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RG# 7170


Ocean View
RG 9015-028-000: Ocean View

The 1800s

Around 1800, W.S. Hall opened a store on farmland he owned near White’s Creek, a tributary of the Indian River Bay. A village began to form around the store which served the needs of the nearby farmers and also became home to many watermen. Originally known as Hall’s Store, legend has it that the name was changed to Ocean View because the Atlantic Ocean, located just two miles to the east, could be seen from the second floors of homes. Its proximity to the ocean would play an ever increasing role in the Town’s future development.

Ocean View was first incorporated in 1889 as “The Town of Ocean View.” Its corporate boundaries were, for the most part, a triangular wedge of land bounded by the Assawoman Canal and White’s Creek and with Route 26 as its base, but also included a small piece of land to the south of Route 26. Governance of the Town was vested in an elected nine-member Council, one of whom was to serve as Council President. Council members served three-year, staggered terms, and the Council President, one-year. The Council met four times a year, in March, June September, and December. Appointed officials included an Alderman, a Treasurer, a Clerk, an Assessor, and Constables, all of whom served one-year terms. The Town Council was given the power to define and fix the boundaries of streets as well as opening new streets, regulate and make gutters and the place gutter stones, direct the graveling of footpaths and regulate their width, prevent obstructions in the streets, prevent animals from running at large in the street, prevent nuisances, suppress riotous and noisy assemblages, prevent gatherings which prevent the free use of the streets, preserve the health of the Town, proscribe building lines on lots, regulate the construction and repair of chimneys, regulate the storage of gunpowder and other combustible material, suppress bonfires and the setting off of firecrackers, and to regulate the keeping of dogs and provide for the registration of same. Voting was limited to male citizens 21 and over and a per capita tax was charged on them as well, whether or not they held property. Real and personal property was also assessed. The maximum amount of taxes to be levied annually on the Town’s citizens was not to exceed $200.1  


The 1900s

The 1889 Incorporating Act for Ocean View remained unchanged for over fourteen years. It was first amended in 1903 when the Levy Court of Sussex County increased the amount of money allocated for roads in Ocean View from $100 to $200.2 In 1915, Ocean View was authorized to borrow $1,000 for the maintenance and repair of street lights for which they ensured repayment through a special tax.3 In 1917, the allocation for road maintenance from Sussex County was increased to $400.4 Ten years later, the maximum amount that could be levied in taxes annually was doubled to $400 with a proviso that this amount could be increased to $600 after referendum approval. The same year, Ocean View was authorized to borrow $4,000 to use in providing water, light, sewer, fire equipment and also to improve the streets.5 The next amendment to the Incorporating Act was in 1955 when the Town was given the power to grant building permits and establish zoning.6 In 1957, a major change was made in the structure of the government when the Town Council was decreased from nine members to three. In addition, the local Justice of the Peace was allowed to function as the Town Alderman.7 In 1965, the 1889 Incorporating Act was amended to increase the maximum amount of taxes that could be levied annually to $10,000.8 Two years later, an amendment allowed for a penalty when a citizen was delinquent in paying their taxes. In addition, a new section was added to the Act to allow for annexing territory.9 In 1971, annual compensation for Council members was increased to $200.10 In 1972, the annual amount to be levied in taxes was increased to $30,000 annually.11 The last amendment to the 1889 Incorporating Act came in 1976 when the Town Council was increased from three to five members.12

The Town of Ocean View was re-incorporated in 1981 as a municipal corporation and was given all powers that are vested in such a body by the laws of Delaware. The Town had expanded its boundaries since being given the power to do so in 1967. The new territory was mainly south of Route 26. This Charter provided a process to allow for continued annexation of land. As it had since 1976, the Town’s government remained vested in a five-member Town Council who served three-year terms. One of the Council members was chosen by them to serve as President and act as Chief Administrative Officer for the Town. The Council was to meet monthly. Other Town officials appointed by the Council included a Town Clerk, a Treasurer, an Alderman, a Collector of Taxes, and a Town Solicitor. The Town was authorized to use the assessment data from Sussex County in order to determine the amount of tax for its citizens. The amount of tax that could be levied was limited to $10,000 annually. The Town was authorized to borrow money for municipal purposes by issuing municipal bonds. In aggregate, this debt could not exceed 15% of the assessed value of the Town’s real estate. They were not authorized to borrow monies to cover debts in advance of receipt of revenue, but with Council approval, could transfer funds from another unencumbered Town appropriation to cover a shortfall until revenue was received.13

The Charter was amended several times in the 1980s. In 1982, a law made technical corrections to the Charter.14 In 1987, the fee for business licenses was increased to a maximum of $400 annually.15 In 1988, the Town was authorized to collect a tax on the transfer of real estate within its limits.16 In 1989, the maximum tax to be levied annually was increased to $200,000.17 Several more amendments followed in the 1990s which was also a time when the Town was expanding in size. These included approving absentee balloting in 199018 and increasing the maximum amount of taxation to $300,000 annually in 1995,19 as well as another increase in the cap on taxes, to $500,000, in 1997.20


