Letters to the Editor -- February 10, 2012

Farmers’ market a hit, thanks to many

The 2011 Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market had a great season. We had more visitors, more sales, more farm products, more volunteers and more space for shoppers to browse for their favorite fresh fruits, vegetables and other farm-related products – in the heart of downtown Bethany Beach.

The market added an additional Sunday to its season (the Sunday following Labor Day) as part of a larger effort to help extend the visitor season, but we experienced fewer vendors, reduced stocks of fruit and vegetables, fewer shoppers and greatly reduced sales.

The market remains committed to the goal of helping extend Bethany’s fall visitor season, but the realities of Delmarva’s growing season and the market’s emphasis on abundant supplies of farm produce – locally grown and freshly picked – will remain major factors in determining what the market can do to help.

Bethany’s farmers’ market was organized in 2007 by the Bethany Beach Landowners Association, the Women’s Civic Club of Bethany Beach, Carrie Bennett of Bennett Orchards and the Delaware Department of Agriculture. Bethany’s town council and manager, along with a critical assist from PNC Bank, encouraged and supported the establishment of the market and contributed substantially to its success. PNC Bank’s continuing help, unfailing and generous support from Town government and local media enthusiasm all contributed to the market’s success over its five seasons.

The Bethany market thanks its many volunteers for the work they do on behalf of the market, including citizens who host lawn signs advertising the market. We are also grateful for the support real estate agencies provide when they encourage Bethany’s summer visitors to take full advantage of fresh farm bounty at the center of town on Sunday mornings.

We estimate that between 1,400 and 2,000 shoppers visit the market each Sunday, and vendors reported gross sales in 2011 that were approximately 15 percent higher than the previous year.

Our shopper surveys each Sunday tell us that we have more residents/owners attending the first few markets; but, by the second week in July, the majority of shoppers are visitors to Bethany. In 2011, 65 percent to 70 percent of shoppers, including vacationers, told us that they were now regular customers. Most of our first-time shoppers at the market in 2011 were people on vacation, but each Sunday brought some local residents/owners to the market for the first time.

Because of the market’s central location in Bethany, a high percentage of shoppers each week walk or bike to the market. Many motorists tell us they are returning home after church by way of the market.

We ask shoppers how they first learned about the market, and signage is the medium most mentioned, followed by flyers from rental agencies, newspaper stories, the town’s calendar and announcements from the bandstand, word of mouth, Internet searches and “happened by.”

Surveyed shoppers over the 2011 summer season were from 35 states, with Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, District of Columbia and New Jersey accounting for most. Visitors tell us they were regular shoppers at farmers’ markets in their home towns.

As the market team gears up for the 2012 season, we especially thank Bethany town government, PNC Bank, real estate agencies and volunteers for helping to make the market possible and successful. We wish also to thank our shoppers, whose patronage makes the farmers market movement work. We appreciate your appreciation of the value of freshly grown and picked fruits and vegetables from farmers who are also neighbors.

For more information, or with questions, feel free to e-mail Dan Costello at Dancostello2@verizon.net.

Dan Costello
Bethany Beach

Sea Pines reaches out to county council

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to the Sussex County Council and was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

As you’re likely aware, there is a 100-foot cell tower proposed amidst our 46-home development, Sea Pines Village (adjacent to the Town of Bethany), that over the past three years, has gone through an arduous approval process, not yet concluded (the unanimous thoughtful denial decision by the BoA is currently being appealed by the applicants).

Our community, along with many other affected residents, is pleased that the BoA agreed with our assertion that this was an inappropriate proposal, harmful to a great number of people in so many ways. However, during this process, some important issues surfaced that we believe should be addressed by the Council (the BoA has even suggested the need for policy improvements in deliberating our case).

Primarily, there is an illegally permitted and constructed “temporary” cell tower installation that needs to be removed now. The 80-foot wooden pole and equipment trailer is nothing like the 100-foot metal tower and shed in the actual permit documents. Two years ago, the Sussex Building Department allowed the construction, presumably knowing it wouldn’t be the design shown on the drawings, after the initial BoA approval (subsequently denied unanimously) and upon a tacit verbal consent by the BoA solicitor.

The Building Department should never allow non-conforming construction to ever begin (this is one of their primary protective functions), and the BoA solicitor is not empowered to approve building permits. In fact, a year ago (January 2011) the department issued a formal Violation Notice to remove the installation, which would have corrected this, but it has yet to be enforced.

The illegal “temporary” installation continues to be in violation of County Code 115-194.2, and in fact, has never been in conformance. The County’s failure to enforce its own ordinances creates a legal liability for the County and its personnel, and sets very dangerous precedents.

First, it establishes that any permit applicant can now build whatever variation of a design they please in Sussex, whether or not it conforms to permit documents, with subsequent impunity. Secondly, it also means that the County Code can be ignored without consequence.

Regardless of the continued harm this installation is causing many taxpaying citizens, or the enrichment of the landowner, the existing tower should be removed immediately, and the departments instructed on proper rules and procedures, so that his will not occur in the future.

We’d also like to work with Council to create additional improvements to the cell tower approval process and codes: such as mandatory written hearing notifications to neighbors, sensible drop-zone regulations and larger setbacks with buffer protection to adjacent residential areas.

Barbara Gerk, President
Sea Pines Village Homeowner’s Association

Reader responds to previous letter

This is in response to the letter by Mr. Bill Clemens in the Feb. 3 issue, in which he questions why people upset with policies of the current administration were not “mad” about those of the past administration – (“Grateful for hope and change”).

