Letters to the editor -- August 27, 2010

Hocker gives his side on Millville events

I would like to provide clarification to an article in the June 25, 2010, issue of the Coastal Point. The front-page article titled “Millville votes against C-2 rezoning” quoted Mayor Don Minyon as saying: “Four members of this council sat on here and accepted the comprehensive plan, 5-0, without any objections in public hearings or written comments. So, obviously, people weren’t interested when we were writing that comprehensive plan. So a unanimous vote sort of sways me.”

What Mayor Don Minyon failed to state was that the idea of the “free zoning” period was his idea, which ultimately led to the 5-0 vote.

It was July 2007 when the council voted to approve the new zoning regulations and designate a C1/C2 zoning for the Town of Millville. At this time only two properties were considered to be rezoned C-2 due to the current use, the Food Lion property and the Giant shopping center. The Giant property met the requirement for the use and the lot size. The Food Lion property, consisting of 4.53 acres, met the criteria for the use but did not meet the criteria for the new 5-acre minimum.

After a long process of having the comprehensive plan certified by the State of Delaware, the Council received the State’s comments back and was ready to implement the new comprehensive plan at the Oct. 13, 2009, meeting. It was at this time the council realized other properties had been added to the list of C-2 properties, many of which did not fit the use or the acreage minimum.

Those properties are as follows: Hickman Plaza – 2.09 acres, Beebe Medical – 1.27 acres, Banks Wine & Spirits – less than 2 acres, and the property on Route 17, currently used as agricultural, where the Home Depot was planning to build.

At this time, myself and another councilman questioned why the additional properties were added to the list of C-2 properties, especially since some of those did not fit the use or the acreage to be considered a C-2 property.

There were property owners within the Town of Millville, including my family, that fit the criteria and acreage to be rezoned C-2 but were not included. My family property consisting of 6 acres of C-1 with approximately 550 feet of frontage on Route. 26 exceeded the criteria, and actually had more road frontage than any of the properties that were included in the C-2 zoning.

Until the questions regarding why other properties that met the criteria were not included were answered, I was prepared to vote against the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

The day of the vote, I received a phone call from Mayor Don Minyon regarding an idea he had brainstormed. He asked if I would be satisfied to vote to implement the Comp Plan if he recommended a “free zoning” period to allow the other properties that fit the C-2 zoning to come forth and apply without incurring any fee. Knowing that any property owner who fit the C-2 criteria would be given a fair chance to come forth and request a zoning change without incurring a fee, I was willing to proceed and support the Comprehensive Land Use Plan; hence, the unanimous vote.

As an affected property owner, I feel as if the Council misled all parties involved in the “free zoning” period. The Council did recognize there were other properties that should have been included in the C-2 zoning; otherwise, each councilperson would not have supported Mayor Don Minyon’s idea of a “free zoning” period.

The Council had a good opportunity to correct an oversight; however, it appears as if three of the councilmen were simply going through the process with intentions to vote against all requests. It should be noted that their votes were cast without articulating any reasons in support of their decision other than to follow the Planning & Zoning Commission’s questionable logic in formulating a recommendation.

Gerald “Gerry” W. Hocker Jr.
Councilman, Town of Millville

Resident asks about bridge safety

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) Secretary Carolann Wicks and was copied to several state officials and forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication:

I am writing to you to seek your intervention to resolve the dangerous flooding conditions present at the southern end of the Indian River Bridge during and following rainstorms. This situation has repeatedly occurred since last winter but has not recurred until recently due to the severe drought we are experiencing in Sussex County. Because this is not a new problem, I am very disappointed that DelDOT has not taken action to correct this situation prior to this time.

I was affected by a dangerous situation most recently last Thursday evening, Aug. 12. It took my family more than one hour to travel south from Dewey Beach and across the bridge about 9 p.m. that evening due to the two traffic merges that drivers were forced to make as they crossed the bridge. Standing water in the right lane of the southbound lanes of the bridge was exceedingly deep, and cars had to merge into the left lane to avoid driving through the deepest part of the standing water.

Flooding conditions were also evident on the northern end of the bridge on Aug. 12, and every time it rains that dangerous situation recurs, which can cause cars to hydroplane, which could also cause serious accidents. On Aug. 12, a DelDOT truck with flashing lights sat in the right lane the north bound side of the bridge, but that was the only clue that an emergency situation existed, and it did not help to alert the southbound traffic to the problem, as the truck was not visible until our car was near the flooded south end of the bridge.

In addition, no state police were positioned at either side of the bridge to alert travelers to the problem or to assist with the traffic gridlock that was present.

I understand that this unsafe situation reocurred on Aug. 18, 2010, when it rained most of the day and serious flooding conditions were again present.

I would like to know what, if anything, DelDOT is doing or planning to do to alleviate these flooding conditions, which are causing a serious public safety concern. Have you considered pumping excess water away from the bridge or providing some sort of drainage solution, as each rain creates a serious hazard? Do we have to wait for a serious accident or loss of life before you act?

If you have done anything to date, it clearly is not resolving the problem. Please give this problem your immediate attention for the safety of our residents and guests to the resort areas.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this dangerous situation. I look forward to your reply. If you have any questions or need additional information, please call me.

Kathryn T. Vengazo
Ocean View