Letters to the Editor — November 27, 2015

Fenwick resident weighs in on motel


A letter to your paper last week supported the idea of a new motel in Fenwick Island. Almost no one opposes a new motel on the existing Sands Motel site. What many, if not most, are opposing is a proposal for a 40 percent increase in allowable motel room density and the accompanying possibility that the increase would apply to the entire commercial district.

But a larger question is why is the Town in such a rush to approve an increase in density because of the wishes of one developer? Why has the Town not asked for any plans or commitments on the part of this developer?

It amazes me that many individual homeowner requests for a council review of Town policies have not even made it to the council agenda. A developer that just bought the property in March walks in, asks for an increase in zoning density because he wants to make more money, and it is on the agenda two months later.

The developer has not even submitted a plan. Nor has he even tried to assuage the fears of the property owners of adjoining lots. Now the council wants to approve a new regulation that is fraught with legal risk.

The Town Council initially voted to increase density for the entire commercial zone. When they realized the level of opposition, they retreated and offered a new proposal that theoretically would only apply to the existing motels.

The problem is that it does not comply with Delaware Code. If successfully challenged, it could allow other properties to be developed at the new higher density. I hired a well-respected local zoning attorney to review the Town’s current proposal, and his opinion is that it is not legally sound. I have brought this to the attention of the mayor but not received a response to my letter.

Does the majority of the Town Council really want higher motel density for all commercial property?

The Town Council needs to take a step back, address the neighbor’s concerns about noise and traffic, and make sure that the new regulation is compliant with Delaware law. Then it can proceed with confidence that it can achieve what the entire community wishes.

Richard Benn
Fenwick Island

Fenwick homeowner against zoning change


I am writing this letter because I received a postcard at my home in Maryland from the new owners of the Sands Motel. I am appalled by this tactic. I do not support how the new owners want to change the zoning. They knew what the zoning was when they bought the hotel! I guess the owner wants Fenwick to become Ocean City north!

My parents bought a lot and built their home in Fenwick because it was quiet and beautiful. Letting wealthy developers who do not live in Fenwick come in rape the land and leave after they make the money is a mortal sin!

Tell the new owners to stop harassing me and others! Stop telling lies! Fenwick does not have a downtown! Who wrote this trash? Obviously, they have deep pockets and hired a marketing company.

I do hope the council understands that if this occurs, you will be setting a precedent and away goes the quiet resort!

I will not be able to attend the meeting in December, but I do hope you all take the consideration of the home owners, not just the developers who have deep pockets and don’t care about Fenwick.

I sent this email to the town council and Sands.

We must remember we are a coastal town not an urban area. If we want a “downtown,” we need to live in an urban area! … Fenwick is not O.C.

I sent my survey into the council. It was no, don’t allow this change in zoning!

Sue Camardese
Fenwick Island

Fenwick Island: ‘The Quiet Resort’?


I write this letter to the community of Fenwick Island and the council that represents it. In the last year, there has been increasing volume coming from residents of our beautiful town on the border of Maryland and Delaware. Issues have risen that are causing the voices of many of the towns homeowners to become vocal in what was historically a laidback, residential enclave. Are we at risk of losing the moniker of the “Quiet Resort” both literally and figuratively?

The issues fueling this discussion are related to the recent FEMA recommendation on freeboarding and a request to modify current Town hotel room density at the request of the new owner of the Sands Motel. There have been very strong positions raised on both sides of these issues.

The good news is that people are communicating, making their feelings known regardless of their position. It’s a new situation for the current town council, who say they have historically not received a lot of input from the property owners. Some would say that this was viewed as approval of past decisions and direction of the town, others apathy and still others simple unawareness of the impact of decisions.

I am personally against changing current ordinances relating to the Sands Motel for the benefit of a few, but also see the point that it may be time for the hotel to get a new lease on life.

It’s not an all-or-none discussion, and most importantly we must fully consider the impact of any change on the town as a whole in the future. I look forward to the public hearing being held by the town council (as is required by charter) on Dec. 4 on the hotel room ordinance change. Let’s hope that the focus is on what is best for the town, not just today, but in the years to come.

