedule was approved, with changes to hearing fees. Applications still have a $750 fee, but town solicitor review costs $1,200. Review by the town solicitor with court stenographer costs $2,000. Those fees more closely align with the Town’s fees paid for each service.

• From now on, installation of mechanical equipment, such as heat pumps, pool pumps and above-ground propane tanks, requires applying to Town Hall for a building permit. Such equipment is prohibited within side-yard setbacks, although it’s permitted in the front and rear setbacks, if screened from view.

The council has also established rules for outdoor commercial pools, hot tubs and spas.

The changes were made to 160-2.B (Definitions and Word Use), 160-4.C (Area Regulations—Residential), 160-5.C (Area Regulations (Commercial) and 160-8.A (General Regulations; Exceptions).

• Fenwick Flicks 2017 will begin July 11, with a free showing of Disney’s “Moana” on the beach at Bayard Street.

• The annual Fenwick Island Society of Homeowners (FISH) meeting will be July 8 at 9 a.m.

• The Fenwick Island Farmers’ Market will be held Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon at Warren’s Station restaurant, 1406 Coastal Highway, until Sept. 8.

• The official Town beach bonfire will be held on July 8 from 7 to 11 p.m. There will be T-shirts, glow sticks, a D.J., games and a silent auction to benefit the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol. The rain date is July 9.

The Fenwick Island Town Council’s next regular meeting is Friday, July 28, at 3:30 p.m.