Letters to the Editor - Sept. 1, 2006

Fenwick guards are ‘golden’ in nation

The United States Lifesaving Association National Championships were recently held in Huntington Beach, Calif., featuring the best lifeguards and athletes from across the country. Los Angeles County; San Diego; California State Parks; Santa Cruz; Miami Beach; Daytona Beach; Smith Point, N.Y.; Rehoboth Beach, Del.; and Monmouth County, N.J. are just a few of the 48 beach patrols that participated.

It is with great pride that we share with the community the national championship and gold medal in the 4-by-100 soft-sand relay.

One of the most crucial aspects of ocean lifeguarding is the ability to quickly traverse the sand and enter the water to rescue victims, and our guards have established themselves as the fastest in the country.

Matt Lewis, Randy Vanderhook, Ben Gichner, Thomas Veith and substitute runner Clint Bunting are commended for their hard work and effort as lifeguards and competitors.

This great accomplishment would not have been possible without the financial support from our community and businesses. We hope that you will share in the accolades that are well deserved.

We thank you once again for you continued support and may the rest of your summer season be safe and enjoyable.

Tim Ferry, Captain
Fenwick Island Beach Patrol

Reader puts his words behind McClenny

Realizing the number of candidates running for election on Town Council in Bethany this year, it would seem that there are some people that are discontent with the current Town Council. Personally, I feel that it is so easy for the public to criticize the decisions when they are not always aware of all the circumstances involving a project.

I would like to endorse one candidate in particular. In my opinion, Tony McClenny, who became a council member two years ago, has done an exemplary job in representing the town’s best interest. He is detailed-oriented and will extensively research a situation before rendering a vote. Tony will go the extra mile to take on and follow through with any task that he is presented.

If you are considering a hard working, dedicated and honest council man, Tony McClenny will more than fill the position.

Ralph F. Brown
Bethany Beach

More development is dangerous in area

On the one-year anniversary of Katrina you have to wonder if the people tasked with the protection of the citizens and the environment of Sussex County are really just inept, or is there some other reason for their actions?

All summer we have heard the damage that would be done by a hurricane and a storm surge hitting this area, how far inland the flooding would impact. We have also heard that evacuation of the area near the beaches would be almost impossible. Anyone who has tried to drive Route 26 or Route 1 this summer can attest to that fact.

Yet, with all this information readily available, the approval for building more housing developments goes on. Can they be that inept?

As you read this, ground is being broken between the Canal and the Assawoman Wildlife Reserve for a new multi-unit development on Double Bridges Road. It is being done very quietly, no large signs, no big promotion, just bulldozers clearing old farmland. Could they be building on wetlands?

Our development is across the road, and we get water under some houses here, so I imagine being closer to the bay and canal may raise some question about wetlands. Could those tasked with protecting the environment in Sussex County be that inept to allow building on wetlands?

The deafening silence of the Sierra Club and other similar environmental groups is also a mystery. They have spent years trying to stop the dredging of the Canal for “environmental” reasons. Yet a multi-unit housing development destroying many acres of farmland that will have all sorts of chemicals running off into the canal from rains and flooding doesn’t seem to bother them. Seems strange that they remain silent.

If we are to believe what we have heard about tidal surges, flooding, inability to evacuate and potential huge amounts of property damage that a hurricane could do to this area, approving developments that put more people and property in high-risk areas is dangerous and irresponsible, if not criminal.

The same people who approve these projects will be the ones on the news after the hurricane so grief-stricken over the loss of life and property. Could those tasked with protecting us in Sussex County be that inept?

Personally, I don’t think those tasked with our safety and our environment are inept. I am confident that those that have the responsibility to keep our environment, property and families safe in Sussex County are the best money can buy.

Lou Scrivani

Incumbents have proven their worth

It’s that time again — when we have the opportunity to exercise our wonderful right to choose those we wish to have manage our Town’s day-to-day affairs. Fortunately, it appears that all of the candidates seem to be persons who are willing to make the necessary commitment out of their busy lives to do the best they can for Bethany Beach.

But, since only four can be selected, I believe that the four incumbents, (Lew Killmer, Tony McClenny, Jerry Dorfman and Harry Steele) are not only the best qualified but have proven through their council service that they truly deserve to continue in that role for another two years.

I’ve been involved in the Town’s administration for over a dozen years, six as a council member and over six on various committees, and its a pleasure to note that the leadership, accomplishments and work ethic of this Council are as good or better than any of our previous Councils.

