SENATE BILL NO. 203
AS AMENDED BY
SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1
AN ACT TO AMEND THE CHARTER OF THE TOWN OF SOUTH BETHANY, CHAPTER 268, VOLUME 69, LAWS OF DELAWARE, AS AMENDED, BY CLARIFYING VOTING QUALIFICATIONS, PROHIBITING MEMBERS OF COUNCIL FROM BEING EMPLOYED BY THE TOWN, CLARIFYING THE POWERS OF THE MAYOR, AUTHORIZING THE TOWN COUNCIL TO ESTABLISH CODE OF CONDUCT, CONTRACT, AND COMPETITIVE BIDDING PROVISIONS BY ORDINANCE, CLARIFYING FORFEITURE OF OFFICE PROVISIONS, AUTHORIZING REMOTE ELECTRONIC ACCESS MEETING PARTICIPATION BY COUNCIL MEMBERS, EXPANDING THE TOWN'S ABILITY TO CREATE LIENS AND TO COLLECT COSTS AND ATTORNEY'S FEES, AUTHORIZING THE TOWN TO ADOPT SUBDIVISION REGULATIONS, AND IMPOSE IMPACT FEES.
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. Amend §3.2.5(a) of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by inserting the word "natural" before the word "person" wherever the word "person" appears in the first sentence; and by deleting the last sentence of subparagraph (a) and inserting, in place thereof, the following:
"In addition, each legal entity (other than a natural person) owning property in its own name in the territory proposed to be annexed shall be entitled to one (1) vote."
Section 2. Amend §5.2 of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended be deleting the same in its entirety and in place thereof, inserting a new §5.2 as follows:
5.2.1 General Qualifications. A candidate for the office of Town Councilmember or Mayor shall be a natural person at least twenty-one (21) years of age, a citizen of the United States, and otherwise qualified to vote at the annual municipal election as provided in 6.1. No candidate for the office of Town Councilmember or Mayor shall have been convicted of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude.
5.2.2 Resident and Non-resident Members. At least four of the seven members of the Town Council must be residents of the Town, but all may be residents of the Town.
a. Resident Members. Any person who, on the date of the filing of notice of intention to run (or on the date of his/her appointment to fill a vacancy) qualifies as a "resident" of the Town (as that term is defined in Section 6.1.d.(2)(b) hereof) and certifies his/her intention of remaining a "resident" of the Town, shall be deemed to be a "resident" Town Council member upon taking office, whether or not such person is also a "freeholder" in the Town (as that term is defined in Section 6.1.d.(2)(a) hereof); and if such person subsequently fails to maintain residency in the Town, but continues to be a "freeholder" in the Town during his/her term of office, that person shall continue to be deemed a "resident" member of the Town Council.
b. Non-resident Members. Any person who, on the date of filing of the notice of intention to run (or on the date of his/her appointment to office in the case of a vacancy) is not a "resident" of the Town but is a "freeholder" shall be deemed to be a "non-resident" member of the Town Council. If such "non-resident" member of the Town Council subsequently establishes residency in the Town during his/her term of office, that person shall continue to be deemed to be a "non-resident" member of the Town Council; provided however, that if any "non-resident" member shall, during his/her term of office, cease to be a "freeholder" in the Town, that person shall be deemed to have vacated his/her office by reason of that fact, regardless of whether or not that person has also become a "resident" of the Town.
Each Councilmember shall continue, throughout his/her term of office, to be either a resident or freeholder as described above.
5.2.3 Requirements for Mayoral Candidates. A candidate for the office of Mayor shall qualify as a "resident" of the Town as that term is defined 6.1(d) hereof, at the time of the election. The Mayor shall remain a resident of the Town throughout his/her term of office.
5.2.4 Term Limits. No person having served three (3) consecutive terms (or portions thereof) as Mayor shall serve as Mayor for the term immediately following his/her third consecutive term (or portion thereof).
5.2.5 Council to Act as Final Judge. The Town Council, by majority vote of its disinterested members, shall be the sole and final judge of the qualifications of its members and shall interpret and apply the standards set forth in this Charter."
