Letters to the Editor -- April 26, 2013

IRHSAA thankful for support with event

The Indian River High School Alumni Association would like to thank all who contributed in some way to make our 1st Annual Beef & Brew Fundraiser such a successful event. Not only were funds raised to fulfill our goals of supporting the students and some needs of IRHS, but the event was enjoyed by many recent and not so recent graduates from the past 40-plus years.

We appreciate the members, local businesses and others who contributed time or donations to support our auctions, meal and other expenses. The highlight of the evening was the auctioning of our new IR license plates, and we look forward to seeing that IR pride soon on many vehicles in our community.

We were also honored to contribute over 150 canned good items to our local food pantry through our food drive at the door. This should be a great help to the needs of many local community members.

The group continues to grow, and we encourage new members. Please see our Web site to sign up, at www.IRHSAlumni.com. Our next monthly meeting will be held on Monday, May 13, 6 p.m. in the school library, and all are welcome.

Ruth Ann Marvel, President

BBLA discusses group’s public meeting

On behalf of the Bethany Beach Landowners Association, I want to express our appreciation for the use of the Town Hall/Community Center meeting room and the logistical support of Town staff for BBLA’s public meeting on April 13.

The meeting purpose was to provide facts regarding a number of zoning-related changes in the Town Code that have been recommended by the Planning Commission. We especially appreciate the extensive efforts of Lew Killmer in his role as chairman of the Planning Commission, who presented factual information on each recommendation and answered citizen questions.

Over 60 people attended the meeting. It was viewed as a very informative and positive step in the process of promoting public awareness and understanding of the pending proposals. Among the things we learned from the meeting, and from the Council’s public hearing on the proposals on March 15, is that the most controversial issue is the proposal to rezone Block 110, lots 9-12, known as 96 Hollywood Street (part of the Bethany Arms Motel) and 98 Hollywood Street (a multi-unit building) from R-1 Residential to C-1 Commercial. Most of the questions from citizens pertained to this issue, clearly indicating significant public concern.

Another thing we learned from the questions of those who attended the meeting and hearing is that there is a need for more extensive explanation and discussion of the zoning history of the properties in question, the rationale and justification for the rezoning proposal, including the perceived necessity for making the zoning change now and its major consequences if adopted, for example, the effect on all affected property owners and on the historical character of Bethany Beach. We also believe there is a need for more time and opportunity for more citizens to consider the issue and express their views until there is a clear public consensus on the matter.

Therefore, because of the clear importance of the rezoning issue to citizens and the Town, we urge the Council to continue to take the necessary time to provide additional opportunities for public awareness and input in the decision-making process through both established procedures and other efforts, as well.

As to established procedures, we understood from a Town announcement on April 12 that the proposed changes would be considered by the Town Zoning Commission at a meeting on April 20. We further understood from review of provisions in Title 22, Chapter 3 of the Delaware State Code governing municipal zoning regulations that Zoning Commission review would provide for a public hearing and a separate report and recommendation to the Council.

We thought this process would be very beneficial because it would not only provide for additional public input, but also a separate, independent review of the issues and determination as to whether the proposals met applicable zoning standards and requirements, especially including those set forth in Chapter 425, Section 425-1, of the Town Code.

We subsequently learned that the Council has determined, based upon a legal opinion, that the Town does not have to go through a Zoning Commission process for amendments to zoning provisions in the Town Code and, indeed, that there apparently is no legal requirement for a Zoning Commission once original zones are established.

Accordingly, the Council cancelled the April 20 Zoning Commission meeting. This is an unfortunate development because it will deny citizens, and the Council, the benefits that would have been provided by the statutory Zoning Commission process.

In view of the Zoning Commission developments, there is an even more urgent need for broader public awareness, input and involvement in the decision-making process on the rezoning issue. We believe that a clear and substantial public consensus is essential to support any Council decision on such a controversial matter.

Therefore the BBLA Board strongly recommends that the Council focus its May 17 discussion on ways to insure broader public awareness, input and involvement in the decision-making process on the rezoning issue and move any possible final vote on rezoning on May 17 to a later date.

Such an early date is too soon for consideration and input by a substantial number of voters. To proceed in such an expedited fashion on such a significant issue would create the negative impression of bias and rush to judgment in favor of the rezoning proposal. The final vote should be scheduled only after a substantial number of voters have an adequate opportunity to consider and comment on the issue.

In that regard, the BBLA Board further recommends that the Council consider, at the May 17 Council meeting, use of a non-binding referendum pursuant to section 24.4.5 of the Town Charter, to obtain the opinion of as many voters as possible on this important matter before reaching a decision.

In the alternative, the Council could conduct an opinion survey among voters for the same purpose. The voters may approve or oppose the zoning change. In either event, the Council’s decision should include awareness of the will of a substantial majority of voters. There appears to be no immediate need for a decision on the issue that would weigh against conducting a referendum or survey, especially in view of the length of time the property in question has been zoned residential.

