AN ACT TO INCORPORATE THE TOWN OF SOUTH BETHANY.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware (two-thirds of all Members elected to each House thereof concurring therein):
Section 1. Incorporation
The Commissioners elected pursuant to Section 37 and their successors in office chosen as hereinafter provided shall hereby be constituted a body politic and corporate, in fact and in law, shall be known as the "Commissioners of South Bethany", and shall have a common seal and may sue and be sued by that name.
Section 2. Boundaries
(a) The boundaries of the Town of South Bethany are hereby established and declared to be as follows:
Beginning at an iron pipe at the high water line of the Atlantic Ocean at a corner for the lands of York Beach, Inc.; thence with the high water line of the Atlantic Ocean northerly a distance of approximately 3,180 feet to the line of the Middlesex Development; thence in a west northwest direction with the line of the Middlesex Development to a common corner for Middlesex and South Bethany; thence southerly and parallel to the Ocean Highway, with the westerly line of Canal Drive and Canal Drive Extended northerly, to the Jefferson Creek Canal; thence along Jefferson Creek to the east until a point in the center of the lagoon separating South Bethany and York Beach, Inc.; thence along the center line of said lagoon easterly until the lagoon turns at right angle to the south; thence southerly along the center of said lagoon until the end of said lagoon; thence from the last mentioned point in a straight line, a distance of approximately 1,100 feet, easterly to the iron pipe at the high water line of the Atlantic Ocean, the point of the BEGINNING.
(b) The aforedescribed lands are hereby divided into two tracts, contiguous each to the other, as follows:
BEGINNING at an iron pipe at the high water line of the Atlantic Ocean at a corner for the lands of York Beach, Inc.; thence with the high water line of the Atlantic Ocean northerly a distance of approximately 2,765 feet to the north line of North Sixth Street ; thence westerly at a right angle from the Ocean Highway and with the north line of North Sixth Street a distance of approximately 492.2 feet to the easterly line of the Ocean Highway ; thence crossing the Ocean Highway westerly on the same line a distance of 100 feet to the westerly line of the Ocean Highway ; thence with the westerly line of the Ocean Highway in a northerly direction a distance of approximately 180 feet to the northerly line of the Jefferson Creek Canal; thence westerly with the northerly line of the Jefferson Creek Canal to the easterly line of Sussex Avenue Extended in a southerly direction; thence with the easterly line of Sussex Avenue, and said line extended southerly, in a northerly direction and parallel to the Ocean Highway to the Middlesex Development; thence with the line of the Middlesex Development in a west northwest direction to a common corner for Middlesex and South Bethany; thence southerly and parallel to the Ocean Highway with the westerly line of Canal Drive and Canal Drive Extended northerly to the Jefferson Creek Canal; thence along Jefferson Creek to the east until a point in the center of the lagoon separating South Bethany and York Beach, Inc.; thence along the center of said lagoon easterly until the lagoon turns at right angle to the south; thence southerly along the center of said lagoon until the end of said lagoon; thence from the last mentioned point in a straight line, a distance of approximately 1,100 feet easterly to the iron pipe at the high water line of the Atlantic Ocean, the point of the BEGINNING.
BEGINNING at a point of TRACT ONE and the north line of North Sixth Street, with the high water line of the Atlantic Ocean, northerly a distance of approximately 415 feet to the line of the Middlesex Development; thence with the line of the Middlesex Development to the easterly line of Sussex Avenue extended in a northerly direction; thence along the easterly line of Sussex Avenue Extended in a southerly direction, to the northerly line of the Jefferson Creek Canal; thence easterly with the northerly line of the Jefferson Creek Canal to the westerly line of the Ocean Highway; thence southerly along the Ocean Highway to the north line of North Sixth Street, extended in a westerly direction; thence easterly along said north line of North Sixth Street to the high water line of the Atlantic Ocean, the point of the BEGINNING OF TRACT TWO. The commissioners of South Bethany, as hereinafter defined, may at any time and from time to time hereafter, cause a survey and a plot to be made of the aforedescribed lines and of any subsequently acquired lands by annexation procedures as hereinafter provided, and when made and approved by the Commissioners shall be recorded in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds in and for Sussex County, State of Delaware, and shall be evidential in all courts of law and equity in this State.
Section 3. Annexation
The said Corporation shall have the power to annex any additional contiguous territory when a majority of the qualified voters and real estate owners in such contiguous territory have a special election held for that purpose and voted in favor of being included within the limits of the Town of South Bethany and the said majority of voters and real estate owners have presented a petition seeking to have the territory annexed to the Town of South Bethany.
Before any additional territory shall be annexed to the Town the Commissioners of South Bethany shall pass a resolution accurately describing and defining the territory proposed to be annexed and notice of the petition for annexation shall be posted in at least four public places in the Town. After the expiration of 14 days from the posting of the said notices and within 35 days after the posting of the said notices the Commissioners of South Bethany may, by ordinance, two-thirds of all the Commissioners concurring therein, annex to the Town the territory described and defined in said resolution, and such territory shall become a part of the Town of South Bethany.
Section 4. Powers of Government
(a) The government of the Town and the exercise of all powers conferred by this Charter, except as otherwise provided herein, shall be vested in the Commissioners of South Bethany, seven in number, whose presiding officer shall be called "Mayor".