How timely it is that Fenwick Island is facing this new situation in the midst of an upcoming election year? Democracy is the opportunity to be heard both through elections and through public opinion, and neither should be construed as the exclusive channel!

Kevin Carouge
Fenwick Island

Reader offers defense of ‘Fenwick Forum’


I am writing this as a founding member of the Fenwick Island Forum and as one of the current moderators to respond to a recent letter “Reader feels new motel will help town.” In particular, I am responding to the last paragraph.

The Fenwick Island Forum is open to everyone with a stake in Fenwick Island.

Readers should go to the forum website, fenwickforum.org, to see for themselves. There is no “preordained narrative.”

Of the 144 comments we have received to date, one comment saw delayed publication. The forum does have a few simple requirements for comments: no profanity; no personal or ad hominem attacks; comments should be germane to Fenwick Island; and comments should be relevant to the article the reader is commenting on.

In the judgment of one of our moderators, the writer’s comment fell short on the requirement that the comment be relevant to the specific article. The editor did send an email to the writer requesting that he re-submit his comment to a more relevant forum article. The commenter did not re-submit nor reply to the email, but we did go ahead and publish the comment as originally submitted.

The more important point regards the forum itself. Everything has to start somewhere, and the Fenwick Island Forum began as a casual street-corner conversation among neighbors. The main thrust of the conversation was that the town government does virtually nothing to engage Fenwick Island homeowners or to inform them of important proposals and changes affecting the community.

The town website was no help. Nor did the town send newsletters or notices via email to residents and homeowners. Fenwick Island is a resort town and by our estimate more than 75 percent of homeowners are non-resident. We established the forum essentially to plug the gap; to provide an electronic means for homeowners, residents and others with a stake in Fenwick Island to become engaged in the affairs of their community.

The forum has been operational since roughly mid-October. We believe that we are successfully fulfilling our stated mission. I urge everyone with a stake in Fenwick Island to go to fenwickforum.org and read all the articles and comments. Subscribe to the Fenwick Forum newsletter and join in shaping your community.

Charles Farmer
Fenwick Island

Refugees, democracy and national security


I am proud to live in Delaware. Delaware is one of only 10 states whose governor, as of Nov. 16, has issued a welcome to additional Syrian refugees. A refugee migration of Syrian and other Middle Eastern peoples are overwhelming the resources of the EU nations, as well as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

The number of war refugees exceeds anything seen since World War II. They are fleeing a country they love and virtually all that they have in an effort to live in peace as decent human beings with hope for a future without war.

To date, America has only accepted about 2,000 Syrian refugees in the three-plus years that Assad has waged war on his own people. Although Americans are loathe to admit it, the fact is that to a large degree our invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11 created the power vacuum in the Middle East, which has allowed Islamic terrorists not only to survive but to thrive.

Islamic extremists have been terrorizing their own countries and their own peoples (who are also mostly Muslims, it should be noted) for years. So taking in more of the refugees from this region is less noble than it may at first seem, but it is still the right thing to do both on humanitarian and democratic levels.

In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks and President Obama’s pledge to accept 10,000 more Syrian refugees, governors of 28 states have issued statements of refusal to those refugees. Indeed, many of them have issued orders to their directors of refugee relocation programs to halt all efforts to support Syrian refugees already in those programs.

Governors of six other states have asked for additional information about security policies and/or support from the federal government before making a decision. Governors of six states have skirted the issue by saying they have no refugee relocation programs and/or they haven’t been asked to take any refugees.

Governors of Delaware, Connecticut, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New York, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii, to their credit, have said they will welcome Syrian refugees. (Reference: Weeksweek.com Nov. 16, 2015, Map: Every State Accepting and Refusing

Syrian Refugees by Molly Mosendz)

The 28 state governors who say their state will not take more Syrian refugees have officially stated that their decision is based on the premise that security and safety of their citizens is their first priority. This seems specious at best, given that many of these same governors and other elected officials from these states fight every effort to close loopholes that allow sale of guns without background checks, which certainly puts citizens at risk.

