Letters to the Editor -- April 12, 2013


Reader offers food for thought on Bethany

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

I would like to submit the following questions for the April 13 forum about the rezoning proposals related to the Burbage/Hotel project:

(1) Trying to keep a healthy balance of residential area and commercial area is tricky, but vital to keep a “town feeling.” In considering approving this project, how will the “precedent” be limited? If the hotel becomes successful, and other hotels want to turn residential properties into commercial properties, would it be hard to deny, having once allowed it? What about other commercial (non-hotel) uses? Will they use this project as precedent to turn other residential lots into commercial?

(2) One justification for rezoning the lots from residential to commercial is to recognize the longstanding use of the lots as commercial. Has the Town made an inventory of other lots with “longstanding” commercial use on a residentially zoned lot to see what other lots might come forward and ask for rezoning based on the same reasoning?

(3) Does the ocean block of Hollywood Street that appears in the project belong to the Town of Bethany? Does the proposed development presume the purchase of that block of the street by the developer? Would that set a concerning precedent? Would there be pressure to sell the ocean blocks of other Bethany streets?

(4) What height-limit changes are being proposed, and why? Enacting the residential height limit was a hard-fought battle to maintain the nature of Bethany. Why open that up again by relaxing the height limit? Won’t exceptions lead to dismantling of the whole concept?

(5) Regarding Appendix 3, dimensional requirements relating to density, the proposed changes would more than double or triple the density (depending on existence of a kitchen). In supporting this change, the staff comment seemed to be that “common practices” allow more density than Bethany has. What is being compared to Bethany? Isn’t the question “what density should Bethany allow?” a highly individual question, and not subject to “what Dewey allows” or “what Rehoboth allows”? What are the arguments that the specific situation of Bethany should allow double or triple the density of use on the lots?

(6) Where would the hotel guests park, if triple the current density is allowed? (There seem to be fewer than 70 spaces currently.) Will there be parking spaces for two cars per room? Will there be extra spaces for conference facility guests who are not staying in the hotel?

(7) What percentage of the lot area would be covered by buildings, and what percentage by parking spaces? Would there be any open space?

(8) It may sound funny to even imagine a time in the future when there could be pressure to have more and more hotels, but “what if?” Does Ocean City have too many hotels? How would the Town limit the ability of commercial property to shift from merchant-use or restaurant-use to hotel-use?

Thank you for promoting a healthy discussion of the issues.

Robin Baxter
Bethany Beach/Arlington, Va.

Reader offers thoughts on Bethany code
Editor:

Questions for Bethany officials regarding various amendments to the Bethany code:

(1) If the Council approves rezoning from residential to commercial of four lots on Block 110 (south of Hollywood Street), Council will automatically approve a height increase of six feet above what is presently allowed there.

At the March 15, 2013 hearing, a Council member stated at least twice that proposed zoning changes involved no height increases whatsoever. Bethany citizens responded quite negatively to a height increase several years ago. Is it the Town’s position that the increase from 31 feet to 37 feet is really not a height increase and will not draw opposition similar to that of some years ago, forcing repeal of the height increase?

(2) Is it the Town’s view that Warren Zitzmann, the professional father of modern zoning in Bethany, did not know what he was doing when he proposed that all of Block 110 be zoned residential? Looking at his zoning map, his clear intent is to define Hollywood Street as the southern boundary between commercial and residential zoning. How does Town government justify its proposed extension of commercial zoning into this residential area on historical grounds?

(3) Respecting the proposal to extend commercial zoning south into the residential neighborhood along South Atlantic Avenue, thus declaring approximately one-third of Block 110 commercial and not residential, doesn’t the Town create a potential zone of conflict between uses within Block 110? What steps does the Town propose to guarantee residential neighbors in and adjacent to the newly divided block that the generous height and density allowances given to commercial owners will not disadvantage residential neighbors, as has happened in other commercial-residential zones of conflict within Bethany?