(b) The government of the Town shall not, in its assessment procedures, increase the taxes upon lands in Tract Two, identified above, to result in a figure in excess of 1/10th of the rate levied upon equivalent land areas in Tract One, similarly identified. Furthermore, the assessment of the land identified as Tract Two may not exceed the Sussex County assessment for the same land. In addition, the government of the Town may not exercise any control over the laying out of roads and lagoons in the area described as Tract Two above, their right being reserved to the owners to widen, deepen or connect existing lagoons with Jefferson Creek according to a plan or design prepared by said owners. The said land use may be either residential or commercial and if it is residential it may be for either single family dwellings or multi-family dwellings, as the owner may elect, provided nothing herein contained shall be construed to include the construction of facilities for mobile homes or trailers. All of these limitations upon the powers of the government of the Town referable to land described in Tract Two shall be terminated as soon as seventy-five per cent (75%) of the area described therein, exclusive of roads and lagoons, shall be used for income producing purposes or may be owner-occupied.
Section 5. Elections
(a) An election shall be held in the Town of South Bethany for an Alderman, Town Commissioners, Treasurer and Assessor on the first Saturday in June, 1966, and annually thereafter on the first Saturday in June, from two o'clock until seven o'clock in the afternoon, and at such places as shall be determined and fixed by the Town Commissioners. At least ten days previous to such election, due notice thereof and of the time and place thereof shall be received by three qualified voters of said Town appointed by the Commissioners. At all such elections the votes shall be received by three qualified voters of said Town appointed by the Commissioners at any regular or special meeting of said Commissioners, held in the month of May, preceding such election. Said persons so appointed shall be known as Judges of Election, and the result of the balloting for said officers of said Town shall be ascertained by the said Judges of Election. The persons who shall conduct such election as provided in this Act shall be the Judges thereof, and shall decide on the legality of the votes offered. Immediately after the election is closed, the votes shall be read and counted, and the persons having the highest number of votes for Alderman, Assessor or Treasurer shall be declared elected.
(b) The four candidates for Commissioner having the highest number of votes for such office shall be declared elected, the three highest thereof for a two-year term, and the third highest thereof for a one-year term. In case of a tie of any of the persons voted for, the election shall be determined by lot, that is, the names of the persons having a tie vote shall be written on identical slips and concealed from the person who shall draw the same, and one of the said Judges of Election shall draw one of said slips, and the person whose name appears on said slip shall be the person elected. Immediately after such election, said Judges of Election shall enter in a book to be provided for that purpose, a minute of such election, containing the names of all persons who were candidates for office, designating the office for which they were candidates and showing the number of votes received by each, and they shall subscribe to the same and deliver said book to said Commissioners at their organization meeting. They shall also give to the persons so elected certificates of their election. The book containing such minutes shall be preserved by the Commissioners and shall be evidence in all Courts in this State or elsewhere. In case of the absence, inability or failure of any of said Judges of Election to serve and perform his duties, as required by this Act, then and in such case it shall be the duty of the Commissioners of South Bethany, or a majority of them without formal meeting, to select an additional Judge of Election and who shall possess the same qualifications of the other Judges of Election and who shall perform the duties herein required in connection with the conduct of said election.
(c) Not more than two Commissioners shall be elected from among those qualified pursuant to Section 9 (a) who are residents of that part of the Town situated to the west of Ocean Highway No. 14 which portion of the Town is referred to as "Lagoon"; provided, however, that three Commissioners shall be elected from the Town At-Large and such At-Large Commissioner may be a resident of the Lagoon area.
(d) At least four of the Commissioners serving at one time shall be resident of the State of Delaware.
Section 6. Ballots
Immediately after the expiration of the time for filing names of candidates, the said Town Commissioners shall cause the election ballots to be printed. Upon such ballots the names of the candidates for the offices to be filled, arranged alphabetically under each office, shall be placed, and immediately below each group of names, instructions as to how many to vote for; for instance, "Vote for one", or "Vote for two", or as many as the voters shall be entitled to vote for in any particular case. The voters shall designate their choice of candidates to be voted for under each particular office at such election, by drawing a line through the names of all persons who are candidates for each particular office, except those candidates in each group desired to be voted for; provided, however, that no elector at any such election shall be allowed to vote for more candidates for any particular office (but may vote for less) than the number to be elected at such election. Defective designation of a voter's choice under the head of one or more of such groups of candidates shall not invalidate such ballot so far as there shall appear to be a proper designation of choice in any other of said groups of candidates. The form of ballot shall be substantially as follows:
Candidates for election to Elective Offices in the
Town of South Bethany
(Vote for One)
FOR COMMISSIONERS At-Large
(Vote for One) Lagoon
(Vote for Two) Ocean Beach
(Vote for Two) FOR TREASURER
(Vote for One) FOR ASSESSOR
(Vote for One)
The method of voting shall be by striking out the names of those not voted for, so that the eligible number of candidates for any particular office shall remain on the ballot.
Section 7. Qualifications for voting
Every person who shall have reached the age of twenty-one years, who is a citizen of the United States, who for at least three months preceding the day of election has been the legal owner of real estate in the Town of Bethany, and who on the day of election is not delinquent in the payment of taxes either to the State of Delaware or the Town of Bethany Beach shall be entitled to vote at the annual municipal elections, special elections and referenda, except as otherwise provided in this Charter.
Section 8. Registration of voters
The Commissioners shall by ordinance provide for the registration of voters and may prescribe registration and voting places, provided there shall be at least two registration days per year, the last one not more than thirty (30) days prior to any election or referendum. The hours of registration shall be as provided by ordinance. The ordinance may provide for permanent registration lists.
Section 9. Qualifications for office
(a) Commissioners. No person shall be eligible to hold office as a Commissioner except a person who at the time of filing as a candidate has been a real property owner of the Town for a period of one year immediately preceding the date of filing, is a citizen of the United States, has attained the age of twenty-one years, and is on non-delinquent taxpayer.
