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Lewes, Delaware
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January 16, 1998     Cape Gazette
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14 - CAPE GAZETYE, Friday, January 16- January 22, 1998 Dewey Beach gives nod to motel, rental rate increases By Jen Ellingsworth Dewey Beach commissioners unanimously voted to approve fee increases for motels and residen- tial rental properties at the month- ly town meeting on Saturday, Jan. 10. The increases will generate $43,000 in revenues for the town and will help cover a projected $48,000 budget shortfall. Commissioners adopted the $1.4 million budget, proposed by Town Manager Bill Rutherford, last month. Under the new law, motels must pay a $300 fiat rate plus $40 per room vs. the prior rate of $100 and $10 per room. The fee for residential rentals is now $60 for the first two bed, rooms and $30 for each additional bedroom vs. the old rate of $40 for the first two bedrooms and $ I 0 for each additional bedroom. Bed and breakfast establishments are not included in the increase. While the Dewey Beach town charter prohibits a general proper- ty tax, the town has the authority to impose regulator user fees. Dewey Beach Mayor Bob Fred- erick, who sent out a press release last week outlining the town,s po- sition, supports the decision to raise the fees because of the im- pact motels and rental properties have on police, lifeguard and trash expenses. "Unlike Rehoboth, Fenwick Is- land and Bethany Beach who have skeleton police crews on duty from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, Dewey has about 25 officers on patrol during the summer season,, states a por- tion of the press release. "We are forced to staff heavily during this period because we have eight of the largest bars/restaurants in the Delaware operating in Dewey plus 14 motels that bring in thou- sands of tourists into town. These businesses and tourists are using our services." The rate hike did not pass with- out opposition from motel owners and from the chamber of corn- merce. "We talked with most of the ac- commodations in town and want to go on record as the chamber that we think the fee is too high," said Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce Ex- ecutive Director Carol lverhart. "They [motel owners] were hop- ing, as the chamber does, that you will look into other means of rais- ing the money." The chamber recommended that the town consider obtaining funds by building a public boat launch and charging a fee for its use, pro- viding easier access to parking permits to boost sales and charg- ing fees for youth recreation pro- grams. Rutherford said the Dewey Beach charter does not allow for the town to charge fees for the use of its beach. Everhart said the chamber is willing to work with the town to amend its charter. Youth recreation programs are on the horizon for Dewey Beach, though. Commissioners approved Angle Moon photo The Town of Dewey Beach has increased the regulatory fee for motels within the town limits. a junior lifeguard program, which will be spearheaded by lifeguard captain Todd Fritchman. The pro- gram also received support from the chamber. Ken Simpler, owner of Atlantic View Motel on Clayton Street, said he understands that the town needs to make the increase but is concerned because the amount of the increase is so dramatic. "We've had an increase," he said. "Just don't look to us next year to increase again." Dewey police liaison committee meets, names Kloepfer chair By Yen Ellingsworth The Dewey Beach Law Enforcement Li- aison Committee, a group poised to field police-related concerns, met for the first time on Saturday, Jan. 10. The committee volleyed questions, dis- cussed procedure and elected one of its members, William Kloepfer Jr., as chair- man. Kloepfer, a retired senior vice president of the Tobacco Institute in Washington, D.C., said he'll write a specific position statement for the group to be included in the town's spring mailing, along with the phone number of each member. The membership of the committee is made up of a sampling of the town's citi- zens who are all from different professional backgrounds and who were all chosen by Mayor Bob Frederick in October 1997. Be- sides Kloepfer, mem- bers include Cindy Dukes, Bobbi Turk, Bill Wright and Bill Zolper. While no issues have come before the committee yet, its members are gearing up to respond to those who file their com- KLOEPFER ments in the form of letters submitted to the Town Hall. Committee members will serve as listen- ing posts for the complainants and provide recommendations. Complaints will be reviewed by the group only after their cases have been adju- dicated. The Dewey Beach Police Department was put under intense scrutiny