FENWICK ISLAND – Fenwick Island officials agreed last week to relax special event requirements for another summer season as COVID-19 recovery efforts continue.
Last week, the Fenwick Island Town Council voted unanimously to temporarily relax special event requirements in the town’s code in an effort to assist businesses open their doors and maintain safe physical distancing.
“It’s very similar to the resolution we had last year,” Town Manager Terry Tieman said. “The exception is we are actually following and adhering exactly to the state of Delaware’s guidelines. Last year, our guidelines were a little bit stricter.”
As part of the resolution approved last week, permits for a summer 2021 special event will be available to town businesses and will be required for outdoor events in the commercial zone. The resolution requires outdoor seating areas and sidewalk display areas be located at least 20 feet away from front and side property lines, and they cannot block sidewalks and passageways. In addition, seating for restaurants offering outdoor seating cannot occupy more than 20% of the total parking spaces available.
Businesses seeking a permit for the coming summer season must submit an application with detailed drawings and plans for physical distancing and sanitation practices. The town will not collect fees for a special event permit.
Tieman reiterated to town council members that any federal and state guidance would take precedence over guidelines established in the resolution.
“Because of the situation we are in now with the pandemic, things are changing rapidly …,” she said. “We’re not doing anything they’re not asking us to do. We’re doing exactly what they’re saying.”
Councilman Richard Mais said he supported the changes.
“I think being in line with what the state requires would be good,” he said. “I think it’s confusing to go from Delaware to Maryland with what’s allowed and what’s not. I think the simpler we can make it, the better.”
With no further discussion, the council voted unanimously to relax its special event requirements from April 1 to Nov. 1.
The council this week also voted to cancel the town’s annual bonfire, but not before agreeing to reevaluate the decision in the coming months.
“I’m not saying it’s impossible to do the bonfire,” Tieman said, “just very difficult under the protocols we would have to adhere to at this point.”
Councilman Bill Weistling noted a potentially busy summer season could make distancing even more difficult.
“People have been cooped up the last year,” he said. “I think this summer is going to be a boom down here in Fenwick. It could be a major crowd event on the beach.”