Fenwick Committee Reviews Construction Hours

FENWICK ISLAND – Officials say they will begin work on an ordinance amendment that could change construction hours in town.

Last week, members of the Fenwick Island Charter and Ordinance Committee voted unanimously to an ordinance amendment that would prohibit Saturday construction hours between May 15 and Sept. 15. Mayor Natalie Magdeburger, committee chair, said the changes would coincide with the town’s permit requirements for on-street parking and would allow for additional parking during the town’s summer season.

“We’ve had multiple complaints about construction coming in early, being there morning, noon and night, and taking away all the parking spots …,” she said. “We need to, and should, provide access for people to go to the beach. That’s what we’re here for.”

Last week, Magdeburger presented committee members with an ordinance amendment relating to the hours and days of allowable construction work. As proposed, weekday construction hours would conclude at 5 p.m., instead of 6 p.m., and Saturday construction hours would be eliminated.

“The balance is that people want to get their houses done …,” she said. “I think that’s something we need to grapple with.”

Committee member John Nason said he supported changes to Saturday construction hours during the summer months but did not support changes to weekday construction hours.

“I don’t have a problem at all with increasing the hours to 6 o’clock at night,” he said. “At the same time, I also believe permitting construction on Saturday is problematic in terms of providing access to the residents and visitors to the beach, particularly at the street ends.”

Committee member Ben Waide agreed.

“I think cutting it back from 6 o’clock to 5 o’clock and cutting off Saturday is probably too big of a whack …,” he said. “During the season, cutting it back on Saturday is the appropriate thing to do.”

After further discussion, the committee voted unanimously to permit construction between the hours of 8 a.m. through 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with the exception of May 15 through Sept. 15, during which no Saturday construction would be permitted.

“While I see Saturday construction as problematic during the summertime, I wouldn’t have any problem permitting Saturday construction during the offseason,” Nason said, “particularly after Labor Day and before Memorial Day.”

The committee last week also considered a referral that the town restore requirements that residential building plans be reviewed by the Fenwick Island Building Committee before a permit is issued.

“To be honest, I’m really concerned because I think we do a really good job with reviewing those permits and getting them out the door and back to people who need them,” Magdeburger said. “I think this would really slow things down.”

Town Manager Pat Schuchman noted that while the building committee used to review residential building permit applications, the ordinance was changed in recent years. Those plans are now reviewed by the building official, town manager and, informally, by the chair of the building committee.

“I don’t see a reason to reimplement that requirement when that would require a meeting with seven-day notice for each building permit,” she said.

Committee members agreed.

“I think our report back to council should be that we believe the code as written provides for additional review internally, but that it doesn’t need to be rewritten,” Magdeburger said.

Committee members last week also reviewed parking ratios for mixed-used buildings where there is a change of use.

“My personal belief is we need more information about this,” Magdeburger said, “and I would actually like to communicate with some of the business owners who have mixed-use buildings in town to see what they do and how they make decisions regarding who is going to rent.”

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.