(b) Treasurer, Alderman and Assessor. No person shall be eligible to hold office as Treasurer, Alderman or Assessor except a person who at the time of filing as a candidate has been a real property owner of the Town for a period of one year immediately preceding the date of filing, is a citizen of the United States, has attained the age of twenty-one years. and is a non-delinquent taxpayer.
Section 10. Filing for office
least thirty (30) days before the date set for the election of said officers he shall have filed with the Secretary. or Mayor of the Commissioners of South Bethany a letter or other certificate setting forth that he will be candidate for a certain designated office. The Commissioners of South Bethany shall not permit the name of any such. candidate to be filed except such candidate as shall meet the requirements of Section 9 of this Charter.
Section 11. Organization meeting
An organization meeting of the Commissioners of South Bethany shall be held within one day following the annual election of officers. At the organization meeting the Commissioners elected shall select one of the Commissioners as the presiding officer of the commissioners of South Bethany for the term of one year. If the Commissioners are unable to select one of their number as a presiding officer, than such officer shall be chosen for the Commissioners by lot by the Commissioners. The presiding officer shall be called the "Mayor".
At the organization meeting of Commissioners to be held following the enactment of this Act, the seven Commissioners shall by lot determine four of their number to serve for a one-year term, and three of their number to serve for a two-year term.
Section 12. Meeting of Commissioners
In addition to the organization meeting there shall be three stated meetings of the said Commissioners in every year, viz: one on the second Saturday in June, July and August, and special meetings upon two days' notice at such times as the same shall be called by any four of the Commissioners. All meetings except organization meetings shall be open to attendance by the public.
Section 13. Compensation
Compensation for each Commissioner shall be fixed by the Commissioners except that such compensation shall not exceed one hundred dollars ($100) per annum. The Commissioners also shall fix the compensation for the Mayor, Treasurer, Assessor, Alderman, Secretary, Collector of Taxes, and other officials, except that such compensation for any official shall not exceed two hundred dollars ($200) per annum. Any compensation to such officials for special services, in addition to that fixed for regular service, shall be fixed by the Commissioners.
Section 14. Procedure
The Commissioners shall determine their own rules of procedure and order of business. It shall keep a record of its proceedings and the record shall be open to public inspection. Every ordinance shall be introduced in writing. No ordinance shall be passed unless it shall have the affirmative vote of a majority of the Commissioners. Vote on any ordinance shall be by voice vote and the vote of each Commissioner on any ordinance shall be entered on the record.
Section 15. Vacancies in office
(a) Temporary absence or inability to act. In case of the temporary absence or inability to act of the Mayor, the Commissioners shall appoint a President pro tempore from among themselves to act in such temporary absence or inability of the Mayor. The President pro tempore when lawfully acting as Mayor shall have all the powers conferred upon the Mayor by this Charter. The compensation of the President pro tempore shall be fixed by the Commissioners as provided in Section 13 of this Charter.
In the case of the temporary absence or inability to act of the Secretary, Alderman, Treasurer, Assessor or a Commissioner, the majority of the Commissioners may appoint an officer pro tempore to act in any such temporary absence or inability.
(b) Permanent vacancies. If, by death, resignation or otherwise, any vacancy shall occur in the office of Mayor, Commissioner, Alderman, Treasurer, Assessor or Secretary, a majority of the Commissioners are hereby authorized to fill said vacancies at the next regular meeting or at a special meeting for the unexpired term of said office or offices.
Section 16. Duties of Mayor
It shall be the duty of the Mayor to preside at all meetings of the Commissioners and he shall have a vote therein and in case of his absence a President pro tempore shall be appointed in his place. He shall execute on behalf of the Town when authorized by a majority of the Commissioners all agreements, contracts, bonds, deeds, leases and other documents necessary to be executed. He shall have the power to appoint the other four Commissioners to be in charge of any departments or divisions of the Town government created by the Commissioners. At least one Commissioner must be appointed to each department or division created by the Commissioners. The Mayor shall also have the power to appoint the Secretary of the Town. It shall be the duty of the Mayor to see that the laws and ordinances of the said Town are faithfully executed and the Mayor shall perform all duties imposed upon him by this Charter. The Mayor shall also have the power to administer oath and affirmation.
Section 17. Duties of Secretary
It shall be the duty of the Secretary to record all the proceedings of the Commissioners and keep a correct journal of the same in a book or books provided for that purpose, said journal must show all bills approved by the Commissioners, the amount of said bills and to whom payable. The Secretary shall file and keep in a safe place the Seal of the Town, and deliver the same to his successor in office. The Secretary shall attest the Seal of the Town when authorized by the Commissioners and shall perform such duties and such other powers as may be prescribed by the Commissioners. All records, books, papers, and documents in the custody of the Secretary shall be always open for the inspection of the Commissioners. The Secretary may also serve as a Commissioner.
Section 18. Duties of Treasurer
(a) Duties. It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to deposit all moneys in his possession belonging to said Town, in the name of the Town of South Bethany, in a bank selected by the Commissioners; the said Treasurer shall be the custodian
of all moneys belonging to said Town and shall pay out of any moneys in his possession belonging to said Town all bills approved in writing by the Commissioners or a majority of them and presented to him for payment, and take a receipt for the same to be preserved and delivered to his successor in office; he shall settle his accounts with the said Commissioners annually at the end of each calendar year and at such other times as the said Commissioners may require. The Treasurer shall attend all meetings of the Commissioners. The Treasurer may be a Commissioner.
(b) Audit of accounts. The Commissioners are hereby required to appoint one or more suitable and capable persons to audit the account of the Treasurer at the end of each calendar year and at such other times as said Commissioners may deem advisable.