To quickly illustrate this point:

(1) Property taxes: Compare our real estate taxes for each $100 of assessed value: Bethany is 8 cents; Millville, 20 cents; Ocean View, 50 cents; South Bethany, 65 cents; and Fenwick Island, $1.92. This is not one of those fuzzy abstract political issues — we are talking about your money and how much you must pay each year to be a property owner.

(2) The stunning floral displays that are around Bethany, which have almost turned our town into an arboretum, are not an accident but due to the wisdom of the council members to spend the necessary funds to beautify our Town — a decision that has remarkably added our streets and intersections as attractions we enjoy as we do our beaches and boardwalk.

(3) The beautiful new bandstand that, after years of delay, this Council has completed and which will enhance our summers for years to come.

(4) The strengthening of this Council of our intra-city transportation system by funding a second trolley to make the service even more convenient to us.

(5) In addition to all the above, the Town has received the annual report from its outside auditors, a report that praised its financial records, contained not even one management recommendation for improvement and which a localnewspaper’s headline described as “Bethany Beach aces its audit once again” — truly an outside testament to the professional management being provided by this Council.

By any objective standard, it is clear that these four incumbents have more than served all us as well as anyone could ask and in so doing have made our Town an even better place to be a property owner.

If you want to see this excellent leadership continue for the next two years, please do yourself (and our Town) a favor and reelect these four incumbents who have more than proven they are up the task of handling these important responsibilities.

Don Doyle
Bethany Beach

Religion is exactly what our youth needs

Wonderful, isn’t it? Nobody seems to remember when we did have prayer in school. When we had a school dress code. When abortion wasn’t legal. When parents let teachers paddle children. When children had respect for elders.

No these times are gone. Now we have children dressing like bums. Talking like bums, and we even have a morning after pill.

We now have children throwing their parents into nursing homes. Which I know is sometimes necessary, but it’s also necessary to visit them.

So you go on saying prayer and Bible-reading isn’t necessary, then take a look around you, to see how our world has changed. Strange in nursing homes you never see any Japanese, Chinese, or other far-Eastern parents. Could it be they teach a little more respect for their elders? Could it also be when a teacher did correct you years ago, if a parent found you out, you also got corrected at home? Your little darlings did make mistakes, and you as a parent, also took some of the blame.

Today the word is “not my child.” Nobody wants to take the blame today. That’s why we do need prayer and Bible reading in school. Let’s hear the world say, “Amen!”

Herb Fogleman
Ocean View

Gravatte’s comments available on Web site

I, Julia Jacobsen, co-editor, screwed up and take the blame for this. The statement from candidate Charles Gravatte was inadvertently dropped from the August Bethany Beach Landowners Association (BBLA) newsletter. The statement follows:

Charles Gravatte:

I have been coming to Bethany Beach since 1946. My grandparents and parents owned homes on Atlantic Avenue. When in high school and college, I was a member of the Bethany Beach Patrol.

I recently retired from Computer Sciences Corporation after 40 years where I held positions as controller, director of finance and administration and director of facilities.

My wife, Frances, and I have owned property in Bethany since 1970. Currently, we are residents of Loudoun County in Virginia and part-time residents of Bethany Beach.

Our daughter, her husband and their daughter live in Ocean View. Our son is in law enforcement in Loudon County, where he lives with his wife and two boys.

I have served on Bethany’s Budget and Finance Committee and the Planning Commission; and was vice-president of the BBLA.

Most important issues facing town during next two years:

• Beach replenishment — Without beach replenishment within the next two years there will be no ‘Beach’ in Bethany Beach.

• Promoting BB goal of remaining a “small, growing, residential resort community”

• Change will happen, but Council must listen to the concerns of the residents and property owners and include these concerns in future planning.

• Lessen Bethany’s revenue dependence on transfer taxes and permit fees

The budget process needs to prepare for operating expenses and revenues beyond one year

How do you define “open government”?

Where one can listen, comment, and provide input to the decision process. Please remember to vote, if you don’t vote you lose your participation in “open government.”

Julia Jacobsen, Co-editor
BBLA newsletter

McClenny is a credit to entire community

I would like to show my support for Tony McClenny, as councilman for Bethany Beach. I know Tony through my church, Bethany Beach Christian, and volunteer work with Family Connected in Millsboro.

