The September 18, 2008 Town Council meeting addressed these matters: Council civic citation(s) and presentations; public comments ("Open Forum"); public hearing for Zoning and Subdivision ordinances; Harbor Committee report; Cemetary Committee report; Ordinance Committee report; Assateague lighthouse; Mayor and Council members comments.
The agenda, backup materials and an audio recording of this meeting are available on the Town website. Click here.
Present: Mayor Jack Tarr and Council members: Nancy Conlin, Jim Frese, John Howard, Terry Howard, John Nelson Jester.
Absent: Ellen Richardson
Staff present: Jared Anderson, Town Planner; Edward Lewis, Chief of Police; Robert Ritter, Town Manager; Jon Poulson, Town Attorney.
Mayor Tarr convened the meeting at 7:30 p.m.
(1) Council recognized Zach Jester, Troy Libertino and Josh Williams for actions which saved the life of Steve Merritt, in a September 8 surfing accident. Mentioned during this citation: there were "over 116 rescues by lifeguards" at the beach this season.
(2) Council presented the North Accomack Little League (NALL) with a check for $5,000.00 in support of the new ball fields planned behind the Community Center.
(1) Jim White implored Council to establish and enforce ordinance to require young children to wear helmets while operating motorized scooters. Mr. White cited a Massachusetts law requiring children under age 17 to wear helmets while operating motor scooters.
(2) Bill Larsen said the current parking ordinance reduces available parking for Town residents. He said there is "no room for more parking spaces."
(3) Dean Ursino said that a noise ordinance should be incorporated within a scooter policy, when and if that is developed by the Town.
Public Hearing for Changes to the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinance
Jane Wolffe said provision should be made in the new ordinance that buildings on deep lots should be not more than 100 ft. distant from the street, since fire hoses are 100 ft. in length. The Planning Commission recommended this to Council but the language was dropped. Also "reasonable access" has been added; Ms. Wolffe said this is too vague for building administrators to interpret. There is a need for more specificity in language, to avoid confusion.
Gladys Baczek said all housing, including house rentals, should be covered under the new ordinanace, which will reduce required parking spaces from 1.2 spaces per bedroom to 1 space per bedroom. Mr. Anderson said the ordinance will affect all housing.
Council passed the new Parking ordinance as is, without making the language change described by Ms. Wolffe. Councilman Frese said the specific wording could restrict developers' property rights. Councilman Terry Howard cited safety concerns and the intent of the Planning Commission; he was the single Council member opposed at the vote.
Harbor Committee Report
There is a rise in fee for sub-leasing to recreational boaters; sub-leasing is down. Council requested a list of lessors who do not pay or use their slips, thereby preventing new lessors from gaining access. The sea wall project proposal will be to Council in November. Councilman John Howard said there is a need to raise the slip rates; Mayor Tarr said to put it on October agenda (and possible reorganization of harbor ordinances). Councilman Terry Howard said when the harbor opened, people complained about costs to rent the slips; now, lessors do not want to give up slips they do not use.
Cemetary Committee Report
Chamber of Commerce cleans up major cemeteries twice a year, the Cemetary Committee does it once a year. Fish & Wildlife have provided a new mower for work on the Assateague Cemetary. Greenwood, Mechanic and Daisey Cemetaries in Chincoteague need much maintenance. Holly Ridge (N. Main) and the Reed Family Cemetary are future sites needing attention. Funds are down to $300 and one more clean-up to do. Councilman John Jester asked the Committee to investigate whether the Chamber could donate funds directly to the Town, instead of contracting separately.
Ordinance Committee Report
Trailer parking on public right of way--trailers must be licensed. Since 2005 small utility vehicles, boat trailers and motorcycles have a 24 hr. window. Chief Lewis has no problem. Councilman Terry Howard said a wider survey (than 6 streets) is needed to assess whether a problem exists.
Animal control--local police will pick up a trapped animal until County arrives. Chincoteague police have traps.
Background checks--Committee recommends new ordinance on these.
Assistant Manager of Wildlife Refuge Halpern reports that $1.5 million is needed for lighthouse restoration work. A Letter is requested from the Town to support grant applications. Mr. Ritter will do this.
Mayor & Council Comments
Councilman John Jester said John Amrhein, author of a 2007 publication entitled "The Hidden Galleon," is requesting (via letter) a permit to explore the location of a ship on Assateague.
The Council made a resolution to support lifeguards on the beach, and the National Park Service, stating these groups are critical to the economy of the Town.
Notes prepared by Victoria Weiskopf and Barbara Thackray
N.B. These notes do not constitute the public record of this meeting. The information contained herein is offered in good faith, is presented as accurately as possible, is thought to be a complete account of the proceedings. These notes are intended to be a public service devoid of political commentary for those who are interested in following the civic affairs of Chincoteague Island. Notes of the meeting are recorded, transcribed and distributed by volunteers who receive no financial compensation for their efforts.