(4) The unexplained haste of Town staff to smooth the way and to strew flowers in the path of the proposed hotel project, plus the immediate and enthusiastic endorsement of the project by Town Councilpersons, suggests that Bethany Beach government has already made up its mind that the Burbage proposal should move forward at full speed. My question is why has there not been an extensive and highly public search for other uses of the Bethany Arms property once the present structures are demolished? Perhaps a use that is less dense and more respectful of the property’s residential neighbors?

(5) What kind of precedent does approval of rezoning in Block 110 set for other properties in residential neighborhoods in Bethany where “long-standing” commercial lodging use exists on properties that are also zoned residential and were zoned that way many years ago? Journeys End and the Addy Sea easily come to mind, but there are other properties presently zoned residential whose present uses could just as easily be staff-determined as commercial lodging.

(6) Would it not be more prudent and less controversial for Bethany to invite an independent, professional assessment of the “commercial lodging on residentially zoned lots” issue before giving what appears to be a special interest, spot-zoning gift to the owners of such property?

Warren Zitzmann served as chairman of the Bethany Planning Commission from 1971 to 1987. His professional judgments over 16 years ought not to be so quickly disrespected. A public, in the light of day, independent, professional study with independent, professional recommendations could then be submitted to Bethany taxpayers for approval before being so quickly enacted into law.

Dan Costello

Bethany Beach

Reader: It’s time

to raise minimum wage

Editor:

It is time for a raise in the minimum wage. Here are just a few reasons.

(1) The federal minimum wage of $7.25 hasn’t changed since 2009. Yet prices on food, gas and utilizes have gone up.

(2) In real dollars, minimum-wage workers makes less today than they did in 1968.

(3) In no state can a minimum-wage worker afford a two-bedroom unit at fair market rent working a standard 40-hour work week.

(4) A person who works 40 hours a week every week of the year has a gross salary of $15,080. That is below the poverty level for a family of two.

According to the Pulitzer-prize winning economist Paul Krugman, there is no evidence to support the argument that raising the minimum wage cost jobs. In fact “one of the best ways to aid our economic recovery is to build up the standing of all working Americans. Increasing the minimum wage will encourage the rising tide that lifts everyone.”

Delaware Senate Bill 6 would increase the minimum wage to not less than $8.00 per hour effective July 1, 2013, and not less than $8.75 per hour effective July 1, 2014.

Ask your legislators to vote for Senate Bill 6. It’s the right thing to do — and it’s time.

Beth Doty
Rehoboth Beach

Family thankful for support after loss
Editor:

Dear Family and friends: The family of Wendy A. Giesbrecht wishes to thank the many family and friends for their cards and phone calls, plus all the prayers for Wendy. She lost her battle with liver cancer on March 3, 2013.

Many know Wendy as the daughter of Carole Michaelson from near Baltimore and the granddaughter of Steve and Marge Knox of Ocean View. A celebration of her life was held on March 8 in Houston, Texas, where Wendy made her home since l993. A second celebration of her life was held March 23 in Hershey, Pa., for East Coast friends and family. She is survived by her husband, Todd, and a 7-year-old son, Mason.

The family of Wendy A. Giesbrecht

Reader: Our freedoms are leaving us
Editor:

Sen. Carper and Sen. Coons tried to sell out the freedoms and rights of the citizens of the United States of America to the United Nations Saturday morning. It failed 53 to 46, this time.

Do they not remember taking an oath of office to uphold and support the Constitution of the United States, and the State of Delaware? Did it mean nothing to them, or have they not read and understood either Constitution? I have, including the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and all of the amendments to the Constitution. I have found nothing that gives them that authority either by abrogation or delegation.

As citizens of this great country, we must rein in the theft and imbalance of power by all three branches of our government. We don’t have to wait until election cycles. We have the right to challenge their actions, to petition for recall and several other avenues of action to protect our rights.

We are citizens, not subjects, but that is coming soon if we fail to act as free citizens. I challenge all that love God and country to read these critical documents and get active in the process of self-government or lose our freedoms forever.

Richard McKinley
Selbyville

QRCF grateful for support with race
Editor:

On behalf of Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation (QRCF) board, I would like to thank members of the community for their amazing support of our organization and, in turn, those we help. Simply put, our second annual BunnyPalooza! was epic!

