Letters to the Editor: May 17, 2013

Reader calls for rent justification bill

Rent justification, HB 33, is the only way to level the playing field between owners of manufactured home parks and the people who own their own home and rent the land under it.

The park owners have been allowed to increase land rents as much as they want, realizing a healthy profit without justifying those increases to the homeowner or to anyone else. Most manufactured homeowners are seniors on fixed income. Many live in fear that yearly increase in rent will put them in jeopardy of literally losing the roof over their heads.

If the rent justification bill passes, it will require park owners to seek approval from the Delaware Manufactured Home Relocation Authority if they want to raise rents on park tenants by more than the three-year average increase in the Consumer Price Index. To gain approval, park owners would have to justify those increases.

Each year this bill is brought before the legislature it is defeated. Why? Now we know. Common Cause recently released a report that shows that the biggest contributor to defeat legislation in the legislature is First State Manufactured Housing Association, a PAC, which represents the park owners’ interests.

Park owners, through FSMHA, spent $134,000 aggregated over five years since 2007 to defeat a rent justification bill, giving liberal contributions to state legislators and political parties. It is interesting to see who got the money on both sides of the aisle and how it correlates with voting “no” on rent justification.

Park owners know the benefits they keep if this bill does not pass. I hope you, as a voter, are as tired of this influence peddling as I am. Tell your legislator to take a stand to level the playing field and hold them accountable.

Beth Doty
Rehoboth Beach

Local group upset with gun-law process

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to members of the Delaware General Assembly and was sent to the Coastal Point for publication.

We, the Citizens of Delaware, are tired of having our testimony mocked and ignored while apparently the testimony of out-of-state victims matter more to this legislative body. We will not go along willingly as you play us for fools and take us lightly.

The citizens of Delaware are sharing their positions on the gun bills that Gov. Markell has proposed, but he doesn’t like a lot of what he is hearing. Almost 4,000 Delaware citizens have signed the “Crime Control, not Gun Control” petition over the past three weeks. Many take time off from work every week to attend committee hearings or write letters to be delivered if they can’t be there. They make phone calls and emails to our state legislators.

These are normal citizens who, unlike the “experts” the Markell administration parades each week, do not get paid to be there. Overwhelmingly, they oppose these gun control bills.

Instead of listening to the citizens of his own state, Gov. Markell has decided to bring in citizens from other states that he knows will tell him what he wants to hear. The Markell administration and Democrat Caucuses have handpicked minor celebrities and victims of tragedies from out of state to tug at heart strings of gullible legislators and to provide the pretext of justification for passing legislation that is not justified.

First it was Mark Kelly, husband of Gabby Gifford, who testified on HB 35, “Background Check Bill,” and admitted in the hearing that the shooter passed a background check! This bill would have done nothing to stop this criminal from obtaining a gun. But it didn’t matter.

Second up was Colin Goddard, a Virginia Tech victim, who testified on HB 58, the “High Capacity Magazine Bill.” Colin was an unarmed law-abiding citizen who ran into a criminal who had no respect for the law. The only way to stop this criminal was with an equally well armed law-abiding citizen. But it didn’t matter.

Third up is three parents from Sandy Hook meeting behind closed doors with our state legislators. It’s a shame the Sandy Hook families are being exploited by other states and our own governor to endorse gun control. Sandy Hook Elementary School was well known as a gun-free zone. This criminal knew he would not meet any resistance and really didn’t care if he was a “person prohibited.” What would have happened if the principal or several teachers were armed? But it doesn’t matter.

Unless these “celebrities” and the Sandy Hook parents can explain how gun laws that didn’t protect themselves or their families would work here, we have no idea of what they have to offer.

Theresa Garcia, Executive Director
9-12 Delaware Patriots

Reader finds clash between PCs infuriating

On May 8, 2013, I read two interesting articles on the Internet. One thrilled me, but the other infuriated me!

First, let me congratulate Tim Tebow for being No. 1 on the Forbes’ List of America’s Most Influential Athletes. Americans put Tim Tebow at the top of the list — People’s Choice!

