Fenwick Extends Hotel Moratorium

FENWICK ISLAND – Officials in Fenwick Island last week agreed to extend a two-year moratorium on hotel construction another two years.

Last Friday, the Fenwick Island Town Council voted to extend a moratorium, or a ban, on the construction of new hotels for another two years.

On Feb. 26 of 2016, the council voted to establish a moratorium on new hotel construction following extensive debate regarding the Sands Motel. Developer Spiro Buas purchased the motel with plans to renovate and expand the existing structure. In doing so, he proposed an ordinance change to the town code that would allow for one motel room per 600 square feet instead of one motel room every 1,000 feet.

The proposed ordinance would allow the Sands to expand from 38 rooms to 65 rooms.

Despite the outcry from nearby residents, the council voted 5-2 to approve the ordinance. However, Councilwoman Julie Lee afterwards suggested a two-year moratorium on the issue until the town’s comprehensive plan was implemented. As part of the moratorium, the town would not issue permits, licenses or other approvals involving new motel and hotel uses.

“In light of ongoing debate about whether to expand the total number of motel-hotel uses in the town and because the Comprehensive Plan update process may result in comprehensive and/or significant changes to the permitted land uses within the Commercial Zone, the Town Council deems it to be in the best interest of the Town to maintain the status quo of existing motel-hotel uses during the Comprehensive Plan update process,” the moratorium reads.

“The Town Council finds that maintaining the status quo of existing motel-hotel uses by placing a moratorium upon the issuance of any permit, license or other approval for or involving new motel/hotel uses in the Town for a period of two years is the minimum time period necessary for the Town to complete the Comprehensive Plan update process and the period of plan implementation that often follows said process.”

While the moratorium expires Feb. 26 of this year, Mayor Gene Langan last week suggested the council extend the moratorium another two years while the town’s stakeholders consider the effects of a proposed new hotel in Fenwick Island.

“My recommendation would be that we extend it for two more years and have it expire Feb. 26 of 2020,” he said.

Councilwoman Vicki Carmean supported the extension. “I think it’s good to extend it,” she said. “I agree with my other councilmembers.”

With no further discussion, the council voted unanimously to extend the moratorium another two years.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.