Letters to the Editor -- June 14, 2013

Frankford resident objects to police patrol

I’m wondering what the fine people of Ocean View are thinking while their community goes less protected so a police officer can sit in his/her vehicle on the Assawoman Canal bridge at Double Bridges Road, miles from Ocean View proper, to give speeding tickets.

I understand that properties were annexed into the town limits in that vicinity, giving policing rights to Ocean View, but right now they are just properties, with no residents or structures. Heaven forbid there should be a true “event” and he/she is patrolling the bridge! Mr. Mayor, Mr. Police Chief, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, you should be embarrassed by your greed, or ignorance, whichever it is.

Wake up, Ocean View, and demand the protection you are paying for. Bring the police back to town!

Jeffrey Chandross

Reader enjoyed event in Lewes

I attended, as did 31 other local ladies on this past Tuesday, a “Strawberry Tea” at the GFWC Zwaanendael Women’s Club’s historical meeting house on 3rd Street and Savannah Road in Lewes.

The following ladies outdid themselves with the food made (chilled strawberry soup, berry iced tea, chicken salad sandwiches, roast beef, quiche, strawberry salad, chocolate-covered strawberries and strawberry shortcake were just a few of the items that were served) and served by Chair Pat Zisa, Linda Ritthaler, Jean Marie Johr, Adrienne Ponzini, Marie Smith, Inge Gallagher, Dottie Pepe and Maxine Ungerbuehler.

A presentation by Sharon of the Lavender Farm out of Lewes was very informative. If you haven’t attended one of these teas, look for them at different times of the year. They are working on a schedule for after September. Usually, the calendar of events in the local newspapers announces these items, beside small articles about the upcoming events.

Muriel Pfeiffer, Past President
GFWC Zwaanendael Women’s Club

Reader asks residents to be heard in Bethany

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to citizens of Bethany Beach and was sent to the Coastal Point for publication.

Our town as we know it has an existential stake in the outcome of the Burbage/Town Council boardwalk hotel gambit. “Gambit” seems the right word to describe the path by which we, as tax-paying citizens, have come to be expected to swallow the Council’s hotel, along with a park that no one knew we needed until the Town clear-cut what may have been one of the last true patches of green in our formerly quiet resort.

We have been led along a circuitous route toward our very own heartbreak hotel. Pretzel logic took us from Point A, presented as the urge to do a little housekeeping on the Town’s zoning niceties, to Point B, transformative mega-scale development in the heart of town.

Since the Bethany Arms is apparently going to turn over, one way or another, the Town could have chosen to enforce the property’s zoning, rather than re-engineer the rules to fit a new “opportunity.” Why not enforce the old codes, rather than accommodate a developer to facilitate a transformation which is neither in our best interest nor on our wish list?

Presumably, the Bethany Arms was grandfathered in their “violation” of the code, unless no one in the Town was aware there was a problem, or cared at that time. As far as the rest of us are concerned, there was no code problem until the alluring vision of a 100-room, multi-use facility appeared on the Council’s radar.

I’ve heard the arguments pro and con but haven’t heard the Council go much beyond technocratic explanations and processes. Disappointingly, it appears there is more comfort in bureaucratic loop-the-loops than in taking a position and leading.

I wish I understood the Council’s vision of Bethany Beach — what they would like the town to be. A hotel of the sort contemplated is not consistent with past inputs, commitments and agreements. In what context do they see the desirability of a 100-room hotel, which, if successful, will bring hundreds of guests all at once into our already crowded burg? (Is there ever not a line at the bandstand ladies’ room door? Perhaps a hotel will invite the public to use its facilities. Anyone for Porta-Potties on the boardwalk? Hmmm, that could be a justification to widen the boardwalk...)

The key to all this may lie in the ledger, since a hotel will generate tax revenues for the Town. Is that sufficient reason to go ahead? No, especially considering where today’s money goes: It goes to a botanical beautification budget that must be wildly out-of-control, judging from the Town’s “House and Garden” appearance. (Am I the only one who thinks it’s over-the-top, especially when flowers and shrubs block traffic line-of-sight along Route 1?)

