Letters to the Editor -- May 30, 2008

Baker sets the record straight on development

This is in response to a letter sent to members of the press on May 22, 2008.

The Sussex County Council turned down a request by the developers of the Estates of Sea Chase to not construct the pool house, as was originally required. The Sussex County Council turned down this request by the developer on May 20, 2008, by a vote of 3-0. Thus, the developer is required to build the pool house, as originally approved.

The Sussex County staff, including myself, had previously corresponded with the developer, Robino Sea Chase LLC, requesting either the pool house be built, or an application for a change in conditional use be applied for. The May 20, 2008, decision was the result of this legal process.

It is important to note that the homeowners association has been working with the developer to resolve differences. In fact, we have copies of correspondence from the homeowners association’s attorney indicating that, as of April 22, 2008, the homeowners association was in discussions with the developer regarding the pool house issue.

The County Council was waiting to make a decision regarding this matter, since the homeowners association and developer were attempting to resolve the issue. But, as previously noted, the County Council, on Tuesday, May 20, 2008, made the decision to deny the developer’s request to not build the pool house.

Regarding another comment that the project has not been certified as complete by the Sussex County Conservation District, per a Feb. 7, 2008, letter, several minor issues are outstanding regarding correcting areas of erosion and providing grass seeding of storm water ponds. Per Mr. Jim Elliott of the Sussex Conservation District, these are minor issues typical of follow-up with new developments and they will be addressed.

As previously noted, the Planning and Zoning Department requirements have been met, except for the completion of the pool house and related parking spaces. The developer is required to complete the construction of the pool house and parking spaces as soon as possible. The developer will be meeting with the County to discuss the pool house design. The County will be following up to ensure that it is done promptly.

The County also is holding a performance bond for this project. The amount of the bond is $236,553 that will ensure that the project is completed per County requirements. The County is responsible to ensure that certain approved amenities are provided. If a developer provides sales information that includes additional amenities, the County does not have legal authority to require those additional advertised amenities.

The County has responded and required the construction of the pool house. We have worked with the homeowners association, as well as the developer. The homeowners association has been negotiating with the developer regarding this matter. The County Council decision was made after it appeared the developer and the homeowners association could not come to terms. The County has enforced, and will continue to enforce, its regulations regarding this and other developments.

David B. Baker, Administrator
Sussex County

Booth lauds Department of Correction response

Earlier this year, a number of constituents approached me to discuss pending changes to the Prison Industries Furniture Refinishing Program.

Under the program, citizens can get their prized, worn furnishings refurbished by skilled prison labor at a very reasonable cost. The work is performed at the Delaware Correctional Center (DCC), located near Smyrna. However, Sussex County residents can drop off furniture at the Sussex Correctional Institution (SCI), south of Georgetown. The furniture is transported to DCC and returned to SCI when it is completed.

While I have some concerns about the value of the program, it’s understandably popular and provides inmates with a constructive, structured activity.

Seeking to reduce costs, the Department of Correction had proposed eliminating the transfer of furniture between Georgetown and Smyrna. In this challenging fiscal environment, I can appreciate the reasons behind this suggestion. However, I believe it was short-sighted.

Abolishing the transfer of Sussex County furniture would have led local residents to take the items to DCC individually, resulting in dozens of excursions by car, in lieu of a single trip by truck. While cheaper for the Department of Correction, the proposal would have been wasteful and unsound when viewed from a broader societal perspective. I also think it would have unfairly burdened Sussex Countians wishing to use the program with costs not paid by other state residents.

After I and other Sussex County legislators expressed our concerns, the Department of Correction decided not to change the program and to continue to transfer the furniture of Sussex County residents to DCC.

I applaud the Department of Correction’s wise decision, as well as their continuing efforts to make the agency more efficient.

State Rep. Joe Booth

Gardening for the Bays group thankful for help

The “Gardening for the Bays” Native Plant Sale Committee and Center for the Inland Bays staff would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all those who contributed to the success of this year’s sale on Saturday, May 3, 2008.

This was our fourth and most successful sale. First, many thanks to Coastal Point for helping us get people out for the event and, for those who couldn’t come, providing information and education about the value of native plants for backyard wildlife and for habitat protection in the Inland Bays watershed.