On Saturday, March 30, 800 runners, and hundreds more spectators, party-goers and volunteers, gathered in downtown Bethany Beach for our 5K/10K in support of QRCF’s scholarship and grant programs. I am thrilled to report that thousands of dollars were raised.

First and foremost, I must thank the BunnyPalooza! committee members: Eunice Carpitella, Faith Denault, Maura Dribben, Jackie Inman, Marian Parrott and Karen Taylor. They devoted hundreds of hours to ensure the success of the event. Thanks also to Race Director Rick Hundley. Together with the members of the committee, their efforts were herculean.

We received amazing financial support from our sponsors: 3rd Wave Brewing Co., Baja Beach House Grill, Beach Break Bakrie & Café, Bethany Beach Books, Bethany Blues, Birch Tree Café, Bluecoast, Boyden Design, Coastal Point, Cottage Café, Denise Beam at State Farm, Dickens Parlour Theatre, DiFebo’s, Giant Food, Harris Teeter, Jeff Baxter from Prosperity Mortgage, Law Offices of Scott & Shuman, Leslie Kopp, Loftus Wealth Strategies, Maureen’s Ice Cream, Ocean View Animal Hospital, Off the Hook, One Coastal, Mango’s, The Parkway, Pohanka Auto Group, Rehoboth Beach Sports, Sedona restaurant, Steve Alexander at Resort Quest, Transformative Dynamics, UPS Store-Bethany, Wilgus Insurance, World Gym-Bethany and Yuppy Puppy.

We are also grateful to the hundreds of local and visiting runners, raffle tickets purchasers, spectators and volunteers. The second annual BunnyPalooza! was a true partnership of businesses and individuals.

We were humbled by the amazing support from so many members of our community! Thanks to all who supported the event and who so generously join us in carrying out our mission.

We invite everyone to learn about our programs, including how to apply for scholarships and grants, at www.qrcf.org.

Michael Loftus, Race Chair
BunnyPalooza!

Resident gets out the word in Ocean View
Editor:

Should our Town of Ocean View allow big signs on Route 26 and on the buildings that face it? Why do I have to go investigate a sign variance request to find our that a Royal Farms gas station is planned between Mariner’s Bethel church and the new CVS?

We have existing sign regulations and requirements which will keep our town looking nice and prevent these intrusions. Businesses should only apply to build here if they meet these standards.

Now, a proposed Royal Farms gas station and convenience store, as its first step, is requesting much larger signs, which also encroach into the required setbacks. The establishment built on that lot, according to the variance already given to CVS signage, is to have a sign under the free-standing CVS sign and one sign on the building.

Instead, they want their own freestanding sign that will be too big and too close to the road, plus four wall signs that would exceed the permissible one sign and exceed the maximum 10 square feet.

Obviously, to me, this is not the place to put a Royal Farms gas station. Their signage requirements alone are daunting, not to mention the traffic problems that will exist as it is placed between two traffic lights that are so close together.

Some citizens of our town might object to it being so close to the cemetery.

The four volunteers on the Board of Adjustments and Town need your input and support before their meeting on Thursday, April 18, at 5 p.m. at 32 West Avenue.

If you are not sure what I am talking about, go to the Town administration office and see the plans or attend the meeting.

All across America are beautiful towns that have enforced regulations on how their towns should look. Companies come and build appropriate structures in them, which encourages people to visit and purchase homes there. Let’s make Ocean View one of these towns.

Peggie Ravida
Ocean View

Steele is back, and up against the system
Editor:

I am having trouble understanding the problem with sequester. First, only in Washington is a 4 percent raise a cut if it was not a 6 percent raise as promised. And, that is what is happening.

So, let me see if this works for the readers of this letter: Hypothetically, I am given $500,000 a year for my budget. Instead of getting 6 percent raise, $30,000, I am “only” getting 4 percent raise, $20,000. So, now I have a budget of $520,000. Last year, I had four employees based on the $500,000, but this year I have to lay off an employee because I am only getting $520,000 instead of the $530,000.

Do the people whom we elected think we are that stupid? Apparently so. We keep electing the same ones.

Harry Steele
Bethany Beach