Revenue goes to an upscale fleet of police cars in which no two vehicles are alike. Can this possibly be consistent with police departments’ best practices? It goes to the proliferation of white vinyl everything — posts, fences, signs, ugh!

Meanwhile, nothing on Route 1 to protect pedestrians. There’s more, but surely we each have our pet ridiculousness. Suffice to say, we don’t need more revenue to be spent on things we don’t need or want.

The large majority of views that I’ve heard and read, the most vocal, and the most clearly articulate, are solidly opposed to this project. Apart from the developer and Council, arguments to go ahead are few, and logic there is shaky, as well — for example, why would we want codes that are industry standard if we’re not itching to be Ocean City?

If the overwhelming majority oppose this travesty, how can the Council justify going forward? Surely the “fixing the code” charade can only carry so far. If we are a representative democracy, how can the Council attempt a move that is so out-of-touch with voters’ wishes?

A referendum on this issue would put the citizenry formally on the record and hold the Council to account. That might take a little time, but slowing this train down would be a good thing. I ask my fellow citizens to weigh in again and again.

John Savage
Bethany Beach

Readers defend merits of hotel project

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Bethany Beach’s mayor and town council members and was sent to the Coastal Point for publication.

We support the proposal to rezone four lots in Block 110 just south of Hollywood Street, as this will increase the likelihood that the Bethany Arms will be replaced by an attractive and somewhat upscale hotel. We urge that the four lots be rezoned as “Commercial Lodging,” as proposed by Bob Parsons, rather than simply as C1.

A new, properly defined commercial lodging zone could protect neighboring residents, assuming the hotel project does not go forward, against the traditional retail development which would be permissible under C1 zoning. Such a zone would also insure that these four lots would continue to be used for short-term lodging purposes, just as they have been used for a great many years.

Our starting point is that, with or without rezoning, in the near future the Bethany Arms will be torn down and replaced with buildings that will be a full three stories tall on both sides of Hollywood. The status quo is not an option, no matter what the council does on rezoning.

The current owners have made it quite clear they are going to sell the property, if not to Mr. Burbage then to others. They have also made it clear that their current business is not economically viable, given the value of the land and the challenges of operating an independent and rather rundown two-story motel in these times.

Any buyer or buyers of the Bethany Arms land will undoubtedly take full advantage of the current height restrictions that allow both commercial and residential buildings to be three stories tall. We have yet to hear any of the numerous opponents of rezoning face up to these realities.

Perhaps, without a change in the current zoning, a small hotel would replace the Bethany Arms on the north side of Hollywood and three-story condominiums or townhouses, or several “McMansions,” would be built on the south side. However, Mr. Burbage says he needs the south-side property to build a viable hotel, given the high price of the land. His claim gains credibility from the arguments of some of the opponents of rezoning, that even the larger hotel Mr. Burbage proposes would not be economically viable.

So it seems to us that the hope for a small hotel limited to the north side of the property is mere wishful thinking. Rezoning will increase, although not by any means guarantee, that the Bethany Arms will be replaced by an attractive, up-to-date commercial lodging facility.

Absent rezoning, the buyers of the north side of the Bethany Arms are likely to build either something akin to the Mangos building (total commercial) or the building that replaced the Blue Surf (commercial at ground level and two-story condominiums on top). Unlike the hotel, there would be no off-street parking for patrons of these new retail establishments. Unlike a hotel, there would be many signs and lights and quite possibly noisy late-night crowds.

We believe an attractive, modern hotel would be a much better alternative for Bethany. When the Bethany Arms goes, the only remaining commercial lodging facility in Bethany will be the small Addy Sea facility.

A modern hotel would serve the needs of many Bethany residents and property owners. We, for example, cannot house our entire family (four married children and eight grandchildren) in our Bethany home at any one time; for us, the option for short-term visits of a room or two in a nearby modern hotel would be a definite plus. We strongly suspect we are not unique in this regard.