last summer, especially during the time surrounding the town election. Members of the liaison committee said they hope that the group can function in a preventative capacity, and help to maintain a positive image for the town and its police department. "Our focus should be on how to improve the perception of the town's police depart- ment," said Wright, an attorney. "We'll serve as a P.R. [public relations] kind of group." Wright said he hopes the liaison commit- tee can provide a forum in which people feel comfortable to talk about police issues. The group is not only on hand to field corn- plaints about the police department, but al- so positive comments, said members. "Could this committee also listen to fa- vorable comments?" asked Kloepfer, "I think they should be encouraged." "It could result in a positive forum as well," said Frederick, an ex-officio member of the committee. Chief Ray Morrison, who was present at the meeting in lieu of technical resource Sergeant Sam Mackert (who is also an ex- officio member), said he is fully supportive of the committee and its mission. "I think that this is well-needed," said Morrison. "If anything about the police department makes us less user-friendly, I want to know about it. I want people to walk away with a good feeling when they leave here." Changes ahead for Dewey's disorderly house law By Jen EUingsworth Dewey Beach officials are working together to strengthen the town's existing "Disorderly Hous- es" law. Atthe Saturday, Jan. I0, town meeting, Dewey Beach Town At- torney Robert Witsil read a draft of an ordinance which would amend and rename the existing "Disorderly Houses" section of its municipal code. Commissioners deemed it nec- essary for the town to revisit the law, an ordinance on the books since 1988, because of issues brought forth in the September election. Many felt the old law was too vague and difficult to properly en- force. In preparing the draft, renamed "Disorderly Use of Dwellings," Witsil said he looked at codes en- forced in similar resort communi- ties, such as College Park, Md.; Newark; and Ocean City, Md. He said he feels confident the revision was needed and that the new edition ot the law will make it easier to un- derstand and enforce. "I honestly- feel that this is a stream- lined and simplified version of the previous ordi- nance, which, WI'rSlL quite frankly, had many extraneous and repeti- tive provisions included in it," said Witsil. Commissioners will vote on the ordinance at next month's meet- ing, Saturday, Feb. 14, at 9 a.m., .at the Sunnyside Up Caf6 in Rud- dertowne. The draft ordinance states that those individuals occupying a dwelling unit are considered dis- orderly if the sound level exceeds 65 decibels, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. or 55 decibels, from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. It also includes provisions for officers to use sound meters, at their discretion, to determine a noise disturbance. Town Manager Bill Rutherford said the town will purchase three sound meters, which will be used by full- time officers who are trained and certified to use such de- vices. In addition, the "reason- RUTHERFORD able person of normal sensibilities" portion of the existing code now provides an updated definition of "person" to include Dewey Beach Police offi- cers. The draft also includes a li- censing violation, which provides the town the ability to revoke the to two or more" consecutive viola- rental license of any owner, agent tions of the ordinance within a or agent of an owner subsequent year. Bad drivers, poor signage, bus lanes dominate list of cycling concerns By Michael Short A Sussex County working group on bicycling will be formed. That was the outcome of a meeting on Wednesday of the Delaware Bicycle Council. The statewide council met at Del Tech and considered a host of issues re- lated to bicycling. Most of the issues were expect- ed, but one of the most prominent was the criticism that bicycling is not given enough attention in Sus- sex County. "I think it is an excit- ing idea," said Liz Holloway, Delaware's bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. "One of the problems we have had with the council is that it is a statewide group." Mike Tyler complained about the lack of signs or road markings for bicycling advocates. "We feel we are being ignored," he said. Larry Wonderlin, another cy- clist, said that drivers need to get the message that safety is para- mount. Citing the recent injury to a bicyclist near Lewes, he said "they have got to give us some room. Inattentive driving is not an excuse." Holloway said that Delaware's Department of Transportation (DelDOT) can include money for intersection upgrades to improve detectors at intersections so that Continued on page 15