Letters to the Editor
Reader says plans increase risks
As currently proposed, the Old Mill Landing development will directly worsen the risks for pollution and flooding of the Dirickson Creek.
Dirickson Creek is already listed as “impaired” under the federal Clean Water Act for bacteria and nutrients. This means that its level of pollutants and bacteria make it unsafe for skin exposure and for eating its wildlife. Its levels of phosphorus and nitrogen are excessive and its dissolved oxygen levels are low.
Recovery from this situation depends on several factors, two of which are presence of forests and hydric soils that absorb pollutants. Plans for this development include significant tree removal, interference with hydric soils, increased impervious surfaces and runoff into the creek. All this will worsen pollution.
The Dirickson Creek watershed is historically prone to flooding. In addition, at this time its land is sinking and sea levels are rising. Especially as weather patterns change, the creek’s flooding will be more severe and more frequent.
As currently proposed, the Old Mill Landing development will seriously impair the function of forestland and hydric soils to minimize effects of flooding. This will affect all residents directly along the creek and in the entire watershed.
The Sussex County Planning & Zoning hearing for this development proposal is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, at 6 p.m. at the County Chambers, 2 The Circle, Georgetown, Del. 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.
Reader: Congress must lower drug prices
I am an older retired American, and I want my members of Congress to address skyrocketing prescription drug prices. There are bipartisan proposals in Congress to fix this — so this is the moment to finally enact legislation into law. It’s time to act and get control of runaway drug costs in America and ensure that seniors can afford the medications they so desperately need.
Like many seniors, I cannot afford to keep paying higher and higher prices for the medications I need. No one should have to choose between putting food on the table and filling life-saving prescriptions.
I’m demanding that my members of Congress vote yes on a bill that lowers drug prices.
Readers weigh in on proposed wind farm
The public meeting at Indian River High School on Nov. 19 provided significant questions and revelations. The most troubling is the willing readiness of individuals who purport to provide leadership and vision representing the best interests of Fenwick Island, to undertake a project that is detrimental to the coastal environment and the coastal community,
Advocates for improvements to the Fenwick Park and the development of offshore wind farms present this ill-conceived plan as a simple and beneficial endeavor to be embraced because it is a “public/private partnership.” Perhaps it is to those profiting from the implementation. It is clearly not beneficial to the coastal community or environment.
It is worthy of vigorous opposition, and the manner in which it has been conceived and planned is contemptible. This is a “political-bureaucrat-developer partnership” that has seemingly sought to circumvent an effective citizen-representative partnership.
A recurring theme of advocacy is “The Big Picture.” This is a classic misconception at best. and devious manipulation at worst. to justify and obscure the real threats of unintended consequences. The advocacy data, studies, surveys, seem superficially impressive, are in fact, presumptive conjecture and miss the point.
The TV interview with Joy Webber illustrates the arrogant, self-serving, attitude suggesting the residents are fearful, and do not understand the issues. She is correct to suggest fear. Fear of unintended consequences, fear of known detrimental consequences, fear of political incompetence or worse corruption.
What is woefully lacking is not a “big picture,” but a focused one. The present convolution of the wind farm/park plan attempts to divert attention by intertwining public safety, recreational opportunity, environmental concerns to suggest the project is desirable simply by meeting the attributes of being a “public/private” venture.
The blending of the park development and wind farm projects merely obfuscates the underlying financial quid pro quo strategy. Such characterization sounds like a step toward collaborative problem solving and resource optimization. This project is neither. The wind farm does not benefit the State of Delaware.
Any future attempt to modify the concept with advocacy nuanced alternatives will not alter the facts. To achieve any significance, the wind farm leased land would need to be maximally developed.
Fenwick Park is the “power connection point” for one simple reason: money. It is the shortest route from the wind farm to shore. It is the shortest time frame for funding Department of Parks and DNREC initiatives. Shortest is an equivalent to minimal financial expenditures maximum financial profit.
It may seem good fundamental business goals, but it is myopic public policy. It is painfully obvious that principled political decisions are increasingly intentional power grabs. This wind farm project is like grabbing hold of a downed power line. It is a terminal harmful act.
It does not have the support of the Fenwick coastal community. Implementation of this is a deliberate and irrevocable decimation of a specific place, a specific environment, that is a valued “natural resource” with a long history of legislation to be preserved and protected.
The coastal community is perhaps the only aspect of this that should be viewed as a “big picture,” including residents, visitors, wildlife, inhabitants of sea, migratory creatures at sea and in the air, the fisherman who feed us, ships and planes who supply and transport us.
