Democracy is alive and well in Sussex Couny

For those who love celebrating the freedoms of democracy in this nation, there were plenty examples of it in action over the past week.

Locally, the people of Bethany Beach voted on a referendum concerning the Town borrowing money for a new water tower. Throughout our great state, primary elections were held on Tuesday. Voting is the obvious and most pure example of democracy at work, as it illustrates the concept of “one person, one vote” in a tangible manner.

However, there are other examples of the greatness of democracy, and we saw that again locally this week. People have an opportunity to put in their two cents before issues are decided. We see this all the time with letters to the editor in local newspaper, letter-writing campaigns to elected and appointed officials and signs dotting people’s front yards opposing or supporting different issues of the day.

Last week, Sussex County Planning & Zoning discussed the proposed Castaways Bethany project, located off Cedar Neck Road near Ocean View. This project would ultimately consist of a campground, multi-family duplex residential units and a waterpark. More than 100 opponents of this project showed up at the public hearing to have their voices heard, and officials said they received hundreds of letters of opposition to the project.

Ultimately, the planners will largely be using the law, and what is permitted and not permitted under the law, to make their decision. But feedback from the public, particularly one-sided feedback, could help sway their decision if it comes down to their interpretation of the law. If this goes forward to Sussex County Council, they, too, will be bound by the letter of the law, but they, too, will also have some discretion.

We are not offering an opinion either way on the project. We see the benefits of having another campground in the area, particularly the potential impact to local businesses, but we also are wary of the potential impact on those who call that area home. All we can do is try to present our readers with as much information as possible, and allow you to formulate your own decisions.

However, we will offer our opinion on the public reaction to this proposal. We love it. We love when people of this community are informed and make their voices heard. We love when people are not afraid “to fight city hall.” The surest path to failure is to not try, and we applaud those who have tried.
At the public hearing last week, Councilman Robert Wheatley acknowledged those who showed up and thanked them for their participation.

“It’s the only way we know anyone cares,” said Wheatley.

Those are accurate words, and who knows if the planners have been affected or not by the public outcry? At least you know they are paying attention.