Special thanks go to the four nurseries that brought a large assortment of native plants to be sold. This year’s nurseries were East Coast Garden Center, Millsboro; Environmental Concern, St. Michaels, Md.; Envirotech, Lewes; and Bethany Beach Gardens.

We are also grateful to the Millville Volunteer Fire Department for loaning us tables and chairs, the Town of Fenwick for loaning us their large tent and to Bethany Beach Fire Department for advertising the sale on their electronic sign.

The purpose of the sale is to educate the community about the benefits of gardening with native plants, so we want to thank the non-profit groups and government agencies that supported our sale with information booths. This year the non-profit groups included the Master Gardeners of Sussex County, Delaware Native Plant Society, Delaware Nature Society, Water Use Plan Implementation Committee, DNREC Watershed Assessment and CIB Citizens’ Advisory Committee.

Our sale would not have been possible without the hard work of many volunteers. Cathy Greco did a great job lining up all our volunteers. This year’s volunteers were Bobby Collins, Graham and Nancy Purchase, Tom Greco, Marti Marino, Betsy Henifin, Jack and Vernie Griffith, Helen Hahn, Mary Berquist, Nonie Cassaccio, John Dougherty, Pat Fulton, Barb Butler, Peggy Hepburn, Charlie Taylor, Ron Wuslich, Carol Bason, Wendy Nealis, Ellie Vansant, Kelsey Minyon, Chris Minyon, Cheryl Rehrig, Denise Hoeksema, Lynn and Ted Bowen, Pat Wood and Tricia Derkasch.

Don Minyon did a great job as our event announcer and providing background music during the sale. Thank you, Don.

Thanks to Susan Ryan for providing delicious food from the Good Earth Market for the fourth year in a row. The wonderful food is becoming part of the Gardening for the Bays sale tradition, and the profits that they so generously donate back to the Center for the Inland Bays helps cover the expenses of putting on the event.

Two area garden clubs participated in the sale this year. We are grateful to The Gardeners by the Sea for helping with publicity by distributing flyers all over the watershed and the Sussex Gardeners for bringing a display about earthworms to the sale. Many sale visitors went home with a “can of worms.”

Native plants attract many birds to our area and we were fortunate to have Jean Shaw present to lead two bird walks the morning of the sale. Bob Edelen, native plant gardener and member of the Delaware Native Plant Society, presented a talk on Delaware Native Plants at the Good Earth Market the week before the sale. Thank you, Jean and Bob, for sharing your expertise with the community.

Pat Drizd, 2008 Gardening for the Bays Chair
2008 Native Plant Sale Committee: Pat Drizd, Sally Boswell, E.J. Chalabala, Barbara Freimuth, Susan Ryan, Don Minyon, Jan Thompson, Diann Sherwin, Lisa Arni, Bobby Collins, Tom Greco, Cathy Greco, Karen Knight, Fran Meehan, Cece Niemi

Resident upset with South Bethany decision

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to South Bethany Mayor Gary Jayne and members of the South Bethany Town Council and forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

I am disappointed and, frankly, surprised by your recent decision to uphold the moratorium on all vendors in South Bethany until March of 2009. Despite the well-considered presentation made by Melvin and Jeff McMahon and their attorney at the May 9 town council meeting, and in light of the fact that were numerous comments from residents supporting the sale of snowballs on Ocean Drive and encouraging the council to consider a compromise and not one comment opposed to the idea, the council did not alter its decision.

I respect the council’s concern about children and traffic, though, regardless how many resolutions are passed, no one can guarantee the safety of all of South Bethany’s residents and visitors. I recognize that, with the problems that still need to be resolved related to the beach replenishment project, the sale of snowballs on the beach is not a high priority. I understand that the current moratorium is temporary and that the issue will be revisited next spring with the plan of resuming the sale of snowballs/ice cream in South Bethany in a more controlled way.

Nevertheless, I believe that your recent decision was wrong. It showed no willingness to work with the McMahons or to acknowledge the opinions of the South Bethany residents who spoke at the meeting, just as the original decision to institute the moratorium was wrong because it was made without seeking widespread public input.

For now, my only option is to agree to disagree. Be mindful, however, that, in the eyes of my 6-year-old niece and 3-year-old nephew, and in the eyes of many beachgoers, including myself, until the GoMelvo snowball trucks are running again on Ocean Drive, South Bethany will not be “The Best Little Beach in Delaware.”

Sandi Roberts
South Bethany