This project is a “pixelated picture” political/developer project. A picture obscured in generalities and ideologies that camouflage the reality that can only be revealed from a certain angle. When navigating in total darkness or fog, it is vital to have a simple low-tech compass. This project demands reliable leadership as its compass.
There is substantial research and testimony that details the detrimental effects of implementing the windfall/power conversion in Fenwick Park. Effects that commence with the initiation of construction and do not end with project completion.
The “big picture issues” include but are not limited to adverse impacts on health, public safety, tourism, the coastal environment and wildlife, commercial fishing, even national defense. The current project conveniently avoids the future expansion of the wind farm to the maximum capacity of the lease area and the need for addition power conversion stations. Despite repeated requests for actual dimensions of the power station, all that has been offered is conceptual footprints from an aerial view.
One thing that can be seen is that the future is not better but worse by intent and design. Again this effects of implementation are not short term, they will be permanent.
To DNREC and Parks, understand we vehemently oppose this. You have the opportunity to get effective support and efficient guidance from the coastal community regarding park improvements. Or, choosing indifference or defiance, destroy the values and resources you and your organization are purported to champion, and erode the good will and respect you have enjoyed in their transition of conservation land stewardship of natural resource.
There is an apparent eagerness to dismiss your constituency of Delaware residents, ignore existing lawful responsibilities, then impotently pass the buck to the federal government. The actions to date and comments of Nov. 19 indicate an abdication of leadership. Project opponents seem viewed as Don Quixote, jousting with windmills. Clandestine agreements and understandings underscore the apparent intent to make opposition an impossible dream.
In fact, the only impossible dream is the notion that this project, which provides no benefit to Delaware, will somehow avoid the inevitable destructive consequences not in the near term, not in the long term, but forever!
Of course, there is time for wisdom and leadership to emerge. It is ironic, that this proposed project, which serves Maryland, to the detriment of Delaware, was effectively and eloquently challenged by the mayor of Ocean City.
It was apparent that many who spoke in opposition to these projects were technically, legally, scientifically and financially, more astute than those making the advocacy presentation. The potential exists to achieve meaningful support for better park improvement plans by simply disconnecting from the disastrous wind farm proposal. In reality, the only connection made by DNREC and the Parks Department seems to be a quick grab for cash to support inappropriate overdevelopment of the existing park.
As for public input the online survey for the park project is feeble and superficial, the “gracious” extension of the deadline for input to Dec. 3, immediately following the Thanksgiving weekend, is timed to inconvenience and constrain public input. A true concern for open-minded problem-solving and public participation would not see the need for such a short timeline. I urge you to extend the deadline and expand the opportunities for public response.
Be clear. We join those who vehemently object to the proposed project. If my assessment of your vision, leadership or intent is mistaken, it will be obvious by your proactive actions to join in opposition to the proposed development in Fenwick Park.
Richard and Shari Robinson
Readers ask residents to come out to meeting
Sussex County Council is considering yet another development (near) Ocean View, at the intersection of Muddy Neck Road and Parker House Road. They are considering rezoning for three three-story apartment buildings with a total of 45 units on less than 4 acres that DelDOT projects could add another 500 vehicles per day to the area.
This will significantly impact the surrounding developments and roads, which have not had any improvements to absorb this additional traffic, noise or water drainage, nor have safety issues been addressed. One big reason our family purchased a home in this area was because it lived up to “The Quiet Resort” slogan.
Please come out to the county council meeting in Georgetown on Dec. 10, at 6 p.m., and voice your “No” to the council.
Pat and Karen Ruby
Reader offers thoughts on wind farm
Your readers who are property owners living within 3 miles of the ocean between Rehoboth Beach and Fenwick Island recently received a letter with the heading “Save Our Beach View.” I was one of 37,000 in our area who received this missive from the Caesar Rodney Institute. CRI refers to their organization as a libertarian think tank. Others call them a right-wing pressure group.
The purpose of the letter is to urge local residents to oppose a planned offshore wind farm. The Skipjack Wind Farm will be located 19 miles out to sea off of the Maryland-Delaware border in a location chosen by the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management after receiving significant public and stakeholder input.
The wind farm will be built by the world’s leading offshore wind developer and will generate enough clean energy to power 35,000 homes while significantly reducing carbon emissions.
But none of those facts are in the letter. The letter instead resorts to misinformation, half-truths, red herrings, cherry-picked data, and a false and deceitful photograph in an effort to frighten residents into supporting the priorities and position of CRI.
They are mostly concerned with their unobstructed view of the horizon and their perceived future property values. What they don’t tell you is that due to the curvature of the earth, for a 6-foot-tall person at the beach, the distance to the horizon is 3 miles. Of course, if you’re on a rooftop balcony right on the coast, your horizon is much farther, but not very many of us have that problem. On all but the clearest days of the year, the wind turbines will be barely visible from the beach.
