Fenwick Council Approves Freeboarding, Height Regs

FENWICK ISLAND – Officials in Fenwick Island last week agreed to several ordinance changes that address freeboarding and residential height restrictions.

Last week, the Fenwick Island Town Council approved on second reading ordinance amendments that would require a one-foot freeboard and better define height regulations in the town’s residential zone.

The town agreed to reevaluate its ordinance on freeboarding earlier this year after it was announced the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System (CRS) – a voluntary incentives program – would update its manual in 2020 and that town policy holders would lose 5 percent of their flood insurance discount if the town did not implement a mandatory one-foot freeboard – or elevation – on new construction.

Currently, buildings in Fenwick Island can exceed the town’s height limit by up to 24 inches to accommodate freeboarding, although the practice itself is voluntary.

To that end, the council voted 6-0, with Councilwoman Vicki Carmean absent, to approve an ordinance amendment that would reflect changes to the CRS manual.

“We are changing our ordinance to incorporate those changes,” said Bill Weistling, chair of the town’s charter and ordinance committee.

The council on Tuesday also voted unanimously to make several changes to height regulations in the town’s residential zone.

“We had a public hearing prior to this meeting for all of these changes,” Weistling said, “and we received no public comments.”

The amendments will include mechanical equipment – with the exception of one residential weather station – into the calculation of the building’s height, limit the height of flagpoles to 32 feet, and authorize the town manager, building official or their designee to enforce zoning provisions.

At the request of the town council, the charter and ordinance committee began its review of town height regulations earlier this year after it was discovered mechanical equipment was not defined as a structure in the town’s ordinance and, therefore, could not be enforced in the height restrictions.

While the approved ordinance changes address residential height regulations, members of the charter and ordinance committee are still working alongside town officials to discuss possible exemptions to the town’s commercial height regulations. The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for January.

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.