Fenwick Committee Eyes Ordinance Revisions

Fenwick Committee Eyes Ordinance Revisions
Photo by Bethany Hooper

FENWICK ISLAND – Discussions on parking ratios, construction hours and rental tax categories highlighted this week’s meeting of the Fenwick Island Charter and Ordinance Committee.

On Tuesday, officials met to consider potential ordinance amendments referred to the charter and ordinance committee.

Mayor Natalie Magdeburger, committee chair, noted one of the suggestions is to review parking ratios in mixed-use buildings when there is a change of use.

“We need to see if this is even an issue,” she said. “This is something we should dig into a little bit and have a more robust discussion.”

In recent months, members of the Fenwick Island business community have asked the town to reconsider a proposed ordinance on parking ratios in the commercial district. One of the issues brought forth was that the proposed ordinance would prohibit the landlords of mixed-use properties from leasing to restaurants and other businesses that would require additional parking accommodations.

On Tuesday, Magdeburger recommended the committee do more research and revisit the issue at its next meeting.

“When you look at other jurisdictions, strip centers are different from standalone buildings …,” she explained. “That’s the idea. Shared parking ratios are different than what parking ratios would be for a standalone building.”

The committee this week also discussed a change in the hours and days in which construction would be permitted during the summer season.

“I will say this is a reasonable ordinance change,” said Town Manager Pat Schuchman, “because the last few years we’ve had a lot of complaints about construction.”

Magdeburger noted that construction was currently permitted between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and prohibited during major holidays. The recommendation is to limit construction hours between May 15 and Sept. 15 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and to prohibit construction on Saturdays and Sundays during that time.

“I think we also need to define what is construction,” she said. “Not just hammers and nails, but picking up dumpsters, porta-potties, anything that involves the construction site.”

When asked why the town is considering a change in construction times, Magdeburger noted that it was the result of parking and noise complaints.

“Those are the two issues we heard loud and clear,” she replied.

When asked if the proposed amendment would still allow homeowners to do construction projects at their residence, Schuchman said it would.

“The current ordinance covers that,” she said.

Magdeburger noted construction hours would be extended to 6 p.m. and include Saturday hours once the summer season ended.

Committee members this week also discussed a proposed change to rental tax categories. Magdeburger said the suggestion is to change the wording of rental tax categories from hotel, commercial and residential to hotel, long-term and short-term.

“We thought it would be better to change the names,” she said.

While the names of categories would change, Magdeburger noted that tax rates would not. Hotels tax rates would remain at 3.5% and short-term rental tax rates would be set at 8%.

“Anyone who rents a house year-round and anyone who rents from a commercial property owner would remain at 4%,” Schuchman added.

Committee members this week also agreed to consider an ordinance amendment restoring a requirement that residential plans be reviewed by the Fenwick Island Building Committee prior to issuing permits. Committee members also agreed to review requirements for property owners for once an occupancy permit has been issued.

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.