Letters to the Editor
Reader speaks out on proposed development
We’re used to this old news: “New Development planned; stand by for lost forests, wildlife displacement, increased pollution, burying of historic treasures, increased flooding risks, and of course, increased traffic.”
Some may respond: “Nothing can be done about it.” We think something can be done, and here’s the opportunity: Old Mill Landing development proposal hearing!
Readers of your paper live in the “environmentally sensitive zone,” but preservation and protection of the environment has been way down the list of priorities in development in our area. This not only causes loss of ecological treasures, but also contributes to pollution and increased flooding risks.
Our group, Dirickson Creek Friends, is working to decrease the negative environmental impact of the Old Mill Landing development, which is proposed to border Dirickson Creek and is centered at the junction of Old Mill Bridge Road and Millers Neck Road. We will appear at the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission hearing for this development to strongly recommend that amendments to the proposal are needed to preserve mature forests and hydric soils. We also will press for proper preservation of important historical sites on the property and for a new traffic impact study.
The hearing will be on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, at the County Council Chambers, 2 The Circle, Georgetown, Del., starting at 6 p.m. We urge residents to attend the hearing, to testify if they can, and also to express their opinions on this matter to the Planning & Zoning Commission at https://sussexcountyde.gov/contact-planning-zoning-commission or at P.O. Box 417, Georgetown, DE 19947.
Your voice matters!
Reader expresses concern over radiation
This past Tuesday’s (Nov. 19, 2019) public meeting with Delaware legislators, DNREC, State Parks, and Orsted Wind Energy representatives was held at the Indian River High School. The entire school auditorium was filled, and 99 percent of those in attendance voiced total opposition to all the proposed improvements for the Fenwick Island State Park, and that the natural character of the park should be left untouched.
The park is an ecologically sensitive area that contains wildlife and protected species, so a two-story concrete parking garage, pickleball courts, a pedestrian overpass across Route 1 and a new nature center are all out of character in this park.
Medical clinicians at the meeting spoke about cancer and the danger surrounding electro-magnetic radiation associated with high-voltage electric cables. It’s no wonder Delmarva Electric places their high voltage cables and transfer equipment at fenced-in locations so the general public is kept safely away from magnetic radiation. The thought that the State’s guardian of our environment would allow families to vacation in a public park that contains high-voltage cables and substation utilities is both incomprehensible and unsafe.
At the meeting, I asked if there were other sites along the Atlantic coast where Orsted could land their high-voltage cables. Orsted’s rep said there were other sites, but “the park was the most efficient.”
I also noted that Del. Code Title 7 and DNREC’s Administrative Code state that a lease application for a utility (use) can be denied for, “…[the] likelihood of …electromagnetic interference,” “impact on scenic beauty of the surrounding area,” and “effect on adjacent residential areas” (ex. loss of property values).
Secretary Garvin agreed that DNREC has the authority to deny a utility lease application in the Fenwick Island State Park. Given that Orsted has alternative sites available, I implore DNREC’s Secretary Garvin deny all binding utility lease applications in the park.
Apartment complex gets attention of reader
The Sussex County Council’s public hearing for the 45-unit apartment complex will be held on Dec. 10, 2019, at 1:30 p.m.
The Planning & Zoning Commission received 821 letters of opposition to the proposed 45-unit apartment complex. Thirty-one communities were represented. And many owners and residents attended and spoke at the Oct. 24, 2019, meeting in opposition to these applications.
Still, the commission decided to approve both the zoning and conditional-use changes at their Nov. 14, 2019, meeting. It is unacceptable that the commission voted in favor of one builder and did not listen to the voices of hundreds of owners and residents.
This property is located in the Ocean View area, directly across from the produce stand on Muddy Neck Road, at the Muddy Neck Road and Parker House Road intersection. These apartments are rental units placed in the heart of communities among residents who own their properties. This is not consistent with nearby uses. And these “market-rate” rental units will be leased for short terms, as short as six months according to the builder, Robert Harris.
Even the Planning & Zoning Commission appeared disappointed that these apartments do not qualify as true affordable housing. These so called affordable “market-rate” units mean seasonal vacation rentals in our neighborhoods. This development will have an adverse impact on neighboring properties and communities. Traffic, noise, congestion, trash, crime, safety, area flooding, etc., are just a few of the concerns addressed by the residents.
And there is no public transportation available along this roadway. There are no designated pedestrian or bike paths along most of these roadways. Safety concerns are already an issue, as proven by the reduced speed limit along Muddy Neck Road from 45 mph to 35 mph. And lastly, we do not want to set a precedent that will allow other undeveloped properties along these roads to be rezoned and developed in the same high-density manner.
The Sussex County Council has a public hearing on this matter scheduled for Dec. 10, 2019, at 1:30 p.m. We need to let our elected officials hear our voices by attending this meeting. At the very least, we need to contact them and let them know we are opposed to these applications made by Gulfstream Development and request that they deny these applications.
