More Review For Fenwick Parking Changes

FENWICK ISLAND – Community members will have another opportunity to voice their concerns regarding two ordinance amendments involving parking ratios and mechanical equipment.

Citing concerns from the town’s business community, the Fenwick Island Town Council voted unanimously last Friday to hold a second public hearing on two proposed ordinance amendments pertaining to mechanical equipment and off-street parking in the town’s commercial district.

Mayor Natalie Magdeburger noted that while both ordinance amendments passed on first reading in May, business owners have since come before the Fenwick Island Charter and Ordinance Committee to oppose some of the suggested changes, particularly as it pertains to the location of mechanical equipment and the number of parking spaces per square foot.

“I am not going to offer a second reading today,” she said, “and I would suggest we have another hearing to have input from the businesses and residents.”

In a public hearing held in July, several members of the Fenwick Island business community came before the town council to share their opposition to two proposed ordinance amendments involving mechanical equipment and off-street parking. While the changes would apply to new and substantially improved properties, business owners argued the changes were onerous and impacted commercial development.

As proposed, the first ordinance amendment would establish new, more stringent parking ratios and delivery zones for commercial buildings such as restaurants, retail stores and hotels. Under the proposed amendment, for example, parking ratios would change to one per 50 square feet of patron space for restaurants and one per 250 square feet of floor area for retail.

Business owners also took issue with a second proposed ordinance that would, among other things, establish new setback and screening requirements for mechanical equipment and transformers. As written, mechanical equipment would have to be placed on roofs, screened from view and located no closer than 25 feet from the rear setback line.

In a meeting held Aug. 19, the charter and ordinance committee recommended keeping the proposed parking ratios but eliminating the proposed delivery zone requirements.

The committee also recommended eliminating the requirement to place mechanicals on the roof and removing the 25-foot rear setback requirement.

“Those are the suggested modifications,” Magdeburger told the council last week. “With that being said, we need to draft those.”

With approval from the town council, Magdeburger said a public hearing on the two ordinance amendments would be held Sept. 19 at 10 a.m. in town hall.

“We’ve heard from many in the community, both business and residential,” she said. “But we’ve gotten additional information that could be helpful.”

Second readings on the proposed changes, Magdeburger noted, have been deferred pending the outcome of the public hearing.

“We want to get this right,” she said. “We need to find a balance between both the residential community and the business community. We are very supportive of our business community and want to make sure they can be successful. And we are very supportive of our residential community, and we want to make sure they can live in a town they would like to live in.”

She continued, “I’m hoping at this hearing we can get some more ideas and perhaps some folks that are willing to compromise so that we can get this right for Fenwick Island.”

During public comments, Warren’s Station owner Scott Mumford, an outspoken opponent of the proposed parking ratios, thanked the council for scheduling another public hearing.

“Let’s continue this dialogue …,” he said. “The Fenwick Island business community has a lot of concerns about this ordinance. I appreciate you having another hearing.”

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.