(c) Bond of Treasurer. The Treasurer before entering upon the duties of his office shall give bond to the Commissioners, with sufficient surety, to be approved by the Commissioners in penal sum equal to the amount of what may be likely to come into his hands conditioned for the faithful discharge of the duties of said office, and for the delivery to his successor in office all books, papers, etc., relating to said Treasurer and all sums of money belonging to the Town which are in his hands upon the termination of his office and the settlement of his final account; to which said bond and condition shall be annexed a warrant for the confession of judgment for said penalty. The cost of said bond shall be paid out of Town funds.
(d) Failure to give bond. If the Treasurer shall fail to bond as required by this section, he shall thereby forfeit his office and the same shall become vacant; in case such vacancy occurs the Commissioners are authorized to appoint a Treasurer to serve for the unexpired term.
Section 19. Collection of taxes
The Commissioners shall elect some suitable person Tax Collector for the Town ; and after having ascertained the sum necessary to be raised on the said Town for the purposes of this Act, and having apportioned the same on the assessment
and valuation aforesaid, shall, yearly, on or before the fifteenth day of May, furnish the Tax Collector of said Town with a list containing the names of the taxables, as well as the owners of real estate, and opposite the names of each the amount of the real estate, the tax levied on the whole valuation and assessment, and the rate per hundred dollars. The list shall be signed by the Commissioners or a majority of them.
The Tax Collector, on the fifteenth day of May, shall proceed to collect the taxes mentioned in the said list, and in collecting the same shall have the same powers as are given by law to the collectors of the county rates and levies. All taxes shall be due and payable on the fifteenth day of May of the year during which said taxes are levied. A discount of five per centum may be allowed on all taxes paid on or before the last day of June; five per centum shall be added to all taxes paid after the last day of August. No legal proceedings shall be instituted for the collection of taxes until after the last day of August of the year during which said taxes are levied, provided, that if any person or persons shall remove from said Town his or their taxes shall become due and collectible by law.
The said Tax Collector shall also before entering upon his duties give bond to the Commissions of South Bethany, with sufficient surety, to be approved by the Commissioners of said Town in the penal sum equal to the amount of what may be likely to come into his hands conditioned for the faithful discharge of the duties of his office; to which said bond and condition shall be annexed a warrant of attorney for the confession of judgment for said penalty. The cost of said bond shall be paid out of money belonging to said Town.
The said Tax Collector shall render an account, and pay unto the Town Treasurer all money in his hands, on the first Monday of every third month and upon the expiration of his term of office and at such other time or times as the Commissioners, or a majority of them, shall require. He shall have all the power conferred upon or vested in the Receiver of Taxes and the County Treasurer for Sussex County.
The citizens of the Town of South Bethany are hereby exempted from the payment of all Hundred and Road Taxes.
Section 20. Alderman
The Alderman is hereby constituted a conservator of the peace within said Town and is authorized and empowered to exercise within said Town all the authority which a Justice of the Peace may exercise under the laws of the State; with all the powers of the Justice of the Peace to take recognizance, to arrest, hold for bail, or fine and imprison offenders in such amounts and/or for such terms as are set out by the laws of the State; provided, that in the case of a violation of an ordinance he shall impose no penalty or fine in excess of that fixed by the ordinance and shall not commit to prison for a longer term than thirty days a person who is in default in the payment of a fine imposed for the violation of a Town ordinance; provided further, that he shall have no jurisdiction in any civil matter other than to carry out the provisions of this Act.
He shall have jurisdiction and authority over all neglect, omissions or defaults of the Town police, Assessor, Collector of Taxes, Treasurer or any other person or officer whose duty it may be to collect, receive, pay over or account for any money belonging to the said Town or to execute or obey any law or ordinance thereof.
The fees of said Alderman shall be the same as are allowed Justices of the Peace for similar services under the laws of this State. It shall be the duty of the Alderman to keep a book of record, or docket, to be called the "Alderman's Docket of South Bethany", to be provided by the Commissioners, in which all his official acts shall be entered, and he shall, upon expiration of his term of office, deliver over to his successor all the books and papers pertaining to his office within ten days after the election and qualification of his successor and shall pay over to the Treasurer of the Town all moneys in his hand belonging to the Town within five days after the expiration of his term; upon his neglect or failure to deliver to his successor in office within the time aforesaid all the books and papers belonging to his office or upon neglect or failure to pay over to the Treasurer of the Town within the time aforesaid all moneys belonging to the Town, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined not
less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500).
All fines collected by the Alderman belong to the Town and its use. The Alderman at every regular meeting of the Commissioners shall report to it all fines and penalties imposed by him since the Commissioners' last meeting and pay to the Treasurer of the Town all such fines and penalties received by him during the said time and in default of making such report or paying such fines and penalties for a period of twenty days after such report should be made and such fines and penalties should be paid as aforesaid, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined not less than twenty dollars ($20) nor more than one hundred dollars ($100).
Prosecution by the Alderman shall be by information without indictment by a Grand Jury or trial or Petit Jury. Processes issued by the Alderman may be directed to any county constable, the Sheriff of any county or any member of the Town Police Force who shall execute the same in like manner and be subject to the same penalties as in other cases.
Section 21. Constables
The Commissioners may appoint such number of Town Constables as deemed necessary who shall constitute the Town Police and who shall have such authority as shall be vested in them by the Commissioners for enforcing the laws and ordinances of the Town.