That decision sounds even more irrational when the status of the 19 suicidal men in the 9/11 terrorist attack on American soil is considered. Not one of those men had entered the country illegally. All of them entered the U.S. legally on temporary tourist visas. That visa had expired on only three of them at the time of the 9/11 attack. Four of them were able to attend U.S. flight schools without problems but only one of them was known to have a visa appropriate for such study. (Reference: FAIR/Federation for American Immigration Reform report “Identity and Immigration Status of 9/11 Terrorists,” Updated, November 2011).

Refusal to accept Syrians on the basis of citizen safety also fails to acknowledge that at least four of the Paris attackers were French or Belgian nationals and not fresh immigrants. Only one of the Paris attackers had a Syrian passport, and it has been determined by authorities to be fake.

The current system for vetting immigrants into America may well need to be reviewed and strengthened. Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, who served as chair in the 113th Congress and is currently the highest ranking member of the Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee said as much in committee deliberations.

But he reminded his colleagues that: (a) Syrians seeking immigration status are already the most closely scrutinized group; (b) under the best of circumstances, this vetting takes 24 months and (c) not one of the Syrians granted immigration thus far has been arrested for any crime... not one.

It is extremely unlikely that a terrorist would choose this route when he/she has so many easier and quicker ways to enter America to do their dirty work. No system is foolproof; no absolute guarantee of safety can ever be given.

One thing all the terrorists do have in common is a claim to be Muslims (Islamic). Alas, every religion has its wingnuts! There is a difference between religion and faith, they are not equal. Religion without faith often leads to violence and to fear.

Haters and fear mongers throughout all of human history have taken for themselves great powers in periods of great change and human advances. The world is currently experiencing such a period of upheaval and growth. Those with faith in whatever religious tradition they profess, believe in their hearts and in their souls that the Supreme Being who created us all loves and protects us. It is also true that every religion, whether Christian, Judaism or Islam, demands of its faithful, compassion for all of creation.

Using the words refugee and terrorist in the same sentence, as if they equate, betrays both our humanity and our divinity if we believe we are of either God, Yahweh or Allah.

Gov. Cuomo of New York in an interview about his decision to accept more Syrian refugees perhaps said it best. He said in essence that we have to protect Americans as best we can without losing our souls and our democracy at the same time.

If we close the gates and build more and ever higher walls, we may as well take down the Statue of Liberty and burn all the copies of Emma Ezarus’ poem, which reads in part “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” They will be meaningless. American democracy will be lost to us. That is not who Americans are. That cannot be what we become. If we do, the terrorists win.

Thank you, Gov. Markell for giving Delawareans an opportunity to be reminded of and to honor our freedoms, our democracy and our faiths as America prepares to accept Syrian men, women and children, just like ourselves, who seek hope in a world that seems to have abandoned them. Thank you for saying “yes” on behalf of the citizens of Delaware!

Patricia W. Frey

Delawareans thankful for receiving gift of life


This holiday season, many Delawareans have a lot to be grateful for — the ability to share Thanksgiving with loved ones, a place to call home and an abundance of delicious food. These are just a few of the things that make the holidays meaningful — to Delaware residents and to Americans across the nation. But several individuals have something even more powerful to be grateful for — they’ve received the ultimate gift — the gift of life.

Today, more than 600 Delawareans are awaiting a life-saving organ transplant, and nationally over 122,000 are waiting. Unfortunately, because of the lack of individuals registered as donors, 22 people die each day in the U.S. while waiting. These frightening statistics make it even more significant for those who have received a second chance at life, and their appreciation this Thanksgiving — and every day — is huge.

Delaware resident and kidney recipient Susan Comegy commented, “For me, every day is Thanksgiving when you’ve been blessed with the gift of life. I am especially thankful this year as I had the privilege and incredible experience of meeting my donor’s father, and was able to thank him for making a decision that saved my life.”

