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Incorporated in 1885 with a unique circular boundary, the town of Magnolia's original charter called for a five-member town council to be elected by vote of the freeholders within the town. One of the five members elected was to be chosen president. The council was to subsequently appoint a treasurer, clerk, and an assessor.1

Once in place, the town council was to elect a suitable resident of the town to assume the position of alderman. His duties were to execute all laws of the town and to carry out the orders of the council. The alderman was to have the powers of a justice of the peace and could arrest, hold for bail, fine, or imprison offenders.2

The council was also to appoint a town constable, who, in conjunction with the alderman, was to suppress all manner of disturbances and bring offenders of the laws to justice either through fines or incarceration in the Kent County jail. (Note: This arrangement lasted through the mid 1970's, when the council began contracting with the Delaware State Police to provide the town with police protection).3

In 1957, the Legislature authorized a referendum to be held in Magnolia to decide whether the boundaries of the town should be extended in order to annex previously unincorporated areas. Due to the limited services provided by the town, however, residents of the areas in question felt they would simply acquire a greater tax burden with few advantages. The referendum was defeated.4

Possibly in response to this defeat, the town was reincorporated in 1960 with the scope of the town's governmental authority greatly expanded. The council, with one member now designated as Mayor, was authorized to provide fire protection and an electrical supply (either directly or by contract); to increase its borrowing limits to help finance these services; and to establish zoning ordinances which were to control growth within the town.5

The legislature in 1972 provided Magnolia's outlying property owners with the ability to band together and request annexation but at present, the town's boundaries remain unchanged.6

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1 17 DL, ch. 568.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 51 DL, ch. 257.

5 52 DL, ch. 264.

6 58 DL, ch. 589.

jrf/April 26, 1988; June 13, 1988