Section 22. Assessor
The Assessor, immediately after his election and before entering upon the duties of his office, shall be sworn or affirmed before one of the Commissioners or a Justice of the Peace to diligently, faithfully and impartially perform the duties of his office to the best of his ability, knowledge and judgment, and a certificate shall be made by the person administering the oath or affirmation, in the record book of the Commissioners containing the certificate of the election of the Alderman, Commissioners and Assessor,
Section 23. Assessment procedure
The Assessor of the Town shall, annually, in the month of March, make a true, just and impartial valuation or assessment of the real estate within said Town, said assessment shall be made of all registered real estate owners in said Town above the age of twenty-one years which assessment may be done by adoption of the current year's assessment made by the Sussex County Board of Tax Assessors, but which in no event shall exceed the same, and the said Assessor shall forthwith after making such assessment deliver to the Commissioners a duplicate containing the name of all the persons assessed and the amount of their assessments. The Commissioners shall, between the first and fifteenth days of April, cause a full and complete transcript of said duplicate to be posted in a public place in said Town, there to remain for the space of twenty days thereafter for public inspection, and said Commissioners shall on the Wednesday next after the expiration of the said twenty days hold a court of appeals, which shall continue open from six o'clock p. m. until ten o'clock p. m. of the said day, when they shall hear and determine appeals from said assessments. Notice of the posting of the list, and also at the same time notice of the time and place of hearing appeals shall be given by notices posted in at least six public places in said Town. The decision of the Commissioners upon any appeals shall be final and conclusive. No Commissioner shall sit upon his own appeal, but the same shall be heard and determined by the other Commissioners.
After the valuation and assessment shall be examined and adjusted by the said Commissioners, all taxes shall be levied, assessed and raised on the real estate thus valued and assessed.
Section 24. Powers of the Town
The Town of South Bethany shall have all the powers granted to municipal corporations and to cities by the Constitution and general laws of the State of Delaware, together with all the implied powers necessary to carry into execution all the powers granted. The Town of South Bethany shall continue to enjoy all powers which have been granted to it by special acts
of the General Assembly of the State of Delaware, except insofar as they may be superseded by the enactment of this Charter.
The Town of South Bethany may have and use a corporate seal, may sue and be sued; and except as prohibited by the Constitution of the State of Delaware or restricted by this Charter, the Town shall and may exercise all municipal powers, functions, rights, privileges and immunities of every name and nature whatsoever.
The enumeration of particular powers by this Charter shall not be held or deemed to be exclusive, but, in addition to the powers enumerated herein, implied thereby, or appropriate to the exercise thereof, it is intended that the Town of South Bethany shall have and may exercise all powers which, under the Constitution of the State of Delaware, it would be competent for this Charter specifically to enumerate. All powers of the Town, whether express or implied, shall be exercised in the manner prescribed by this Charter, or, if not prescribed herein, then in a manner provided by ordinance or resolution of the Commissioners.
Section 25. Powers of the Commissioners
The Commissioners shall constitute the legislative body of the Town of South Bethany and together shall be designated as the Commissioners.
The Commissioners shall have power to prevent the introduction or spread of infectious or contagious diseases or nuisances affecting the Town, which power shall extend to the area outside the Town limits and within one mile from said limits.
The Commissioners may also pass ordinances to ascertain and fix boundaries of streets, squares, lanes and alleys, or repair and amend the same, and provide for the paving thereof ; or to alter, extend or widen any street, square, lane or alley; to open and lay out new ones subject to the provisions in that behalf hereinafter contained; to regulate the ascent and descent of all streets, lanes, and alleys; to fix the building lines upon the same; to direct the paving of foot ways and to prescribe
the width thereof ; to direct the laying out of gutters and to prescribe the depth thereof; to prescribe the extent of steps, porches, cellar doors, and other inlets to yards and buildings; to provide police and the lighting of streets at the expense of the Town; and generally to prescribe and regulate the use of the streets, lanes and allays of the Town and to have and exercise control over the same, subject to the provisions in that behalf hereinafter contained.
The Commissioners shall have the power to prescribe the rules and regulations directed toward the prevention of fires and explosions; to adopt municipal zoning regulations; to adopt traffic regulations; to regulate itinerant peddlers and canvassers within the Town; to regulate signs and bill boards and to provide for permits for the erection and maintenance thereof.
The Commissioners shall have the power to provide for the regulation of auctions and auctioneers, also to regulate public amusements, to fix and declare and regulate the width of party walls, to provide for the safety of the citizens and for that purpose may prescribe the heights, thickness of walls, and materials of buildings and the mode of erecting the same within said Town; and for providing for and securing the safety of the inmates thereof, and making provisions for the enforcements of such regulations.
The Commissioners shall have the power to regulate by ordinance or otherwise the sale of goods, wares and merchandise on the streets or other public places within the Town of South Bethany, and to fix the license fee thereof and to license the conduct of business generally within the Town and fix license fees for same and to make all necessary rules and regulations and provide necessary penalties for the enforcement of such ordinances and the collection of such license fees; provided, however, that no license fee shall exceed $50.00 per year and in its discretion to provide for the payment of the expenses thereof, to provide for the measuring or weighing of coal, lime, grain, or other matter sold in the said Town.
The Commissioners shall have the power to lay and collect fines on the owners of any domestic or other animal which may be found at large in any of the streets, squares, lanes or alleys aforesaid, and in general shall have power to do all those matters and things for the well being of the said Town, which shall not be in a contravention of any existing laws of this State or the Constitution thereof.
The Commissioners shall not have the power to exempt any individual from the operation of any general ordinance or municipal regulation. The Commissioners shall have the power to require all persons owning or keeping any male or female dog or dogs within the limits of the said Town to have the same registered annually and collect a fee from such keeper, owner or owners for such registration, and shall have the power to fix the time and manner of registering the amount of the annual fee thereof, and the penalty for not registering by ordinance.