Some argue that a hotel the size Mr. Burbage is proposing is out of keeping with the “quiet resort” image of Bethany Beach. Of course, as Bob Parsons has pointed out, there is a long tradition of commercial lodging in Bethany, even the good old days. The famous Seaside Inn of yesteryear stood over four stories high along the boardwalk. (See Meehan, J., “Bethany Beach Memoirs… A Long Look Back,” page 66, 1998.)

The separate three-story buildings Mr. Burbage would build on the north and south sides of Hollywood Street need not and should not look anything like the mega-hotels so typical of the Marriot and Hilton chains in urban settings.

The concept drawings circulated by the mayor on May 22 indicate Mr. Burbage intends to create buildings that are in harmony with this unique community. Needless to say, if the rezoning occurs and the project goes forward, the Town must exercise to the fullest its powers over building design to insure that Mr. Burbage adheres to his stated intentions.

The congestion problems a 100-plus-room hotel would create are, we feel, greatly exaggerated. Since the Bethany Arms has 50 or more rooms, the net increase with a modern hotel would be only 50 lodging units, and far less than that if one factors in the short-term units lost when the old Blue Surf was torn down.

The hotel would provide off-street parking for its patrons, while new stores on the north side of Hollywood would not. Hotel rooms of 300 square feet are not likely to be occupied by two-car families, although the Town might want to consider requiring two off-street parking places for each hotel suite that could sleep five or more people.

Finally, as to the argument of some opponents that a modern 100-plus-room hotel in Bethany would not be economically viable, if Mr. Burbage, an experienced and evidently successful developer, together with his lenders and investors, are willing to risk their capital on a bet that these naysayers are wrong, he should be allowed to take that risk.

Thank you for considering our views.

Michael S. Horne and Martha B. Horne
Bethany Beach

NARFE grateful for support with event

The Coastal Sussex Chapter of NARFE (National Active and Retired Federal Employees) would like to thank the Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany, Fenwick Island, Ocean View, Millville, Dagsboro and Selbyville communities for the generous support we received for our charity gold tournament May 17 at Salt Pond Golf Club.

Sponsorship and donations for the tournament and the post-tournament charity auction netted over $9,000, which will go directly to support Alzheimer’s research.

Local businesses, organizations, and individuals supporting this charity event included:

Atlantic Community Thrift Shop, Theresa Rykatyl; Atlantic Refrigeration; Bayville Package Store; Baywood Greens Clubhouse Restaurant; Beach Liquors; Beachview Chiropractic Center, Donald Hattier; Bethany Auto Parts; Bethany Beach Books; Bethany Dental Associates; Bethany Liquor & Wine; Bethany Resort Furnishings; Big Fish Grill; Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Michael Bilton; Blue Water Grill; Bob’s Marine Service; Brasure’s Pest Control; R.A. Bunting Builder; Henry “Bo” Buoni; Café on 26; Cindy’s Manicure; Robert Clark; James Cohee & Assoc. Accountants; Creative Concepts; Dagsboro Paint; Delaware Distillery Co. and Restaurant & Bar; Delaware Electric Co-Operative; Delaware Shutter Company; Delaware state Sen. Gerald W. Hocker, 20th District; Delaware state Rep. Ronald Gray, 38th District; Denny Electric Supply; DiFebo’s Bistro on the Green; Fish Tales; Float-ors Gift Shop; Fox Pizza; Gale Force Carpet Cleaning; Dr. Frank & Loretta Galia; Giant Market; Griffin Family Practice; Hair Snippery; Halpern Eye Care; Harris Teeter; Henlopen City Oyster House; Hook ’Em & Cook ’Em Outfitters; Jimmy’s Kitchen; Edward Jones Financial Services, Max Hutsell; Raymond James Financial Services, Rick Solloway; Just Hooked restaurant; Kendall Furniture; Kool Bean Bistro; James K. Framer, DMD; Joe Kratz; K-10 Toes & Tans, Kristen O’Brien; Lighthouse Liquors; Walt Little; Long & Foster, Leslie Kopp; M&T Bank, Pia Calhoun; Matteo’s Mexican restaurant; McCabe’s Gourmet Market; Midlantic Marine Center; Mio Fratello Italian Steakhouse; Morgan Stanley; Smith Barney, Donald Birch, Chris Vane, Ocean Copy & Photo Design; Oceanside Casual Furniture; Ocean View Family Restaurant; Dick & Margaret Oliver; One Coastal restaurant; Ed Palmerino; Patti’s Hallmark Shop; John and Theresa Pitman; Pohanka Car Dealerships; Port Restaurant & Bar; Steve and Mel Presgraves; Remax By the Sea; Kim Hook, Audrey & Frank Serio; Sea Level; 1776 Restaurant; Shamrock Shanty; Sirlae’s Brazilian Steakhouse; State Farm Insurance, Denise Beam and George Bunting; Sussex County Council Member George Cole, 4th District; Sussex County Council Member Joan Deaver, 3rd District; Tidewater Physical Therapy, Robert Cairo; Treasure Island Fashions; Tritapoe Academy Golf at Baywood Greens, Mike Tritapoe; Turquoise Greek Restaurant; UPS Store; VFW Mason Dixon Post 7234; VFW Ladies Auxiliary; Mason Dixon Post 7234; Ron and Carol Weber; Law Office of Susan Pittard Weidman, Susan Gardner; and Eric West.