We are owners who invested in the Ocean View area. These seasonal renters will be leasing to enjoy the beaches with no true investment in the community. Property owners pay fees to keep their common areas maintained. How do we prevent these renters from using neighboring properties when they want to walk, ride a bike, or walk their dogs because they have very little green space for such recreational activities?
We cannot give up. The final decision is made by the Sussex County Council. So, please help by writing, faxing or emailing our Sussex County Council members. Please let your council members know that you do not want this property rezoned from AR-1 to GR, which would allow a greater density. And you do not want to see this conditional-use request granted in order to build a 45-unit apartment complex. Please ask our elected officials to deny applications C/Z #1895 and C/U #2195.
And remember, all correspondence must be received and accepted by the Council prior to the Dec. 10, 2019, meeting. Send letters of opposition to Sussex County Council, 2 The Circle, P.O. Box 589, Georgetown, DE 19947, or Fax (302) 855-7749, or email Janelle.Cornwell@sussexcountyde.gov.
Keeley weighs in on wind farm proposal
There have been a number of letters lately concerning the coastal wind farm proposed for off of Fenwick Island. “Not in my back yard” seems to be the common rallying cry!
As I understand it, Ocean City, Md., has totally rejected any wind farm off of its beaches. But our neighbors in Fenwick Island, Del., and the State of Delaware seem to be torn with the “gift/deal/bribe” of $18,000,000 of improvements to the Fenwick Island State Park as a reward for allowing the electricity generated miles off the park to be delivered to a transmission station in Little Assawoman Bay, inland of the park.
It seems to me that there are three things of primary concern with this quandary. First, is that no one seems to want to “see” any sign of the wind farm from shore, i.e., NIMB. Ocean City’s position has been clearly stated. Fenwick Island’s position has to be determined.
Personally, I think the position of “no” visibility is silly. Does anyone notice the numerous telephone and electrical transmission poles that line our streets and highways? Or the ugly TV antennas that are attached to so many of our homes and businesses? Or even those towers supporting the high-voltage wires from substation to substation? I do not think we do, because we are now use to them being there and we enjoy their benefits.
Second is why is it being placed off of Fenwick Island? The answer is simple, Ocean City has rejected wind farms along their pristine beaches! But Delaware seems to be considering an $18,000,000 “gift/deal/bribe” to enhance an aging and overused state park.
And the third, and I don’t believe it has gotten much attention to date, is who will benefit, i.e., use the electricity generated from the wind farm proposed off of Fenwick Island? And the answer is, electricity users in Maryland!
Am I missing something here? Think about this scenario. What if Ocean City accepted wind farms off of their beaches and Maryland could use some parcel of land of their own through which offshore wind farm generated electricity could be delivered. And if these two things happened, what would Maryland say if that electricity would be delivered to users in Delaware?
Food for thought!
Thomas M. Keeley III
Reader urges the gift of a breeze for future
Let’s remind ourselves of the truth that the world’s leading scientists and others have been sharing with us for years: climate change is real, levels of greenhouse gases (e.g. CO², methane) are rising and causing global temperatures to rise, ice masses are melting worldwide, and sea levels are increasing; extreme weather events are now the norm.
In short, those charged with caring for Mother Earth, us humans, are destroying it. We’re ruining that which gives us our soil, our clean water and air, all that makes life possible. CO² levels, currently 412 parts per million and rising faster than ever, have never been greater since civilization began.
As President Obama noted: “…there’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.”
The climate situation is real and urgent, and demands the attention of and response from each one of us. The answers are many and real and tangible (e.g. lowering thermostats in winter, increasing insulation and LED use, recycling better, planting trees, buying carbon offsets, walking and biking more, etc.), but, as noted writer and advocate Bill McKibben advises, becoming aware (respecting the facts, the science, the truth), rallying (e.g. voting), and supporting renewable energy (wind and solar) are the most effective.
What’s proposed for Fenwick Island is a powerful answer. The economy will benefit as jobs in renewable energy continue to grow. Studies (Firestone and Parson 2018, Biggar Economics 2016) suggest that the net effect of windmills on tourism is negligible and even slightly positive; I, for one, am inspired by the Lewes windmill as it steadily turns to provide all the electricity needed for the University of Delaware campus there, as well as for 10 percent of the citizens of Lewes.
Fishing likely will be better, as is found at the wind farm less than four miles off the coast of Block Island, R.I.: the windmill foundations improve habitat for fish and associated marine life. At about 20 miles out, the proposed windmills will be about the size of your thumbnail; this seems remarkably insignificant given the smokestacks and pollution (e.g. smog, acid rain, oil spills) and extreme weather (e.g. historic wildfires raging in California) that come with fossil fuels.
To care for our neighbors, for our kin, for the animals and plants and all that sustains us, to enjoy life, or even to live, we must change our ways. We must spend more time outdoors appreciating nature, we must consume less, we must control our numbers and we must get our energy, ultimately, from the sun. For the sake of our children and grandchildren and theirs, we can do better. We must.
Peter K. McLean