The Commissioners shall have the power to create a Community Welfare Fund and to pay into said Fund from Town income from time to time sums of money not to exceed two per centum (2%) in any one year of the gross amount of money collected by the Town for taxes in that year. The proceeds of the Community Welfare Fund may be used by the Town for community projects or donated to worthwhile organizations in the Town that provide community services or protection to the Town and its citizens. Any donation by the Town from the Community Welfare Fund to an organization must be first approved by a majority of the Commissioners.
The Commissioners shall have all other powers requisite to and appropriate for the government of the Town of South Bethany, its peace and order, its sanitation and beauty, and for the health, safety, convenience, comfort and well being of its population, and for the protection and preservation of public and private property.
Section 26. Business operations
The Town of South Bethany shall have the right and power to acquire, own and maintain, within the corporate limits of such Town, all real estate for municipal purposes for sites and rights-of-way, for public buildings, or other municipal and general welfare purposes; and for the location, erection and maintenance thereof of public facilities for the uses aforesaid.
In any cases where the Commissioners may deem it to be to the best interests of the people of the Town to acquire the properties of any privately owned sewer system, sewage treatment plants, water systems, water plants or utilities within the present or future boundaries of the Town, the question shall be submitted to a vote of the freeholders of the Town of South Bethany. The Commissioners may at any time call a special election for such purposes upon thirty days' notice. In acquiring said utility property, the Town shall respect the franchise rights of the owners and shall in all respects adhere to the general laws of the State of Delaware insofar as they relate to the purchase of utility property by municipalities. The Commissioners shall be authorized to negotiate the aforementioned purchase only upon the approval of a majority of the freeholders of the Town of South Bethany.
Section 27. Control of streets
The several posts and mark stones now set and fixed or which may hereafter be established in the middle of the streets of said Town, as well as all such other posts and mark stones as shall from time to time be set and fixed in the earth by the Town shall in all cases and in all courts of law within the State be deemed, taken and allowed as land marks. The said Town by itself or by its servants or agents shall have the right to enter upon any land within the limits of the Town and thereon set and fix such posts and mark stones as in the judgment of the Commissioners are necessary; and if any person shall wilfully tamper with or remove any of said posts or mark stones such person shall, for each such offense, forfeit and pay a fine of one hundred dollars ($100) ; and the Town may reward the informer of such offense by allowing him a portion of said penalty not exceeding one-half thereof.
The Commissioners shall have the power and authority to lay out, locate and open new streets and to widen or to alter existing streets or parts thereof, whenever they shall deem it for the best interests of the Town.
Section 28. Paving
The paving, graveling, or guttering of the streets shall be done by the Commissioners at the expense of the Town, except in case of property exempt from taxation, in which case the Commissioners may in their discretion require the owner or owners of said exempt property to pay for the paving, graveling, or guttering of the streets, and in case said owners refuse so to pay, the Commissioners may proceed to have the same done and when done the Treasurer of the Town shall as soon as convenient thereafter present to the said owner or owners of such tax-exempt lands, a bill showing the expense of paving, graveling or guttering. If such owner or owners be not resident in said Town, such bill may be presented to the occupier or tenant of said land with a copy of said bill to be mailed to the owner or owners at his or their last known address, or there is no occupier or tenant resident in the Town, such bill may be sent by mail to such owner or owners at his or their last known address. If such bill be not paid by the owner or owners of such lands within thirty days after the presentation, then it shall be the duty of the Commissioners to issue an order in the name of the Town of South Bethany under the hand of the Mayor, and the seal of the said Corporation, directed to the Treasurer, commanding him to proceed to collect such delinquent assessment as levied in accordance with the authority granted under Section 34, "Collection of Taxes and Special Assessments," of this Act. The claim for paving shall be a lien on the premises in front of which the said work was done, and shall have the same priority and be collectible in the same manner as municipal property taxes.
If any new paving is ordered by the Commissioners as aforesaid, in front of lot or lots held or owned by a widow or widows as and for her on their dower, such expense incurred as aforesaid shall be paid by the owner or owners of the reversion in the fee simple. All subsequent repairs named in this Act are to be kept up at the expense of such tenant in dower.
Any notice required by this section to one co-owner shall be notice to all; and in case no owner shall reside in the Town, notice may be served upon the occupier or tenant of said premises resident in the Town, and if there be no such occupier or tenant, it shall be sufficient to send said notice by mail to any owner of said premises, directed to him or her at the post office nearest his or her residence.
The provisions hereinbefore contained in this section shall apply to any order made by the Commissioners in respect to any such paving, graveling or guttering heretofore done, which the Commissioners may deem insufficient or to need repairing. The Commissioners in addition to the provisions of this section hereinbefore shall have power and authority to enforce by ordinance all the requirements of this section by imposing such fines and penalties as shall be in the judgment of the Commissioners necessary and proper.
Section 29. Acquisition of property
The Town of South Bethany is hereby authorized and empowered whenever it shall deem it necessary and expedient for any municipal purpose to obtain and acquire property by purchase, gift, devise or lease within the boundaries of said Town and to obtain legal title to said property by appropriate conveyances. If the Town fails to reach an agreement with an owner or owners of said property it shall have the power to take such property by condemnation in the manner and according to the procedure as set forth in Title 10, Chapter 61, Delaware Code of 1953; provided, however, that the right of condemnation shall not extend to property owned by the State of Delaware or any agency thereof.
Section 30. Special assessments
The Town of South Bethany is hereby authorized and empowered to levy and collect special assessments upon property in a limited and determinable area for special benefits accruing to such property as a consequence of any municipal public work or improvement; and to provide for the payment of all or any part of the cost of the work, service, or improvement out of the proceeds of such special assessments.