Mr. Clemens is obviously a man with very strong convictions. Therefore, I do not believe it would be productive to challenge his specific, “why weren’t you mad” questions. Rather, I will make two general observations for his and your readers’ consideration.

First, Mr. Clemens has created a false dilemma: He seems to believe that if you are opposed to policies of the current administration then you must have been in favor of all policies of the previous administration. In fact, I cannot recall any administration with which I had 100 percent agreement.

Second: When Mr. Clemens says, “You finally got mad when a black man was elected president,” he paints anyone and everyone who disagrees with the policies of the current administration as racist. This absurd change must be labeled for what it is: whether used by politicians, pundits, or angry letter writers, it is “playing the race card” and can only detract from serious debate issues.

Frank Jenkins
Ocean View

More response to previous letter

I am writing to comment on Mr. Clemens’ Feb. 3 letter, under “Grateful for hope and change.”

I will start with two sentences on the continued absurd objections over no-bid Haliburton contracts from the left. First, these contracts were awarded because there was/is no company that could have performed those services! And, second, perhaps we should have considered Hollywood for those contracts because they make movies with the kind of equipment Haliburton actually used for the work dictated in those contracts?

Mr. Clemens refers to the “unprecedented preemptive” illegal war in Iraq, a country that did not represent a threat to our security. How quickly they forget that virtually all of our allies’ intelligence agencies shared our concern with WMD’s. Hindsight is a wonderful way to go through life. You are always right! Unfortunately, that’s the only “right” about you guys!

Mr. Clemens accuses Bush of borrowing more money than his 42 predecessors combined. And most of that money was for national security. Of course, he’s not concerned that Obama has apparently borrowed more than his 43 predecessors combined and in less than three years. Most of which is to secure support from unions and other voting blocs, as well as to implement his socialist/Marxist agenda.

But I will have to agree with Mr. Clemens concerning jobs going overseas. But this is certainly nothing new. After all, it was Clinton that signed NAFTA and we have had a Democrat-controlled House and Senate during the years since. Even now, Obama’s jobs czar, Mr. Emalt of GE, is blatantly moving a whole factory and product line to China! He’s fulfilling his jobs-creation mandate; unfortunately, the jobs are in China.

And Mr. Clemens and Obama blame Bush for the Wall Street and the Fannie and Freddie fiascos. Let me repeat myself: this also happened with a Democrat-controlled House and Senate. Of course, Bush is not free of culpability, but he is not alone.

Mr. Clemens mentions the Affordable Health Care Act, apparently because he buys into that word “affordable,” as well as the need for it. There is nothing “affordable” about this law. Dare I question borrowing more money that will increase our national debt? Moreover has there ever been a bill or law passed that did not spend far more than originally budgeted?

Also, I and many others continue to question the need for universal health care. The Democrats would have us believe that it is needed, but it is actually their way of expanding big government and securing votes. There is way too much intrusion on our lives and rights in this law that was passed without even being properly vetted. Do you remember Pelosi’s directive, something like, “You don’t have to read it, just pass it.” And now we have a very complicated law with voluminous procedures and directives for enforcement. Guess what? More big government!

And it apparently will control among so many other things, the salaries of our most educated profession, our doctors. That is a travesty! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! My last words on this are a reminder that those miscreants that have had the temerity to pass this atrocious law keep their golden health care program and remain exempt from the one they created for the rest of us.

Mr. Clemens, I’m a white man and I strongly resent your infantile and racist inference that we’re mad because we have a black president. Absolutely not! We’re mad because we have an incompetent Democrat as a president! We’re mad because he is a president that lacks credentials and the experience necessary to handle the biggest and toughest job in the world. A president that requires so much help that he has appointed many “czars” with dubious expertise in so many areas that it is difficult to keep track of them let alone what they do. A president whose leanings to the left – dare I say toward socialism/Marxism – makes us mad? We’re mad because we have a president that apologizes for America and does not seem really proud to be an American.

In closing, I’d like to say that it is time to move on from blaming Bush and the continuing barrage of distortions of his tenure and seriously ask, “What good has Obama accomplished?” Nothing that I can remember! So I say get out and vote Republican in the 2012 presidential election, because now more than ever we need real hope and change.

God bless America!

Thomas M. Keeley III
Ocean View

Welch not pleased with town, state

Frankford finally had its first election since 2003.The three incumbents won by a large margin. Out of the 100 registered voters in the Towns’ electorate, 83 voted. Having an 80 percent registered voter turnout for an election is worth noting. It is also worth noting that the people that are registered are only about 14 percent of the people able to register.

Our Town has used various methods to deny me the ability to be registered. The Town has used the Town and County building permit process to claim that we are not residents. They claimed that these permits deny us the right to occupy our home.

After several people from our community asked me to run for council, I decided I should try. As I was applying to register, the town clerk immediately employed the Department of Elections to officially deny my intent-to-run application. The Attorney General interceded and clarified the rules that they were employing to deny my application, and I was allowed to be a candidate.

Our Town is still representing that it is proper for the town clerk and the Delaware election commissioner to deny candidate applications without the input of the person applying or the town Board of Elections.

Due to these illegal tactics that were being employed to deny candidate registration, and the lack of proper advertising, all of the challenging candidates asked for a delay in the election to allow for proper voter and candidate registration. The Board of Elections was misguided by their legal representation and the Department of Elections to believe that they did not have the authority to delay the election.

Our town government’s lack of respect for the rules governing the election are due to the State of Delaware’s support of these illegal tactics.

Greg Welch