Section 3. Amend §5 of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by inserting as a new paragraph 5.4 the following:
"5.4 Prohibition of employment with Town. Neither the Mayor nor any member of the Town Council shall be employed by the Town in any capacity during their term of office."
Section 4. Amend §6.1(d) of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by deleting the same in its entirety and inserting a new subsection 6.1(d) as follows:
"6.1.(d) Have been one of the following:
(1) A freeholder in the Town, as defined herein, for a period of ninety (90) consecutive days immediately preceding the date of the election. A "freeholder" shall be deemed to include any natural person who holds title of record either in his/her own name or as trustee to a fee simple estate or a life estate in and to real property located within the corporate limits of the Town.
(2) The spouse of a freeholder whether their name is on the deed or not.
(3) A resident of the Town. A "resident" shall mean any natural person who has been physically residing within the corporate limits of the Town for at least nine (9) months, consecutively or non-consecutively, of the twelve-month period immediately preceding the date of the election, and who is physically residing within the Town on the date of the election.
(4) Provided, however, anything herein to the contrary notwithstanding, not more than eight (8) persons per property shall be entitled to vote either as a "freeholder" or as the spouse of a "freeholder" under subparagraphs (1) and (2) immediately preceding."
Section 5. Amend §6.4.(g), of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by deleting the words "sixty (60) days" and inserting in place thereof the words "ninety (90) days".
Section 6. Amend §7.2 of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by deleting the fourth and fifth sentences thereof (beginning with "It shall be the duty of the Mayor…" and ending with "…administer oaths and affirmations.") and in place thereof inserting the following:
"The Mayor shall be authorized to administer oaths and affirmations. The Mayor shall perform such additional duties as are specifically imposed upon that office by this Charter, and as are specifically delegated to the Mayor by majority vote of the Town Council."
Section 7. Further Amend §7.2 of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by deleting the period (".") at the end of subparagraph 7.2.1 and inserting in place thereof the following:
"…and urgent, compelling circumstances prevent action being taken by the Town Council."
Section 8. Amend §7.5 of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by inserting the words "or his/her designee" after the words "…shall be the duty of the Treasurer…" in the first sentence thereof and by deleting the word "banking" and inserting in place thereof the word "financial" in the second sentence thereof.
Section 9. Amend §7.7 of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended be deleting the same in its entirety and inserting in place thereof the following:
"7.7 Code of Ethics; Contracts; Competitive Bidding.
7.7.1 Code of Ethics. The Town Council may, by ordinance, adopt a Code of Ethics to govern all members of the Town Council, officers, and employees of the Town.
7.7.2 Contracts; Competitive Bidding. The Town Council may, by ordinance, adopt standards and procedures to govern the Town's entering into contracts, purchasing, and competitive bidding.”
Section 10. Amend §7.8.2(a) of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by deleting the same in its entirety and in place thereof inserting:
"7.8.2(a) is no longer qualified as provided in §5.2 of this Charter to hold such office."
Section 11. Amend §7.8.2 of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by adding, as a new subparagraph 7.8.2(e) the following:
"7.8.2(e) is physically, mentally, and/or emotionally incapable of performing his/her duties."
Section 12. Amend §7.8.3 of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by deleting the second and third sentences thereof in their entirety (beginning with "Where the conditions set forth…") and in place thereof inserting the following:
"Where the conditions set forth in §7.8.2 (a), (b), or (e) are alleged, a preliminary discussion concerning "probable cause" to believe a forfeiture may have occurred shall be had by the Town Council in Executive Session. If the Town Council, in open session following such Executive Session, by a majority vote of its disinterested members, concludes that probable cause exists that a forfeiture under §7.8.2 (a), (b), or (e) has occurred, it shall, within 48 hours thereafter, provide written notice thereof to the affected Town Councilmember by certified mail, return receipt requested, sufficiently posted."