The BBLA Board of Directors has not yet formulated a position on the rezoning issue or the other proposed changes in the Town Code. We intend to continue to gather information and perspective and further determine the opinion of our members on the proposals.

Thanks again for the support for our April 13 meeting and your consideration of our views on this matter.

John Himmelberg, President

Reader: Love means nothing

Love is just a score if you happen to be talking about tennis; otherwise it means a lot.

There are many kinds of love. There is religious love. There is romantic love. There is parental love. Then there is gay love, which I suppose is a subdivision of romantic love. There is brotherly love. There is sisterly love. Then there is marital love. Each type of love is important enough that people have been willing to die for it. But only marital love is recognized by God and the State.

A Biblical translation commands us to “go forth and multiply.” The government agrees so completely with this command that if you obey, you will get a tax break for each child. Why is this important? Let’s look at Mr. and Mrs. Farmer. If they don’t go fourth and multiply, there won’t be replacement Farmers to grow crops. If Mr. and Mrs. Truck Driver aren’t fruitful, produce won’t get to market. And if Mr. and Mrs. Baker aren’t fruitful, we won’t have bread.

These unscientific examples, though simplistic, anticipate an economic axiom: Demography is destiny. They also provide fodder for the Law of Unanticipated Consequences.

The gay community wishes to have their unions recognized as marriage. Why? There are only two plausible reasons: (1) recognition by God, and, (2) tax breaks. They may be disappointed on at least one count and probably two. Gays cannot go forth and multiply and gay couples, although loved by God, will not be recognized by God as married.

Regarding the government’s recognition (i.e. tax breaks), I doubt if gay couples will be granted the same benefits as heterosexual married couples for two reasons: (1) their union does nothing to benefit society, and (2) under the equal protection clause of the Constitution, I believe that if the government were to recognize gay marriage, the Supreme Court would be forced to extend those same benefits to all loving couples living together, be they mother and daughter, brother and sister or sister and sister. This will engender more legalistic and twisted semantics to get around the fact that non-heterosexual unions can bear no more fruit than “Love” in a tennis match. And we all know that means nothing.

Chuck Griffiths
Ocean View

Reader offers personal tale on equality

When my partner, Bonnie, and I read in the papers on Thursday morning that marriage equality was one step closer to being a reality in Delaware, we were overjoyed. We have been together for 31 years. We met as young women, committed to sharing our lives together.

We welcomed pets into our family, encouraged each other in our careers, spoiled our nieces and nephews, made friends, managed our parents’ health crises, entered middle age, tearfully buried our first dog and cat, moved to Delaware, weathered our own health crises, saved for retirement, said goodbye to two sets of parents who recognized us as married, added new pets to the fold, participated in politics and charitable giving and became eligible for Medicare — all of this, together.

We were married for the first time in 2003 in British Columbia, just after marriage equality became legal there. The second time we married was in Rehoboth Beach, with a big Jewish wedding — recognized as marriage by our synagogue but not by the state. The state viewed it as a civil union.

The time to make this right is now. We are recently retired, and sadly just lost our second set of 15-year-old Schnauzers. They are a benchmark for our 31-year marriage. We are hoping the state will do the right thing and pass marriage equality so we do not have to feel like lesser citizens any longer — and when DOMA falls, we will be able to have federal recognition and equal rights.

At the moment, we are debating if we’re too old for a new puppy. Our second-class existence has been going on for too long. We hope the state we love will be on the right side of history and grant us the right to legally wed. We’ll let you know what we decide about the puppy.

Fay Jacobs
Rehoboth Beach

Reader: Equality measure must pass

As a U.S. Army veteran who enlisted and served overseas during the Vietnam era, handling top secret materials in the Army Security Agency and then honorably discharged, I can be described as strongly patriotic and one who values public service to this nation. However, federally and in Delaware, I can also be described as a second-class citizen because I committed myself in life to a man, not to a woman.

In fact, many gay Delawareans have served in the military, only to come home and have no federal marriage rights and protections — and then be told by Delaware that their relationships are not marriage but something less.

I ask our lawmakers to support H.B. 75, the Civil Marriage Equality and Religious Protection Act of 2013. There should be no reason why service members should potentially put their lives on the line — and then come back home as vets to be second-class citizens.

Douglas Marshall-Steele

Reader: What are county officials afraid of?

Monday evening, the 22nd of April, the Institute on the Constitution is beginning a 12-week study on the United States Constitution. It was scheduled to be held in a meeting room of the Sussex County Annex (Sheriff’s Office), a public building. This Thursday, the county officials denied this use to the citizens of the State of Delaware.

I can only think they are afraid of the citizens having a better understanding of their rights and protections under the Constitution. They will probably try to claim some ridiculous story about insurance (anyone heard of insurance stopping at 7 p.m.?). It is most likely a part of the continuing harassment of the Sheriff’s Office. The study will continue on the property of a true patriot of the United States.

