Comprehensive Plan Approved

FENWICK ISLAND – A draft comprehensive plan will advance to the state for review following a favorable vote last week.

Last Friday, the Fenwick Island Town Council voted to approve the comprehensive plan as a final draft and permit the Fenwick Island Planning Commission to submit the document to the Delaware Preliminary Land Use Service (PLUS) for review.

“It is a 10-year plan, and it is the plan for the town,” said Susan Brennan, commission chair. “I think it is usable and digestible and understandable.”

Last year, the town council agreed to hire consultants to assist the planning commission in rewriting Fenwick Island’s comprehensive plan. And in the months since, officials have worked with University of Delaware Institution for Public Administration advisors to collect data, maps and demographics and develop a vision for the town’s future.

“The reason for this choice was that, in accordance with Delaware code … at least every five years a municipality shall review its adopted plan to determine if its provisions are still relevant, given changing conditions in the municipality or in surrounding areas,” Brennan told the council last week. “This particular part was really important and was part of the decision to create a 10-year plan.”

As part of the planning process, the commission also hosted listening sessions and symposiums and launched a public survey, the results of which were reviewed by the planning commission in April. Officials say the town received responses from 338 part-time residents, 105 full-time residents, 13 business owners, and 26 visitors. The survey results, which were used to shape the town’s draft comprehensive plan, highlighted community members’ opposition to wind turbines, their concerns about bayside flooding, and their desires to maintain the town’s quiet, family oriented character, among other things.

“All of these engagement opportunities, conversations, feedback, survey results and even the photographs a the photo contest were used to help create this plan,” she said.

Brennan told the council last week the planning commission began drafting the town’s new comprehensive planning document in January. And earlier this month, the commission held a special meeting to present the draft to property owners.

“The presentation was a high-level summary of the contents within the plan,” she explained.

Brennan noted the plan not only highlighted the history and community profile of Fenwick Island, but addressed issues, goals and recommendations for the town. She pointed out that public comments gathered from engagement opportunities were also included in the draft document.

“As members of the planning commission, we were and are tasked with being the community’s voice or compass relative to the future planning of the town and preservation of what we all love …,” she said. “Public engagement is critical to the plan.”

However, Brennan said the commission was not finished. She pointed out commission members would be available at the town’s 70th birthday celebration on July 1.

“This has been a terrific process, but we are not over …,” she said. “We will have a table there, and we love to talk about the comprehensive plan.”

For his part, Councilman Richard Benn applauded commission members for their efforts in drafting the comprehensive plan.

“This is homegrown, home-written and reflects the character and charm of Fenwick Island …,” he said. “It is the basis for all our zoning decisions.”

Councilwoman Jacque Napolitano agreed.

“This encompasses our town, who we are and what we want to be,” she said, “a quiet resort.”

The council ultimately voted 5-0, with Councilman Paul Breger absent and Mayor Natalie Magdeburger recusing herself, to approve the final draft of the comprehensive plan, and to forward the document to the state for review.

“Obviously this is a plan, as a committee member, I’m very much in support of,” Magdeburger said. “So if you hear me recuse myself, please do not take it as something nefarious there. It is not. I’m doing this out of an abundance of caution.”

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.