Section 13. Amend §7.10.2 of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by deleting the same in its entirety and in place thereof inserting the following:
"§7.10.2 Special Meetings. Special meetings of the Town Council shall be called upon the written request of the Mayor or any four members of the Council stating the day, hour, and place of such meeting, and the subject or subjects to be considered thereat. Notice of such meeting (stating the date, hour, and place of such special meeting, and the subject or subjects to be considered thereat) shall be given to the Mayor and each member of the Council at least 48 hours prior to the time set for the meeting, by overnight delivery, telegraph, telefacsimile, or email. The Mayor or any member of the Council may waive the prior notice requirement at any time prior to, at, or following such special meeting in writing, by telegraph, telefacsimile, email, or recorded telephonic message, and the submission of any such waiver shall make valid the holding of the special meeting. The attendance of the Mayor or any member of the Council at such special meeting for any purpose other than to protest the lack of adequate notice shall also constitute a waiver of the prior notice requirement. Subject to the scope of the notice, the Town Council shall have the same power and authority to enact all ordinances, adopt all regulations, resolutions and rules, pass all motions, make all orders, and transact all business at any such special meeting called for as aforesaid as Council has at a regular meeting. Provided however, that the aforesaid procedure shall not apply to any emergency meeting which is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety."
Section 14. Amend §7.11 of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by re-designating subparagraph 7.11.7 ("Compensation of Councilmembers") as subparagraph 7.11.8 and by inserting a new subparagraph 7.11.7 as follows:
"7.11.7 Participation and Voting by Remote Access. The Town Council is hereby authorized, by duly enacted ordinance, to provide that whenever unavoidable circumstances prevent the Mayor or any member of the Town Council from being physically present at any meeting of the Town Council at which a quorum is physically present, such person(s) may participate in the meeting, including the making or seconding of any motion and the casting of a vote on any motion, by remote electronic access (e.g. speaker telephone, videoconferencing equipment), provided that all persons present at the place of the meeting can hear and speak to the person(s) participating at the meeting; provided further, however, that the meeting shall not be presided over by any person not physically present at the meeting."
Section 15. Amend §8.5 of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by deleting the same in its entirety and inserting in place thereof a new 8.5 as follows:
"8.5 The Town shall maintain appropriate personnel records on all employees of the Town."
Section 16. Amend §10.2.2. of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by deleting the words "shall exceed 1%" and in place thereof inserting the word "shall exceed 1.5%".
Section 17. Amend §11 of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by deleting paragraph 11.2 in its entirety, and in place thereof inserting the following:
"11.2 Other amounts due the Town to be added to assessment list; Posting of Assessment List.
Whether utilizing the Sussex County assessments or those prepared by the Town's own Board of Assessment, the Town Council shall annually, prior to posting the assessment list, review and approve a list prepared by the Town Manager, of any and all charges, costs, fees, fines, penalties, and/or assessments owed to the Town (including all interest and penalties thereon), which list shall include, but not be limited to: assessments for the installation of sanitary sewage collection facilities, water distribution facilities, drainage facilities, sidewalks and curbs, streets, beach replenishments; amounts owed for availability or use of sanitary sewer systems, water distribution systems, solid waste collection; costs of condemning, razing, or demolishing structures done through expenditures of public ( e.g. federal, state, county, or town) funds; costs of making duly authorized improvements to the exteriors of buildings or premises done through expenditures of public funds (e.g. federal, state, county, or town); costs incurred to correct and abate nuisances; weed and grass cutting charges; license or permit fees, and fines or penalties duly imposed for violations of any Town code or ordinance. Said amounts, as reviewed and approved by the Town Council, shall be shown on the assessment list posted pursuant to the provisions of §9.3.2 of this Charter and any and all such amounts (in addition to the real estate taxes) shall, for convenience, be hereinafter referred to in §11 and §12 as 'taxes'."
Section 18. Amend §11.4 of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by deleting the word "banking" and inserting in place thereof the word "financial."
Section 19. Amend §11.6 of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by deleting the last sentence thereof and inserting in place thereof the following:
"In any proceeding (including, but not limited to attachment, monition, tax sale, debt action, or sale of lands pursuant to procedures set out in this Charter) for the collection of taxes and/or charges owed to the Town which have been added to the assessment list pursuant to §11.2 above, and which thereby constitute a lien against said property under §11.3, the Town Manager shall be entitled to collect, in addition to the amounts due and the penalties and/or interest thereon, all documented court costs, attorneys fees, and other reasonable and necessary out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the Town in such collection proceedings."