Richard McKinley

Wright gets support in school board bid

I am asking you to support a community service colleague and one of Indian River School District’s most energetic voices, incumbent school board member Leolga T. Wright, for election on Tuesday, May 14. Please encourage your friends to support Leolga T. Wright!

Leolga was originally appointed to fill a vacant school board position and must seek election to continue serving the residents of the Indian River School District. Leolga is a native Sussex Countian.

Leolga has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the most reasonable and responsive school board members, in terms of constituent and community service to her district. Leolga is an active volunteer with the Ladies Auxiliary of the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company, as well as an active firefighter with the same organization for more than 25 years.

Leolga is active with the Sussex County Meals on Wheels and volunteers weekly to deliver meals to residents of the county. Leolga is proud of her Native American heritage and is affiliated with the Nanticoke Indian Association, where she devotes many hours of volunteerism, as well. Leolga worships at the Indian Mission United Methodist Church and provides friendship, leadership and guidance to her fellow parishioners.

Leolga and her husband, Dallas, are small-business people that operate a farming entity in Sussex County. Leolga brings an important perspective to the school board discussions regarding potential policy and procedural impact to children, families and employees. This is why her voice is so important to our school board leadership team. I value her opinion and thoughtful perspective on issues that impact the Indian River School District and our children.

Leolga is one of the strongest voices on issues of educating our children and championing causes like full-day kindergarten, school safety, facility renovations and quality working conditions for all employees.

Please join me in working to bring Leolga Wright back for another term on the Indian River School District Board of Education. Please vote for Leolga Wright on May 14 at the Long Neck Elementary or East Millsboro Elementary schools.

Please remember to vote on Tuesday, May 14!

Patrick C. Miller

Reader supports Ennis bill on lot rents

In this era of sloth and greed, we need people like Sen. Bruce Ennis to present bills like he is proposing to keep lot rents affordable for mobile home parks.

I live in Massey’s Landing Mobile Home Park, where I recently found out about plans submitted to rezone the entire area to an RV park. All of the home values are pretty much zero right now.

Then, (are you ready for this?) our lot rents went up 35 percent to almost 50 percent. As a senior myself and on a fixed income, I don’t know where to scrape together more money to pay additional lot rent to a mobile home park that wants RVs here instead of me.

Please support Sen. Ennis’s bill to cap lot rents.

Lewis Newman

Massey’s Landing resident backs Ennis

Four years to retirement! Wow! Yes, we saved, we planned and looked 14 years ago for our stick-built home, on a canal in Massey’s Landing. It’s big enough for us, but as important, it is next to our folks, so we can take care of them in their “golden years.” We felt we had a nice nest egg in our retirement home, one that would be sold for income when we reached our golden years.

In the past two months, our dreams were wiped away by a family that always said they would keep Massey’s Landing a mobile home park. Home owners were never told that the park was being turned into a 575 RV park instead of a 96-tenant community of mobile and stick-built homes.

To make the deceit even worse, the rent was raised 35 percent, or $1,500 per year. I don’t know about you, but my income has not gone up by 35 percent in a total of five years. Social Security for our parents on that fixed income has not gone up 35 percent. Heck, even taxes don’t go up 35 percent a year!

Was this rent increase because the Faucetts found out that we homeowners found out their secret? Did the cost of living go up by 35 percent? This increase is not because we have paved roads, a swimming pool, tennis courts, meeting facility or security that needs to be maintained; we have none of that, we only have our homes that we all maintain with pride.

So now we cannot even sell our house for its value, we have to pay 35 percent more in ground rent, we pay a penalty if we pay monthly instead of the lump sum asked for by the land owners, and we still maintain and improve the property for them.

Sen. Ennis is sponsoring a bill to help make land rents affordable. Finally, someone that supports our struggle.

For those of you who have ever attended the boat shows at Short’s Marina Sales on Long Neck Road, remember waiting an hour in traffic to get through to the light? Have you seen the vehicles with boat trailers parked all along Long Neck Road in the summer? Just imagine an evacuation order for nearly 600 campers, plus residents from adjacent communities, all trying get out on a one-way road that typically floods!

How will nearly 600 families dispose of waste? What is the impact on use of water and power on a daily basis? Do you think they will follow the power alerts? Where will the fox, deer, ospreys and wild turkeys go? Do we even have enough law enforcement to cover that many people in a campground when there isn’t any police coverage when vandalism happens now at the public launch or in our park?

Trash along the road is disgusting now. Add trash by those who have no vested interest in our local environment. The schools are already suffering and need a tax base to support them; campers don’t pay tax that supports Delaware education, homeowners do.

Well, so much for the affordable American dream for our retirement in those golden years, thanks to the Faucetts. But Sen. Ennis, you have our backing, and if any of your constituents can put themselves in our place, they will support your bill, as well. We need our senators to back their people.

Cindy Shomo
Massey’s Landing