What the letter never mentions is why this wind farm is being built at all. The people at CRI seem to think that climate change doesn’t exist or is some kind of hoax, which we should ignore. But, the United Nations Environment Program released a report last week and chose to describe humanity’s future as “bleak.”
Our planet is warming. Oceans are rising, ice shelves and glaciers are melting, coral reefs are disappearing, hurricanes, typhoons and tornados are becoming stronger and more frequent and fires are burning everywhere. It will get worse.
The U.N. report tells us that we have failed to stop the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions, meaning that deeper and faster cuts are now required than if we had taken serious action a decade ago. So, we must do what we can now to ensure our planet’s health in the future.
On the bright side, the cost of renewable energy has dropped significantly so that wind and solar power are now cost-competitive with fossil fuels sources of electricity.
I’m fortunate that I live near enough to the beach that I can easily walk or ride my bike there, which I do almost daily throughout the year. I love the beach and the ocean. It is different every day, but it is always beautiful. It is also almost always breezy.
I want my grandchildren and their grandchildren to be able to experience the peace and beauty of the beach and neither I, nor they, will care if a few wind turbines are occasionally in view way out in the ocean. We do not have the time or the luxury to remain selfish and shortsighted on this issue.
The letter from CRI included a very brief survey about your opinions on this issue, and they urge you to fill it out and return it. I urge you to do the same, but when you are thinking about these questions, try to think of them from your grandchildren’s point of view. How would they want you to answer?
We can all do a little more to ensure that we leave a healthy planet for future generations, but we must first accept that there is a problem and that we all share the responsibility to solve it. So walk or bike instead of using the car if you can, put down the leaf blower and pick up a rake or a broom, put on a sweater rather than turning up the heat and, by all means, build wind farms and reduce the planet killing burning of fossil fuels. Your grandkids will love you for it.
Reader: We need affordable housing
Despite strong opposition from local residents at the Oct. 24 Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission meeting, a rezoning request for Gulfstream Development to build a 45-unit apartment complex on Muddy Neck Road at Parker House Road was approved by that commission.
Yes, we need affordable housing in this resort area, but this proposed development is not the solution. On just 3.9 acres, the development is so compact that there is no room for a water retention pond for storm water runoff that could flow into the Shady Dell and Providence communities, even though the developer plans to use permeable pavement like the kind used on Woodland Avenue, and if it is not properly maintained it is of little value; there is no “green space” for the residents to gather; it is doubtful that fire trucks or large delivery vehicles could turn around in the parking lot; there are no sidewalks or bicycle paths in the area.
Further, it will create a new intersection with Butler Boulevard at Muddy Neck Road. Butler Boulevard is used by 12 private residences to access Muddy Neck Road. The proposed entrance/exit to the new development is directly across from Butler Boulevard, and DelDOT estimates the new development will add another 500 vehicle trips daily at Muddy Neck Road and Butler Boulevard. In addition, this new access point is just 210 feet from the intersection with Parker House Road; 235 feet from a blind curve on Muddy Neck Road; and directly adjacent to a commercial produce stand.
In a letter to the County Planning Zoning Commission regarding the proposed development, DelDOT informed the commission that their 2018 traffic study found that 3,728 vehicles travel Muddy Neck Road daily; while 1,646 vehicles use Parker House Road. According to DelDOT’s 2018 report, the last traffic count on Muddy Neck Road was done in 2017; the last count on Parker House Road was done in 2014.
The report does not indicate if the count was done in the winter or the summer and does not take into account the five new developments that were approved within the past two years and within two miles of the proposed apartment complex. Despite all these safety issues, DelDOT will not conduct a traffic impact study because the additional 500 daily vehicle trips created by Gulfstream’s development falls below the number needed to conduct an impact study.
In addition to the traffic and safety concerns, the addition of a three-story apartment complex is incompatible with the area of single-family homes and townhomes. Representatives for Gulfstream LLC say the new development is similar to buildings in the adjoining Providence community. The difference is that Providence is a three-story townhouse community, not three buildings with 45 units.
Gulfstream also plans to offer the apartments with a six-month lease that will eventually result in more seasonal resort housing for tourists, rather than local residents. Why doesn’t the County buy the property and convert it to “green space” for use by the hundreds of residents who occupy all the Council-approved and newly developed land in this area?
Please attend the Sussex County Council meeting on Dec. 10 at 1:30 p.m. to voice your opinion on this issue.
Bridle Ridge Estates