RG# 7220


Slaughter Beach
RG 9015-028-000: Slaughter Beach

As early as 1700, a community formed where two navigable rivers, the Mispillion River and Cedar Creek, emptied into the Delaware Bay. The Slaughter Beach community, along with its neighbor community just to the north, Cedar Beach, was one of a number of places located on the Delaware Bay which served as beach resorts for Delaware residents, and in the nineteenth century, the area had dance halls, hotels, and a boardwalk. In the twentieth century when the Atlantic Ocean beaches became more accessible, these bay communities lost favor as resort locations.


1900 – 1949

Slaughter Beach was incorporated in 1931 as “The Commissioners of the Town of Slaughter Beach.” Its northern and southern boundaries were a mile in each direction from where Bay Avenue intersected the road from Argos Corner. The eastern boundary was the Delaware Bay and the western boundary was a canal now called Slaughter Creek. Five Commissioners, who were to serve two-year terms, were to be elected to govern the Town. The election of the Commissioners was to be by weighted vote with one vote for each dollar or partial dollar of taxes paid. Voters could be male or female, but must be 21 or over, must own or lease property, and must have been a resident of the Town for at least nine months. A President, a Secretary, and a Treasurer were to be chosen from among the Commissioners. The President was to preside over meetings of the Commissioners at which he had the right to vote on all matters. The Commissioners were to meet in January, June, July, and August with additional special meetings being called as needed.  The appointed Town officials included an Alderman and Constables to keep the peace, a Town Collector to oversee the assessment process, and two Auditors of Accounts. The powers of the Town Commissioners were enumerated in the Act and included preserving the health of the Town and preventing the spread of infectious diseases, defining, preventing and abating nuisances, ascertaining and fixing the boundaries of boardwalks, streets, and sidewalks and improving same, regulating the construction of and repairs to chimneys, regulating and preventing the storage of inflammable or dangerous materials, investigating, abating and removing fire hazards, constructing, extending, and improving water mains, enacting laws for the safety, regulation and control of pedestrian, automobile and animal-drawn traffic on the streets, making and enforcing parking regulations, regulating or preventing the keeping of pigs, levying and collecting business license fees, and regulating the operation of public utilities. Slaughter Beach did not claim oversight over the road known as Bay Avenue. This road was to remain under the care of the Levy Court of Sussex County. The Commissioners were given the power to borrow money without referendum approval, as long as the amount did not exceed $3,000 in any one fiscal year and was repaid in four years. For the general tax, the Commissioners were not to levy more than $2,000 annually.1  


1950 – Current

Twenty-eight years later, in 1959, the first amendment to the 1931 Incorporating Act was passed. It revised the duties and powers of the Alderman and also increased the amount of taxes that could be levied to $5,000.2 In 1960, the territorial limits of the Town were extended to include the community of Cedar Creek which was located along the shore immediately to the north of the Town of Slaughter Beach.3 Several amendments to the 1931 Act were made in the 1970s. In 1976, a law made a number of changes among which were changing the references in the Act from President to Mayor, among them were eliminating the weighted voting in the general election, lowering the voting age to 18, increasing the number of regular meetings of the Commissioners to twelve, changing the fiscal year from beginning in January to beginning in June, and deleting the specific cap on the amount of taxes which could be levied annually.4 In 1977, the Town annexed ten acres at its northern end.5 In 1979, numerous amendments were made to update the 1941 Incorporating Act which included changing the corporate name to “The Town of Slaughter Beach,” changing from a Board of Commissioners to a Town Council, changing the Town’s borrowing power in one year to not exceed 0.5% of the assessed value of real property, and in aggregate not to exceed 3% of the total assessed value, and eliminating the requirement to appoint an Alderman.6 Some technical corrections to this Act were made a year later.7

Slaughter Beach was re-incorporated in 1993 as “The Town of Slaughter Beach,” and establishing a Charter. The territorial limits included the original boundary plus the two parcels that had been added since 1931. The Town Council continued to be made up of five members. They chose members of the Council to serve as the Mayor, Vice-Mayor, Secretary and Treasurer. The Mayor headed the Council and could vote as a member of that body. He also headed the Town government for all ceremonial purposes. The Town Council acts as the legislative body for the Town passing ordinances relating to its governance and they meet at least monthly. The Town Council exercises all powers conferred by the Charter in which thirty-four specific powers of the Town are enumerated. These expand on those included in the 1931 Incorporating Act in a number of ways. The Town can now acquire, hold, and dispose of real property, purchase and hold property taking through a property lien or abatement of a nuisance, take action to maintain streets or other structures in the Town, control jetties or bulkheads, alter the course of drainages or natural water courses, do what is necessary to prevent fires and contribute to a volunteer fire company, provide for the condemnation of buildings, establish zoning, regulate the subdivision of all land, impose impact fees on new development, and may collect a tax on the transfer of all real estate in the Town. The Town is empowered to borrow up to 1.5% to the Town’s taxable assessed value annually with a maximum indebtedness, in aggregate, not to exceed 3%. Any amount borrowed must be repaid within four years from the Town’s general fund. The taxing power of the Town is limited to 2% of the total assessed value of all taxable real estate.8

The 1993 Charter has been amended twice. In 2000, changes were made to the amount of compensation made to the Mayor, the Council and the Board of Adjustment.9 In 2015, revisions were made to the qualifications for holding elective office and the Town’s election process was updated to be consistent with state election law for municipalities.10

For the fully amended text of the current Charter, see http://www.charters.delaware.gov/slaughterbeach.shtml

CITATIONS in Del. Laws

1 37 Del. Laws, c. 167 (1931) [pp. 632-51]

2 52 Del. Laws, c. 44 (1959) [p. 105]

3 52 Del. Laws, c. 224 (1960) [pp. 513-14]

4 60 Del. Laws, c. 300 (1976) [pp. 930-32]

5 61 Del. Laws, c. 180 (1977) [pp.578-79]

6 62 Del. Laws, c. 101 (1979) [pp. 243-57]

7 62 Del. Laws, c. 232 (1980) [p. 506]

8 69 Del. Laws, c. 150 (1993) [pp. 323-37]

9 72 Del. Laws, c. 404 (2000) [p. 929]

10 80 Del. Laws, c. 15 (2015) [http://delcode.delaware.gov/sessionlaws/ga148/chp015.shtml]

Delaware Laws from 1935 to present can be found online at http://delcode.delaware.gov/sessionlaws/


Town of Slaughter Beach records at the Delaware Public Archives include:

  • Administrative Files (1975-1976): 7220-000-001
  • Minutes of the Commissioners/Town Council (1931-2002): 7220-000-002


jnl / October 5, 2018 | April 23, 2019