Golf courses donating golf foursomes included: Bayside Resort Golf Club; Baywood Greens; Bear Trap Dunes Golf Club; Cripple Creek Country Club; Heritage Shores; Kings Creek Country Club; Maple Dale Country Club; Ocean City Golf Club; Peninsula Golf Club; Rehoboth Beach Yacht and Country Club; and Salt Pond Golf Club.

We would also like to thank Salt Pond Golf Club, and the club’s PGA professional, Art Whaley, for a well-run golf tournament that was enjoyable to all participants, and Cottage Café for holding our post-tournament luncheon.

Special thanks are owed to Big Fish Grill for participating in the Chapter 1690 “Dine and Donate” event, where a percentage of check proceeds were donated to Alzheimer’s research.

Ron Weber, Golf Chairperson
Richard Oliver, Alzheimer’s Chairperson
NARFE Chapter 1690

Artisans Fair a hit, thanks to many

On May 25, South Coastal Delaware AARP held its most successful Artisans Fair in its six-year history. Our new location at the Lord Baltimore Elementary School provided us a larger space for this growing event.

We would like to thank the many individuals and groups who contributed to the success of our show. Our thanks go to Lord Baltimore Elementary for the help school personnel provided to facilitate a successful show.

We also want to thank the area businesses who made financial contributions that enabled us to defray some of the show costs. Supporters included: BJ’s, Food Lion, Giant, Harris Teeter (Salt Pond and Selbyville), Harry & David, Rehoboth Beach, Hocker’s and G&E, Magee Farms and Walmart, Rehoboth Beach.

Atlantic Auto Repair, across the street from the school, generously allowed us to use their parking lot for exhibitor vehicles, freeing up parking lot space for attendees. Thanks also to local media who helped us get the word out about the fair through articles and calendar listings.

It is only because of the hard work of our planning team over several months that we are able to put on a professional show that compares very favorably with other larger shows. Members of the planning team included: Marilyn Appel, Nancy Borreggine, Dave Flickinger, Lorie and Jim Hartsig, Katherine Johnson, Lucille Kurtz, Chotsie Martin, Judy Matsko, Fran Milio, Jan Shaeffer and Maureen Thomas.

Even with this large team, the show would not have been a success without the help of more than 50 chapter members who came out on show day to help with all aspects of the show. In addition, thanks go to members of the Community Service Committee who took on the task of contacting chapter members to solicit contributions for our fantastic bake sale.

Finally, we thank area residents and visitors who came out in large numbers to support the show and buy beautiful items from our exhibitors. As a result of this support, we were able to raise record funds to provide scholarships to area youth and adults.

Ione D. Phillips, Coordinator
2013 Artisans Fair