Since the age of 15, Susan had been a Type 1 diabetic. Throughout most of her life, she worked hard to remain healthy and keep her diabetes under control. Then, after 40 years, she began experiencing serious health issues. She was underweight, weak and could barely walk. Her doctor said that her diabetes had caused her kidneys to decline, resulting in end-stage kidney failure. After extensive testing, she was listed on the organ transplant waitlist and was advised by her doctor to begin dialysis.

“I was so anemic from my kidney function being so low that I could barely walk across a room. I was very sick and was barely able to move,” she said. After nearly nine months of illness and waiting, Susan received a call that there was a donor who was a match for her.

Within a few days of receiving a transplant, Susan was like a new woman.

“At 57 years old, I felt better than I did as a teenager.” she said. “After my surgery, I woke up and felt like a different person. Now, I can even work out. I get up at 6 a.m., work all day and go to bed at midnight. My energy is endless.”

Susan’s donor was a 27-year-old man with three children.

“I feel a depth of gratitude for my donor that words cannot express. I believe I am blessed, and I am forever thankful.” she said. I try to give back now and live every day to its fullest, mindful of all that I’ve been given.”

Another Delaware resident who is giving thanks this holiday season is Bruce Schweiger. Bruce had experienced a lifetime of surgeries and treatments for his heart, starting when he was just a teenager.

In 2010, it became apparent that Bruce’s heart was failing, and he needed a transplant to survive. The prospect of waiting was terrifying for him, and he had to wait for nearly a year until he received the call that he had been desperately waiting for — letting him know that a heart was available for him.

This Thanksgiving, Bruce is appreciative of his gift, which has allowed him to celebrate another holiday with his family.

“I am thankful for all the love and support I have received from my wife, our family and friends up and through my transplant. The holiday also makes me think about my donor and his family - words can’t ever express the gratitude I feel for them, but they are always in my thoughts and prayers on Thanksgiving, and every day of the year.” Bruce said.

Gift of Life Donor Program has worked tirelessly for the past 41 years to coordinate donors’ generosity with those in need. Since 1974, Gift of Life — the organ procurement organization for eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware — has helped save nearly 40,000 lives through organ donation, and enhanced over half a million lives through tissue donation. For more information or to register, visit donors1.org. It only takes 30 seconds to register.

Allison McDaniel
Gift of Life Donor Program

Parent thankful for support system


This is a long overdue letter. As a parent of a special-needs child (adult now, as she is 18) and one thing that my child looks forward to is Special Olympics. We are very blessed here in Sussex County to have such great hosts for these events.

First, The Milford Bowling staff are always accommodating as these hundreds of athletes and their families come to their facility each year. They are always friendly and the staff in the food area are wonderful! They get quite busy on Special Olympics day. The smiles and kindness are always appreciated. They all make the experience better!

Second, Sussex Technical High School. For the last few years, they have been hosting two events, basketball and soccer. The administration should be very proud of the students that help with these events. Not only do they help the children go from event to event, they help score the events, but most important they cheer on and encourage each athlete during competition.

I was reminded of this recently as I arrived to watch the basketball competition on Nov. 17. The volunteer students were lined up in two lines as you entered the gym, and the athletes as they arrived walked between the lines, and the high school students cheered them as they came in. It warmed my heart to see the smile on the face of not only my child, but each athlete that walked through, or rode through in their wheelchair.

As we went through each event of competition, these young people (athletes) were greeted and cheered on as they competed, each one being called by name. These high school students are to be commended for their selfless acts of kindness, bringing joy to our Special Olympic athletes, from the students that help organize the event volunteers, to the young lady who sang so beautifully the national anthem, as well as the adult advisor(s) who oversee these young people and the parents of these young people.

They should be proud of them and should be commended for all they do for each of the Special Olympics athletes each time we visit their school.

Again, we are very lucky here in Sussex County to have this wonderful support of the Milford Bowling Lanes and Sussex Tech High School, their staff and the students! Thank you very much from a parent whose child is smiling more from your kindness.

Michelle Vickers