The Sussex County Board of Adjustment (BoA) this week denied an application from the Bethany Beach Police Department for a special-use exception to operate a shooting range on a piece of Town property in unincorporated Frankford.
We are not going to debate if this is the right or wrong decision based on the law. For one thing, this was a special-use exception, so the law did not unequivally state that the property in question could be used for this purpose. For another, it was the reasoning of BoA members for their decision that stood out to us the most.
During a Feb. 29 hearing on the issue, 34 people came to make their voices heard against the exception. They were neighbors to the property, and they argued that a shooting range in their neighborhood would increase noise pollution, pose potential danger to pets and children who live there and could decrease their property values.
They spoke passionately, reached out to local media sources to make sure they were in attendance and made their collective voices heard.
“I’m not in favor of it,” said BoA member E. Brent Workman. “I think it will affect neighboring properties. There are 34 people against it — there’s got to be a reason they’re against it.”
“The area that the application is applied for is a growing area, and I would certainly have to say that the 34 residents present in opposition at the hearing certainly did present evidence that in their minds it will substantially affect adversely the uses of adjacent and neighboring properties in that area.”
The BoA, in short, listened to the people. John Mills, the lone vote to allow the exception, said he appreciates the concerns of the opposition, but that he feels they were mostly speculative. That means, to us, he listened, too, but just disagreed.
This was good government. We applaud the BoA for listening.