FENWICK ISLAND – A Fenwick Island committee has agreed to table an ordinance amendment on shuttle services after questions about the legality of prohibiting low-speed vehicles were brought to light.
Last Friday, the Fenwick Island Charter and Ordinance Committee convened to discuss a proposed amendment to the town’s ordinance on shuttle services. While the town code prohibits shuttle services, the committee was asked to review the ordinance and suggest changes that clarify the definition and use of a shuttle service.
“I think all of us agree we don’t want a shuttle service coming in and dropping off people on our streets,” said Councilman Bill Weistling, committee chair.
Officials say the draft amendment, presented at the committee level last week, would do two things – prohibit low-speed vehicles, golf carts and similar vehicles on town streets and roadways and prohibit shuttle services on town streets and roadways with exceptions for senior and handicapped vans.
Town Manager Terry Tieman said the town was approached by a business looking to operate a shuttle service in Fenwick. She said the proposed amendment came after a review of the town code and discussions with the town attorney, police chief and building official.
“After reviewing what we reviewed, we do not think Fenwick Island is a suitable place for that type of service,” she said.
Committee member Reid Tingle said he supported the prohibition of shuttle services, but did not understand the proposed restriction on low-speed vehicles.
“Shuttle service is one thing, but to completely ban street vehicles under the guise of a shuttle service I find completely shocking that got stuck under the same ordinance …,” he said. “Delaware code does not allow you to restrict them. They are state licensed vehicles.”
Weistling explained the proposed amendment addressed two concerns the town had from the business owner’s request.
“The reason we addressed all this under shuttle service is because the request came from a person who wanted to use low-speed vehicles as a shuttle service,” he said. “That’s why we wrapped the two together.”
He suggested, however, that Tingle’s concerns be brought to the town attorney.
“I think we should not proceed any further on this today,” he said.
After further discussion, the committee agreed to table its discussion on shuttle services. Members, however, expressed their support for prohibiting shuttle services in town.
“I asked what is the necessity,” said Councilman Mike Houser. “I just don’t see it, either in terms of outside amenities bringing people in the town or shuttle services inside the town. I’m not in favor.”
Councilman Bernie Merritt agreed.
“I think it opens it up to a slippery slope,” he said.
In the public comments portion of last Friday’s meeting, residents also shared their concerns.
“Everyone I’ve talked to in my neighborhood is 100% against any type of shuttle service running in town,” resident Roy Williams said.
Councilwoman Vicki Carmean, chair of the town’s Pedestrian Safety Committee, said she was concerned shuttle services would pose a safety threat for those entering and exiting a shuttle vehicle.
“We don’t have sidewalks,” she said. “That makes transportation on a shuttle very dangerous.”
Resident Gail Warburton agreed.
“I don’t see it’s of any benefit to Fenwick,” she said, “to the residents at least.”
Mark Tingle, however, said most coastal communities in Delaware had shuttle services.
“We’ve made an issue out of something I don’t even see,” he said.