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Town of South Bethany Releases Statement On Underage Drinking

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South Bethany Property Owners,

In light of an event that occurred this summer in our town – an event which has garnered a lot of recent media attention – the Town of South Bethany would like to remind all of our residents and visitors that the Town has procedures in place specifically dealing with June activities.

With our pristine mile-long beach and our 5-mile network of canals, South Bethany is proudly known as one of the Quiet Resorts where memories are made.

Every year in June, however, our tranquility can be disturbed by high school seniors, who are affectionately referred to as “June Bugs.” Parents of high school seniors rent homes in the beach areas to celebrate senior graduation. This year, the eight June Bug related complaints were the lowest they’ve been since the “June Bug” program started in 2009 when there were a total of 30 complaints recorded. This is due to the Town’s proactive approach towards deterring disturbances and criminal activity via excellent working relationships with realtors and residents, and consistent community policing efforts.

This yearly “June Bug” process begins in February when a letter is sent to all South Bethany property owners with the contract to be signed declaring their property as a rental property. This letter is to remind them thatdisturbances such as property destruction, underage drinking, use and possession of drugs, or disorderly conduct, especially during this celebratory month, will not be tolerated.

The process continues through the spring as the Police Chief meets with each of the real estate agencies to ensure a form will be completed for each rental providing the dates and name of the person(s) renting. A “June Bug” flyer is distributed to all rental property owners to be displayed in their rental property – the flyer is also given by rental agents to their clients.

During the month of June, South Bethany officers patrol the areas that are rented with more frequency.   If officers respond to a complaint involving a rental property and the property owner is not present at the residence when officers arrive, the Chief of Police will send a letter to the owner detailing the nature of the complaint and what enforcement actions were taken. The letter also reminds the owner of the Town’s strict policy on maintaining peace and good order.

HOWEVER, although this process is in place, many of the incidents that occur are the result of poor or absent supervision by parents. Parents often rent the homes and then disappear from the scene, leaving teenagers to fend for themselves. Many parents allow underage drinking inside the homes, believing this is acceptable as long as the teenagers do not drive.

The diminished number of complaints/reports indicates we are on the right track, but any occurrences that disturb neighboring homeowners and rental families are unacceptable.The Town has and will continue to strictly enforce the Town Code relative to Peace and Good Order.

Disorderly behavior/conduct is prohibited by Town Code Article 100-2 and Delaware State Law (Title 11, Section 1301). Disorderly behavior consists of, but is not limited to: Engaging in fighting or in violent or threatening behavior, or making an unreasonable noise or offensive coarse utterance, gesture or display; addressing abusive language to any person, obstructing traffic, creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition, or refusing to comply with a lawful order of a police officer to cease and desist. Delaware State laws prohibit underage drinking.

In previous years, arrests have been made for underage drinking, possession of drugs, excessive noise, and fighting. Loud parties have been shut down by police, renters have been evicted by realtors for excessive noise complaints, and chaperones have been arrested for a disorderly house.

Penalties for offenses to Article 100-2: Offenders are subject to fines up to $100.00 plus court costs for each day of the violation. After two offenses, the rental license may be suspended or permanently revoked. Offenders are also subject to criminal arrest pursuant to DE State Laws.

The Town welcomes visitors of all ages but always strives to keep South Bethany the “Quiet Resort” and the “Best Little Beach in Delaware.”

The Town wishes everyone a very happy and safe holiday season!

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