Next, my heart goes out to a Columbus, Texas, high school track-and-field team for being disqualified in competing for the State Championship because one player pointed a finger toward Heaven upon the team’s state qualification! Politics denied these young men their opportunity to compete for a title they had so diligently worked hard for — politically correct!

Isn’t it ironic that one Christian is exalted by the people and another Christian is condemned by politics!

Because we do not want to offend anyone, we millions of Christians are letting America, as we know it, be destroyed by one atheist (or politician) at a time!

Wake up America! Take a stand! Write a letter! Contact the UIL (University Interscholastic League)! Call that principal in Columbus, Texas! Call your congressman or congresswoman! Do something before we lose all our rights!

Wilma Caraway

Readers say their peace on town zoning

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

It has come to my attention that the Town Council is considering a large hotel development on the boardwalk which will require zoning changes. I am writing to you because:

(1) This project is up for approval without having a referendum of the property owners in Town. This is an outrageous usurpation of authority. Even if you personally want to go ahead with this project, you ought to have the courage to find out the feelings of the property owners. After all, you were elected to serve the people of the Town, and you have no idea what the people want in this case without a referendum.

The only conclusion has to be that you think that you and only you know what is in the best interest of the Town, and this is remarkably arrogant.

(2) I have been coming to Bethany for over 70 years. My family and I used to stay at the Seaside Inn, and my wife and I have owned property in Bethany for over 30 years. I am therefore quite familiar with the friendly, family-oriented and non-stressful environment which has been created and maintained over the years. My wife and I were involved in the legal action which kept Sea Colony North from becoming a reality.

What you are considering will totally shatter the Quiet Resort environment which I have known for 70 years. If this project is approved, it will change the character of Bethany forever, and I think this is an outrage for which you will be held responsible for years to come. Every survey of the homeowners in Bethany that I have ever seen demonstrates conclusively that they do not want any change in the character and environment in Bethany.

Assuming that is the case, and you don’t know whether it is or not without a referendum, what you are considering can only be justified by the interests of a narrow group of developers and businesses who stand to benefit from this project. This is a monumentally inadequate reason for considering this project in the first place.

We will start to gather support for legal action to prevent you from implementing any approval you grant to this project.

Don Young and Karen Young
Bethany Beach

Reader takes on Benghazi narrative

Back in November, Bill Clemens wrote a letter to the Coastal Point declaring Sen. John McCain had fumbled the ball in attacking Susan Rice when she made numerous appearances on the Sunday talk shows.

Rice dutifully repeated administration talking points consisting of “the Benghazi attack was not plotted ahead of time by Islamic militants or terrorist organizations affiliated with al-Qaeda,” also “the best assessment we have today,” she added when talking to CBS’s Bob Schieffer, “is that in fact this was not a pre-planned, premeditated attack.”

We now know the statements were a total fabrication and Rice’s talking points were provided by the State Department, with White House approval, despite objections from the CIA and stunned disbelief by the deputy Libyan ambassador. The State Department rewrote the CIA’s talking points to suit their “blame the video” scenario.

Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice should be called upon, under oath, to explain their positions and actions. Four brave Americans, including our ambassador to Libya, lost their lives because of the failure to provide adequate security at an embassy compound. Afterwards, the administration blamed the attack on some ridiculous video when it was directed by al-Qaeda terrorists.

Shortly after those attacks, Vice President Joe Biden said, at a gala for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, “When she (Susan Rice) speaks, no one wonders whether or not she is speaking for the president.” Biden stated Rice had “the absolute, total, complete confidence of the president.”

During the vice presidential debates on Oct. 11, 2012, a month after the attacks, Biden stated, regarding the Benghazi attacks, “We did not know they wanted more security there.” (We now know differently.) Biden also blamed the administration’s changing story of what happened in Benghazi on bad information from the intelligence community, something we now know was also false. Either Biden was lying or embarrassingly out of the loop with the administration.

This administration did not lie to cover up a criminal act but it lied to the American people to cover up their incompetence and to help insure their reelection.