Section 21. Amend §12 of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by adding as a new paragraph 12.5 the following:
"12.5 In the event the Town brings any action at law (including seeking the imposition of a fine or penalty, the establishment of a lien, or the collection of an amount owed to the Town in an action for debt), or in equity, to enforce compliance with any town ordinance, or to correct and abate any nuisance, the Town shall, if it is the prevailing party in such action, be entitled to recover, as part of the judgment, in addition to any other amounts recovered, the Town's court costs (including all filing fees, court reporting charges, and expert witness fees) and its reasonable attorneys fees."
Section 22. Amend §18 of Chapter 268, Volume 69, Laws of Delaware, as amended by deleting the same in its entirety and inserting in place thereof the following:
"18.1 Power to Regulate. In order to provide for the orderly growth and development of the Town, to promote the health, safety, prosperity, and general welfare of the present and future inhabitants and property owners of the Town, to insure the conservation of property values and natural resources, including the protection and beauty of the Town's open lands, water resources, beaches, and recreation potential, to preserve the character of the Town as a single-family detached home community, and to afford adequate provisions for public utilities, water supply, drainage, sanitation, vehicular access, educational and recreational facilities, parkland and open space, among other and related activities, the Town shall regulate the subdivision of all land in the Town. Such regulation may, through ordinance, I
18.1.1 Varying procedures to insure the processing of plans to combine, partition, or subdivide or develop land, within a reasonable period of time, relative to the number of lots or parcels and/or relative to the extent of improvements required.
18.1.2 Procedures for insuring that the arrangement of the lots or parcels of land or improvements thereon shall conform to the existing zoning at the time of recordation and that streets or rights-of-way, bordering on or within subdivided or developed land shall be of such widths and grades and in such locations as may be deemed necessary to accommodate prospective traffic and interconnection with other public streets and highways, that adequate easements or rights-of-way shall be provided for drainage and utilities, that reservations of areas designed for use as public grounds shall be of suitable size and location for their designated uses, that sufficient and suitable monuments and signage shall be required, that land which might constitute a menace to safety, health or the general welfare shall be made safe for the purpose for which it is subdivided, and that adequate provision is made for water supply, fire protection, sanitary sewage, drainage, and other utilities is made.
18.1.3 Procedures to encourage and promote flexibility and ingenuity in the layout and design of subdivisions and land development, and to encourage practices which are in accordance with contemporary and evolving principles of site planning and development.
18.1.4 Requiring, through dedication of land, and/or improvements, money in lieu of land and/or improvements (including enlargement, expansion, improvement, or enhancement of existing municipal or public improvements) either on-site within the proposed subdivision or off-site and outside the proposed subdivision, which have a rational nexus to the proposed land subdivision, combining, or partitioning, or developing including, by way of example and not in limitation, the paving and/or widening of streets, installation of sidewalks, curbs, storm sewers, water lines, sanitary sewer lines, electric distribution lines, street signs, traffic signals, access roads, traffic lanes for turning, acceleration, and deceleration, playgrounds, parks, and open areas. In imposing such requirements, the Town may consider and take into account future as well as immediate needs, and potential as well as present population factors affecting the neighborhood in question.
18.1.5 Procedures to insure that any improvements to be constructed on such lands are in compliance with all appropriate Town ordinances and that the placement and location of such improvements will not have a significant negative impact on adjoining properties.
18.1.6 Procedures to secure financial guarantees from the developers of such lands to insure satisfactory completion of all such required improvements, which may include extending the term of such guarantee for a reasonable period of time (not exceeding three years) beyond the actual completion of such improvements by the developer or acceptance of such improvements by the Town.
18.2 Recording Unapproved Plans. In the event an ordinance of the Town so provides, no plat, plot, or plan of land shall be received for filing or recording by the Recorder of Deeds in and for Sussex County unless and until such plat, plot, or plan shall have been approved by the Town body so authorized to grant such approvals and the fact of such approval shall have been endorsed in writing upon such plan. If such ordinance so provides, any plat, plot, or plan recorded without approval in writing from the Town body so authorized to grant such approval shall be voidable by any court of competent jurisdiction."
Approved April 6, 2004