The Commissioners may provide for the payment of special assessments, for whatever purpose levied, by installments, but assessments for permanent improvements shall be within ten years in annual or more frequent installments, and assessments for current services shall be payable within one year.
The amount assessed against any property for any work or improvement shall not exceed the value of the benefits accruing to the property therefrom.
Section 31. Power to raise revenue
The Commissioners shall have the power to levy and collect taxes on real property within the limits of the Town, except that which is not assessable and taxable by virtue of any law of the State of Delaware, which shall not be more than the sum determined by applying the Sussex County tax rate to the total assessments appearing on the Assessor's duplicate, as hereinbefore provided, in any one year clear of all delinquencies and expenses of collection, without a referendum vote as hereinafter provided. The Commissioners shall have the right to grant or refuse, and to charge fees for licenses, or permits for traveling shows, and other businesses of any description within the limits of the Town, to control their use of any property within the Town. The Commissioners shall also have the power to levy and collect franchise fees.
The Commissioners shall have the power by ordinance to allow discounts for early payment of taxes, to impose reasonable penalties and forfeitures for tax delinquencies, and to review and determine proper and appropriate properties to be exempt from taxation.
The Commissioners shall have the power to fix the rates for general utility services operated by the Town and to collect and utilize revenues from such utility services for the benefit of the Town.
Section 32. Power to borrow money
The Commissioners under the restrictions hereinafter provided may borrow for municipal purposes on the credit of the Town such sum or sums of money at such time or times as they may deem proper not to exceed ten per cent of the assessed value of the real estate of said Town and issue bonds for the payment of same.
If revenue bonds are issued, each such bond shall recite in substance that said bond, including interest thereon, is payable from the revenue pledged to the payment thereof, and that said bond does not constitute a debt of the Town within the meaning of the bonded indebtedness limitation set out above; provided, however, that in the event of some emergency, the Town may temporarily borrow, advance or loan such amount as is necessary to meet current interest on outstanding bonds, such advance or loan to be repaid to the Town out of revenue subsequently received from the undertaking. If revenue bonds are issued, the Commissioners shall prescribe and collect reasonable rates, fees or charges for the service, facilities and accommodations of said undertaking and shall revise such rates, fees or charges from time to time whenever necessary so that such undertaking shall be and always remain self-supporting. The rates, fees or charges prescribed shall be such as will procure revenue at least sufficient (a) to pay when due all bonds and interest thereon, for the payment of which such revenue is or shall have been pledged, charged or otherwise encumbered, including reserves therefor, and (b) to provide for all expenses of operation and maintenance of such undertaking including reserves therefor.
Before the Town may incur indebtedness by the issuance of bonds as aforesaid, the borrowings of money shall have been authorized by the Commissioners and shall have been approved in the following manner:
I. The Commissioners shall by resolution propose to the freeholders of the Town the purpose or purposes for which the stated amount of money shall be borrowed. The resolution shall state the amount of money desired to be borrowed, the purpose for which it is desired, the manner of securing the same, and all other pertinent facts relating to the loan, including data on total related debt and the debt limitations established by this Charter; shall fix a time and place for hearing on the resolution; and shall provide for publication of an announcement of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town at least once a week for three successive weeks prior to the hearing date.
2. A public hearing shall be held at which time all persons of interest wishing to be heard shall be given an opportunity to express their views. Their testimony shall be considered in evidence by the Commissioners.
3. If the Commissioners desire to continue with the bond proceedings, it shall then, by resolution, direct that the question be submitted to a referendum. An election shall be held not less than thirty days nor more than sixty days after the date of such resolution.
4. The notice of the time and place for holding the said special election shall be printed in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town once a week for three successive weeks prior to the election.
5. The Commissioners shall cause to be prepared, printed and made available for distribution a sufficient number of ballots not less than five days prior to the day of the special election. At said referendum all freeholders of the town shall be entitled to one vote.
6. All votes for and against the proposed loan shall be counted and the results announced and delivered to the Commissioners and entered on the minutes of the Commissioners. Provided, however, no bond issue shall be deemed approved unless a majority of those voting at such referendum shall vote for such bond issue.
7. The form of the bonds and certificates of indebtedness, the date of payment of interest, the classes, the dates of maturity, and the provisions pertaining to the registration shall be determined by the Commissioners. The bonds shall be sold to the highest bidder after at least one month's notice published at least twice in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town and at least once in publication carrying municipal bond notices and devoted primarily to financial news. The Commissioners shall provide, in its budget, for revenues sufficient to pay the interest and principal on said bonds or certificates of indebtedness at the maturity or maturities thereof. The faith and credit of the Town shall be deemed pledged for the due payment of the principal and interest of general obligation bonds issued within the prescribed debt limitation when the same have been properly executed and delivered for value.
Section 33. Borrowing for current expenses
Whenever the needs of the Town shall require more money than is, at the time, in the Town Treasury from current receipts, the Commissioners shall be authorized and empowered to anticipate current revenue by borrowing such amounts as are needed ; provided, however, the amount of such indebtedness shall not at any time exceed the sum of one-half per cent of the assessed value of real estate.
To exercise the power aforesaid the Commissioners shall adopt a resolution to that effect, which resolution shall require the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of all the members of the Commissioners. The indebtedness created under this provision shall be evidenced by notes of the Town, and the faith and credit of the Town shall be deemed to be pledged thereby. Such short-term debt shall not be considered as part of the bonded debt of the Town when limitations under indebtedness, as set forth elsewhere in this Charter, are computed.