John Rymer
Fenwick Island

Bethany resident weighs in on zoning

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

I applaud your decision to defer consideration and possible vote on a proposal from the Planning Commission to rezone parcels on Lot 110 from residential to commercial. All of Block 110 has been zoned residential, apparently since zoning was first established in Bethany Beach many years ago.

I look forward to learning more as soon as possible about the Council plans to deal with this controversial Planning Commission recommendation and the many related matters that have surfaced as a result of both the substance and procedural steps associated with these recommendations.

I would respectfully suggest to the Council the appropriateness of also deferring action on items A, B, C, E and F on your agenda for May 17. If you are not inclined to delete those items, too, I would suggest that you announce that you do not intend to vote on them on May 17. They are closely related to the rezoning proposal and are an integral part of the Planning Commission’s actions to facilitate the movement forward of Mr. Jack Burbage’s important vision for the property now occupied by the Bethany Arms Motel.

A number of critically important issues have been raised in Bethany by numerous, tax-paying citizens who want to know a great deal more about these recommendations before they can fully form a judgment they might wish to share with the Council. The more time and information Bethany’s voters are provided to share their views and concerns with you, the much more improved and acceptable the end product will be.

Dan Costello
Bethany Beach

Resident offers opinion on town issue

Below is my letter to the Bethany Town Council regarding the controversial proposed zoning changes. We live directly across the street from the Bethany Arms Motel so are extremely invested in what ultimately will replace that once it’s sold.

I am writing to the Town Council to express my opposition to the specific proposed zoning changes that relate to the increased density of commercial lodging and to the rezoning of Lots 9, 10, 11 and 12 of Block 110 from Residential to C-1 Downtown Commercial.

The Town Council has asked us to be specific in defining our opposition and I will do so; however; I would ask that the Council do the same regarding their apparent support of the changes. As yet, there has been no clear answer to that question when it has been posed to the Council at town meetings.

The Tietz family’s love for the Town of Bethany Beach began back in the early 60’s with vacation trips that eventually led to the purchase of a home on Hollywood Street in 1969. We named our firstborn child after the town in 1976 and two years later bought our home on South Atlantic Avenue. Since then, three other family members have purchased homes here and many more have been regular visitors for decades, all of them drawn to the small-town character of Bethany that could not be found elsewhere on the shore.

Our story is not unique. In fact, it seems to reflect an almost universal story of those who have come here as casual visitors, have been beguiled by the small-town ambiance here and have gone on to buy here, move here and eventually retire here.

Never once have I heard any of these people say they wished there was some way to attract even more people here. Most residents, and a surprising number of business owners, can’t wait for the crowds to leave in the fall so that we can reclaim our quiet town and patronize the wonderful shops and restaurants that are so hard to get into during the season.

Yet it seems that the Town Council is intent on making these changes based on the desire to attract even more visitors to our town at the expense of the residents who have invested their life savings to live in the quiet resort of Bethany.

If Mr. Burbage really loves Bethany Beach, as he proclaims, then perhaps he could pursue a lodging option that would be more consistent with the character of the town. A well-designed shingle-style hotel similar to the original Seaside Inn or a bed-and-breakfast similar to the Addy Sea would be an appropriate testament to the town’s history, would be a positive draw to visitors and would likely be much better received by the residents.

Leaving Block 110 residential, as it clearly was originally intended, would allow for the development of individual homes or townhouses there, a much more compatible use of a block that is predominantly residential and is bordered by residential properties on all but one side.

Throughout its history, Bethany Beach has stayed true to its origin as “a haven of rest for quiet people” as stated by founding father Dr. F.D. Power, and it is that reputation as a quiet family-centered retreat that continues to draw visitors searching for an alternative to the crowds and commercial development to our north and south.

In “Bethany Beach Memoirs,” author James D. Meehan states, “The one constant in all the years was the desire to keep Bethany Beach as peaceful as possible, because it has always been, more than anything else, a place to bring your family.” It’s why it was conceived, it’s why we’re all here, it’s why visitors continue to come here. So why are we trying to change it?

