ENWICK ISLAND – Citing construction and supplier delays, the town council agreed last week to extend the building permit for a commercial project along Coastal Highway.
Last Friday, the Fenwick Island Town Council voted unanimously to extend a building permit for the new Fenwick Shores hotel on Coastal Highway.
The permit, which expired on July 17, was renewed for another six months at no additional cost.
“I was really hoping to be done by now,” developer Spiro Buas told the council. “Commercial properties are the most difficult to build and hotels are even more complicated. When you get to a first-class hotel of this caliber, it becomes immensely more complicated.”
In 2015, Buas purchased the aging Sands Motel with plans to rebuild a new lodging facility in its place. And in April 2019, the town issued a 15-month building permit for the construction of Fenwick Shores, a Tapestry Collection by Hilton.
According to the town’s charter, building permits can be renewed for an additional six-month period upon payment of 100% of the permit fee, which in this case was $180,000. To that end, Buas requested a hearing in front of the town council last Friday in an effort to extend the building permit and waive the fee requirement.
In a letter issued last week, Building Official Pat Schuchman told the council the town’s charter was amended in 2008 to extend the duration of building permits from 12 months to 15 months. Since that time, two residential building permits had to be renewed due to construction delays.
“No consideration was given at that time for building permits for a commercial project of this size,” she wrote.
In the case of Fenwick Shores, delays in concrete work had pushed the timeline back by months. Buas also noted the supply chain issues that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the installation of cabinetry, carpets and a custom bar top were all delayed because of factory and border closures.
Members of the council noted the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic were beyond the developer’s control and supported the extension of the building permit.
“I have no problem with the request because I understand the COVID effect on everything,” Councilman Gardner Bunting said. “It was basically an act of God.”
Councilwoman Vicki Carmean, however, questioned if the town needed to revisit the charter provision on building permits.
“It’s a difficult situation, but I do think down the road there may be other people building big projects – or even little projects – running into problems, and maybe a renewal for six months is a little much for some people,” she said. “Maybe a prorated thing by month would be good.”
Councilman Bill Weistling, chair of the town’s charter and ordinance committee, suggested the town reconsider the duration of commercial building permits.
“If we do change it, maybe we look at extending the timeline for commercial projects …,” he said. “I would like to see commercial separated from residential for time periods.”
After further discussion, the council voted 7-0 to extend Fenwick Shores’ building permit by six months and to waive any associated fees.
“Within our own town, our objective should be to facilitate him getting the thing completed in the most expeditious manner and open up, so he can start paying town fees and town taxes,” Councilman Mike Houser said.