2000 – Current

In 2000, the Town was divided into four representative districts with one Council member representing each district and one at large. In addition, the Town’s boundaries were revised due to the annexation of land.21 In 2001, a law was passed which indicated that another parcel of land had been annexed to the Town, and it once again increased the maximum amount of municipal taxation to $1 million.22 Also in 2001, the Town of Ocean View was re-incorporated. The new Charter showed that the original Town boundary had been increased by almost 500 acres. Continued annexation of the territory was authorized in the Charter. Governance of the Town was vested in a Mayor and four-member Town Council. Each member of the Council represented a separate district and was required to live in that district. The Mayor was elected at large but was required to have a full-time home in the Town during the time they served as Mayor. The Mayor headed the Council and was a voting member. In addition to the Council, a Town Manager was to head the administrative branch of the Town government assisted by a Town Clerk, and a Chief Financial Officer was to oversee the Town finances. As in the 1981 Charter, all powers of the municipal corporation were conferred on the Mayor and Council. There was also an alphabetical list of specific powers. Except for the retirement of indebtedness, the amount to be levied for taxes annually was not to exceed $1 million. Assessments to determine the amount each taxpayer must pay in taxes were to be carried out every five years. The Council was empowered to borrow money for municipal improvements. If the amount to be borrowed was above 0.5% of the total assessable base, referendum approval was required. Bonded indebtedness, in aggregate, was limited to 25% of the assessable value of real estate. The Town was also authorized to borrow on a short-term basis in anticipation of revenue.23

Within days after the passage of the Charter, a law changed one of its provisions. The change allowed for a Councilperson, if elected Mayor, to remain in office up until the day on which they were sworn into their new position in the Town.24 Only two additional laws amended the 2001 Charter: in 2003, the annexation procedures were revised25 and in 2006, the $1 million limitation on the amount which could be levied in taxes was eliminated.26

The Town’s next reincorporation took place in 2009. Except in Article IV on Annexation, this Charter mirrors that of the 2001 Charter with each section is containing similar information.27 The 2009 Charter has been amended once, in 2018. This law eliminated the requirement for the Town to carry out an assessment every five years and allowed the Sussex County assessment process to substitute for the municipal assessment process. Assessments of new construction were to be carried out annually.28

For the fully amended text of the current Charter, see

CITATIONS in Del. Laws

1 18 Del. Laws, c. 649 (1889) [pp. 840-58]

2 22 Del. Laws, c. 429 (1903) [p. 899]

3 28 Del. Laws, c. 151 (1915) [pp. 456-57]

4 29 Del. Laws, c. 160 (1917) [p. 541]

5 35 Del. Laws, c. 126 and c. 127 (1927) [pp. 401-02 and pp. 403-05]

6 50 Del. Laws, c. 132 (1955) [p. 222]

7 52 Del. Laws, c. 267 and c. 268 (1960) [pp. 578-81 and p. 582]

8 55 Del. Laws, c. 288 (1965) [p. 822]

9 56 Del. Laws, c. 158 and c. 208 (1967) [p. 575 and pp. 691-95]

10 58 Del. Laws, c. 61 (1971) [p. 143]

11 58 Del. Laws, c. 403 (1972) [p. 1201]

12 60 Del. Laws, c. 319 (1976) [pp. 960-61]

13 63 Del. Laws, c. 64 (1981) [pp. 93-104]

14 63 Del. Laws, c. 245 (1982) [p. 508]

15 66 Del. Laws, c. 44 (1987) [p. 81]

16 66 Del. Laws, c. 326 (1989) [p. 701]

17 67 Del. Laws, c. 112 (1989) [p. 299]

18 67 Del. Laws, c. 300 (1990) [p. 692]

19 70 Del. Laws, c. 225 (1995) [p. 568]

20 72 Del. Laws, c. 178 and c. 183 (1999) [p. 310 and p. 317]

21 72 Del. Laws, c. 263 and c. 264 (2000) [pp. 464-65 and pp. 465-68]

22 73 Del. Laws, c. 3 and c. 11 (2001) [pp. 33-34 and p. 52]

23 73 Del. Laws, c. 202 (2001) [pp. 479-98]

24 73 Del. Laws, c. 215 (2001) [p. 529]

25 74 Del. Laws, c. 25 (2003) [pp. 21-23]

26 75 Del. Laws, c. 312 (2006) [p. 408]

27 77 Del. Laws, c. 399 (2010) [vol. II, pp. 363-77]

28 81 Del. Laws, c. 246 (2018) []

Delaware Laws from 1935 to present can be found online at


Town of Ocean View records at the Delaware Public Archives include:

  • Administrative Files (1959-1998): 7170-000-001
  • Program Census Records (1960, 1998): 7170-000-002
  • Minutes of the Commissioners/Town Council (1889-1992): 7170-000-003
  • Audit Reports (1962-1994): 7170-000-004
  • Grant Files (1960-1998): 7170-000-005
  • Tax Assessment Records (1910-1911, 1976-2007): 7170-000-006
  • Receipt Book (1889-1903): 7170-000-007
  • Appeal Files of the Board of Assessment (1972-1990): 7170-000-008
  • Property Record Cards (2002-2012): 7170-000-009


jnl / September 27, 2018 | April 23, 2019

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