I respectfully ask the Council to listen to the pleas of the people of Bethany Beach, those for whom you serve.

Marylou Carrico Tietz
Bethany Beach

CROPwalk a hit, thanks to many

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to participants in the CROPwalk event held in Bethany Beach on May 11 and was sent to the Coastal Point for publication.

I would like to thank all of you who came out to walk, even though it was raining. The sun did come out and we got dried off as we walked.

I thank the Nautical Sounds for singing in the rain. They can make you feel good in a rainstorm. Ian Kaufman led a sing-along that was fun and Alyson Taylor, her son and nephews entertained us also. They did a great job. Everyone made it feel like the sun was shining even when it was raining. Thank you for your support.

We would like to invite the community to join us next year and feel the great community spirit a walk that supports our community, the nation and the world can engender.

We are collecting till the end of the month to support CROP (Communities Responding to Overcome Hunger) and if you would like to join that effort, contact me at rm.hendrix@mchsi.com or (302) 537-9417 or go online to the CROPwalk and find the Southeast Sussex Hunger Walk and donate on line.

Again, thank you to everyone who made this walk possible. I will let all walkers know by the end of the month what we raised. Along with money, we raised good feelings in our community. It feels good to get together and do good.

Rose Mary Hendrix
Southeast Sussex Hunger Walk

Resident weighs in on Bethany issue

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

Thank you for holding the record open for additional comments about the Burbage/Bethany Arms proposals. As more information is disseminated to the community, many of us are convinced that still more time is necessary for a complete and thoughtful consideration of the issues, before taking so many proposed actions with long-term repercussions (not just the rezoning, but the density changes can have far-reaching effects).

I attended an informational meeting in early May at which Mr. Burbage spoke in defense of his plans for the Bethany Arms-area lots. It was important to hear him. A couple of points came up during his presentation that I believe demonstrate the need for more Council deliberation before taking any of the actions in support of the Burbage project.

First, in stating what the benefits would be to the town from his proposed project, Mr. Burbage said there would be increased business in Bethany. Citizens asked what made him think that there would be increased business since (A) there had been hotel rooms at Bethany Arms (and Blue Surf in the past) and yet they didn’t have enough business to create year-round tourism and even to stay open.

He said that he believes there would be increased business from guests at his hotel, but really only during weekends of the shoulder season. Is “some additional tourist traffic on some weekends during the shoulder season,” a rather limited benefit at best, worth the risk that additional commercial zoning and additional density pose to Bethany’s quiet nature?

Second, Mr. Burbage told us that he had not studied whether it would be feasible to build a small hotel using only the currently commercially zoned property. And he stated he had not studied the feasibility of a smaller, but individual (not chain) hotel (which could allow for a smaller hotel and a more “Bethany-style” presence). Indeed, nothing but a large-for-Bethany chain hotel seems to have been studied. The heart of Bethany’s boardwalk deserves more study than what has been done.

Third, Mr. Burbage showed a touch of a “take it or leave it” attitude at this meeting, saying that if Bethany did not approve this project, plenty of other localities would welcome it with open arms. I do not feel this is how Bethany Town Council should be judging proposed development projects. Bethany is a successful, well-run town, a wonderful home and second-home to many people, and a popular tourist venue; we do not need to jump at something “because others would.”

I do not oppose the idea of a hotel on the commercially-zoned property. In the past I have stayed at Bethany Arms, and I regret the loss of the Blue Surf hotel rooms for our Bethany economy. My family frequents the businesses in Bethany and wants them to thrive. We enjoy the different seasons at Bethany, from the in-season hustle-and-bustle, to the shoulder season’s relaxed pace, to winter’s peacefulness. However, I do not want to see Bethany take off in a completely different direction not in keeping with its Quiet Resort charm.

Please take more time to get further information from Mr. Burbage, study the possible options, provide additional details to us citizens of Bethany, and craft a balanced approach that will protect and enhance Bethany, rather than rushing this process.

Robin Baxter
Bethany Beach and Arlington, Va.