Section 34. Collection of taxes and special assessments
In addition to all existing methods and authority for the collection of taxes or special assessments due to the Town of South Bethany, the following methods and authority are hereby established:
The Tax Collector may recover the amount of tax in an action of debt against the person taxed, before any Justice of the Peace in Sussex County, or before the Court of Common Pleas or Superior Court of Sussex County; and it shall be sufficient to set forth that the action is to recover a specified sum of money, being a tax or taxes assessed against the defendant, and the time of assessing the same. The right of appeal shall be the same as in other civil actions.
If judgment be rendered in favor of the Tax Collector, he shall have an allowance for his reasonable trouble in attending to the suit, including counsel fees, not in excess of five per centum of the amount of taxes plus accrued interest, to be taxed by the Court in the costs, and execution shall issue against the real estate of the defendant; provided, no execution against the real estate shall issue except out of the Superior Court of Sussex County.
Where such judgment is recovered before a Justice of the Peace or Court of Common Pleas, and it is the desire of the Tax Collector to proceed against the real estate of the defendant, the said Tax Collector shall take a transcript of the judgment from the Justice of the Peace or Court of Common Pleas and cause the same to be entered on the dockets of the Superior Court. When such transcripts are entered, the subsequent proceedings, including enforcement, shall be the same as upon other judgments.
Section 35. Limitation of action for damages
No action, suit, or proceedings shall be brought or maintained against the Commissioners of South Bethany for damages on account of physical injuries, death or injury to property by reason of the negligence of the said Commissioners or any of its departments, officers, agents or employees thereof, unless the person by or on behalf whom such claim or demand is asserted shall notify the Commissioners in writing of the time, place, cause and character of the injuries sustained, within 90 days thereof.
Section 36. Severability of charter provisions
If any provision of this Charter or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of this Charter which can be given effect without the invalid provisions or applications, and to this end the provisions of this Charter are declared to be severable.
Section 37. Effective date of public act
(a) This Act shall be deemed and considered to be a Public Act and the unincorporated association known as South Bethany Association shall be deemed to be a municipal corporation under the style and name of Commissioners of South Bethany upon the approval of a majority of voters voting at a Special Election called for the purpose of approving the Charter as passed by the General Assembly and approved by the Governor of the State of Delaware.
(b) No later than fifteen (15) days following the approval of this Act by the Governor, the Resident Judge of Sussex shall name as Temporary Commissioners three persons who shall have been the legal owner of real estate in the area described in Section 2 hereof for at least three months preceding the date of said approval. Not later than thirty (30) days following the approval of this Act by the Governor, the Temporary Commissioners shall by resolution propose to the electors of the Town of South Bethany the approval of the Charter. The resolution as passed by the Commissioners shall fix a time and place for a public hearing on the said resolution.
(c) Notice of the time and place of the said public hearing shall be posted in at least five (5) places within the proposed limits of the Town of South Bethany as described in Section 2 of this Act at least three weeks prior to the date of the public hearing and shall be printed in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town once a week for three successive weeks.
(d) After the public meeting, a second resolution shall then be passed by the Temporary Commissioners ordering a Special Election to be held not less than thirty (30) days nor more than sixty (60) days following the date of the public hearing for the purpose of voting for or against the approval of the Charter.
() Notice of the time and place of holding the said Special Election shall be posted in at least five (5) places within the proposed limits of the Town of South Bethany as described in Section 2 of this Act or at least three weeks prior to the date of said Special Election and shall be printed in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town once a week for three successive weeks.
(f) At the Special Election every person over the age of twenty-one years who for at least three months preceding the date of the election has been the legal owner of real estate in the Town of South Bethany shall be entitled to vote for or against the approval of this Act. Each such voter shall be entitled to one vote.
(g) The polls for the said Special Election shall open at one o'clock in the afternoon and shall close at six o'clock in the afternoon on the day advertised.
(h) The vote shall be by ballot on which is printed or written the following:
For the approval of the Charter
Against the approval of the Charter
() Any qualified voter who for any reason cannot appear to vote in person at said Special Election shall be permitted to cast an absentee ballot by mail. The Commissioners named in Section 1 of this Act shall make fair and adequate provision for the casting of such ballot and notice thereof shall be included in the posted and printed notice pursuant to subsection (e) of this Section.
(a) If the majority of the votes cast at the Special Election are cast in favor of the Approval of this Act, the Temporary Commissioners shall by resolution order an Election to be held no less than forty (40) nor more than forty-five (45) days from the date of the Special Election, at which Election Commissioners, Alderman, Treasurer and Assessor shall be chosen who shall serve until the election to be held in June, 1966. Such Election shall be conducted in the manner prescribed in this Section except that the Ballot used shall comply with Section 6. The Temporary Commissioners shall serve as Judges of the Election and perform the duties prescribed for that office in Section 5. Sections 5 (c) and 7 shall apply to the Election. The Temporary Commissioners shall perform the duties imposed on the Commissioners by Sections 8 and 10, except that a candidate may file for office for this Election only at least fifteen days (15) days before the date set for the election.
(k) The Temporary Commissioners shall act as a Board of Election and shall count the votes for and against the approval of the Charter; shall announce the results thereof; shall make a certificate under their hands of the number of votes cast for and against the approval of this Act and the number of void votes. The original of said certificate shall be filed with the papers of the Commissioners.
(1) The Commissioners of South Bethany, elected at the Election provided by subsection (j) hereof, shall, be deemed and considered to be a municipal corporation of this State as of the date of the said Election.
(m) No Temporary Commissioner shall be a candidate for any office at the election provided in Section 37 (j). In the event of the resignation, death or disability of a Temporary Commissioner, a successor Temporary Commissioner shall be chosen by the Resident Judge of Sussex County.
Approved December 22, 1965.