Fenwick Council Approves Amendments On First Reading

FENWICK ISLAND – Ordinance amendments involving low-speed vehicles, holiday construction hours, and parking were approved on first reading last week.

Last Thursday, the Fenwick Island Town Council voted to accept the first reading of a slew of ordinance amendments, including an addition to prohibit low-speed vehicles on town streets.

Councilwoman Natalie Magdeburger, chair of the town’s charter and ordinance committee, said the prohibition – which exempts construction equipment, lawnmowers, emergency vehicles and assistive mobility devices – was developed based on a proposed ordinance from the previous town council and supported by Police Chief John Devlin and Town Manager Pat Schuchman.

“Chief Devlin had done a great deal of work and vehemently said it was a bad idea,” she told the council. “Although nothing has happened to date, there’s a lot of historical information out there from other jurisdictions that have permitted it that resulted in catastrophic loss of life and injury. He certainly thought that having a no low-speed ordinance would be in Fenwick’s best interest, and I believe that is also something that’s been shared by Town Manager Schuchman as well.”

Devlin asserted the use of low-speed vehicles on town streets not only posed a safety risk, but could set a precedent.

“If you allow them, you also open the door to numerous low-speed vehicles, like golf carts,” he said, “privately owned and shuttles.”

After further discussion, the council voted 6-0, with Councilman Richard Benn absent, to approve the amendment on first reading.

The council last week also voted to approve the first reading of an amendment listing town-designated holidays. The proposal, Magdeburger said, would clarify any prohibitions on construction hours.

“The previous ordinance just said that no construction shall take place on any Sunday or holiday,” she said. “We have many holidays that are the day before a real holiday or the day after a real holiday, and this will clarify the code so that it is consistent with the big six (holidays).”

The proposed amendment stems from a situation that occurred on Dec. 31, when construction crews throughout town were ordered to halt work after it was mistakenly believed to be a holiday. The amendment would now list town holidays as New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

“I think this is a great idea, especially since there was so much confusion and negativity surrounding this over New Year’s Day,” said Councilwoman Jacque Napolitano.

Magdeburger last week also introduced a first reading on a proposed zoning amendment that would require all mechanical equipment to be screened, and to prohibit mechanicals in the rear setback of the commercial district.

“Residential properties have to have a 10-foot setback from their rear mechanicals to anything behind them,” she said. “This is going to maintain that for the commercial district as well.”

With no further discussion, a motion to approve the first reading passed unanimously. The town council also voted to approve the first reading of an amendment prohibiting commercial parking on residential property, with the exception of home occupations and professional offices lawfully located on a lot in the residential zone.

“We’ve gone through counsel and we are aware of four areas in town that have had those non-conforming uses,” Magdeburger added. “That would not be affected by this.”

Second readings of the proposed code revisions will be held on March 4, following a public hearing on low-speed vehicles, mechanical equipment and residential parking.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

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.