Tony is always an able helper at church. He has refurbished hundreds of computers for children and families, who have been helped through Family Connected. He has a real interest in his church and community and I feel he would make choices that would be in the best interest of Bethany. Take time to talk to him or listen and read about his thoughts on your community and I’m sure you will decide to reelect him to the town council.

Rose Mary Hendrix
South Bethany

Town attorney’s response open to public

After recent public comment and criticism regarding the Town Council’s formation of the Commercial Design Guidelines Committee, I requested that the town solicitor, Terry Jaywork, provide a legal opinion on the propriety of the committee’s work and town council’s actions.

I respectfully request that this letter be printed as a letter to the editor in this week’s newspaper

Carol Olmstead, Vice-Mayor
Bethany Beach

Dear Vice Mayor Olmstead:

This letter is in response to your request that I clarify and comment upon the function and authority of the Town Planning Commission with regard to the recently-adopted Commercial Districts Design Guidelines.

Specifically, you indicated that several citizens had challenged the legitimacy of the process that led to the adoption of those guidelines because a special committee (the Design Guideline Development Committee) was appointed by the Town Council to develop those standards under the expedited time-table that had been created due to the moratorium imposed by the Town Council on February 10th, 2006.

You indicated your concern that these citizens appear to believe that there was something questionable or improper in delegating the development of those guidelines to that committee, as opposed to delegating that task to the Planning Commission.

The authority and responsibilities of the Planning Commission are set out at 22 Del. C. Chapter 7. These include: development of a “Comprehensive Plan” (which serves as the foundation for the Town’s zoning ordinance), the creation and amendment of the Town’s “official map” (if the Town Council elects to adopt an “official map”), and the authority (within such funding authorized by the Town Council) to make “investigations, maps, and reports of the…needs of the …town as [the Planning Commission] deems desirable” for submission to the town council.

Additionally, under 22 Del. C. Section 708, the Town Council may “provide for the reference of any other matter or class of matters to the planning commission before final action thereon…”. Pursuant to this statutory provision, the Town Council has, by ordinance (Section 40-3 of the Town Code) authorized the Planning Commission to “plan for the development, improvement, and beautification of the town,” administer the Subdivision Ordinance, and “conduct special studies and make recommendations to the [Town Council] on any subject related to community development…”.

Additionally, under Section 245-106 of the town zoning code, the Council has provided that any proposed amendment to the Zoning Code be sent to the Planning Commission for its recommendation prior to action thereon by the Town Council.

The Commercial Districts Design Guidelines focus almost entirely on matters effecting the exterior appearance of commercial buildings; the “dimensional” aspects of those buildings (which are governed by the town zoning ordinance) is impacted in (I believe) only one aspect, that regarding the allowable height of a building in the commercial zoning districts.

Because the Design Guidelines do not deal with “use” or “dimensional” restrictions (except for the one issue regarding height), there was no legal requirement that the Town Council send those standards to the Commission for its review and comment; and nothing in the state statute or the Town Code indicates that even amendments to the Zoning Code must originate in or be drafted by the Planning Commission, only that the Planning Commission have an opportunity to review a proposed amendment and make a recommendation to the Town Council prior to Council action on it.

More importantly, it is my understanding that the Guidelines were, in fact, sent to the Planning Commission for its review and comment prior to the holding of the public hearing before the Town Council, and that the Planning Commission made a recommendation (to require a “setback” above twenty-four (24) feet) prior to the Town Council’s adoption of the Guidelines.

Thus, while reasonable minds may disagree with the Council’s decision to establish a special committee to develop these guidelines, there was, in my opinion, nothing legally “improper” or “questionable” in the Town Council’s doing so.

Except for several narrow responsibilities (e.g. development and amendment of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan), the Planning Commission is a purely advisory body to the Town Council. The legislative authority to adopt the Guidelines in their final form (however that final form evolved) was in the Town Council, and it was within the Town Council’s discretion to decide whether to delegate the drafting of those Guidelines to the Planning Commission or to some other committee appointed by the Council.

Again, recognizing that reasonable minds may disagree, in this particular case, I think it is noteworthy that: (1) except for the one height issue, the standards deal with exterior appearance of commercial buildings, not their dimensional limits; (2) the Town Council was seeking to develop these standards on an expedited basis (as it was somewhat legally obligated to do under the moratorium it had imposed); (3) two members of the Planning Commission (one of whom was the Chairperson of the Planning Commission) were appointed to and served on the Design Guidelines Development Committee; and (4) in all events, the Guidelines were sent to the Planning Commission for its review and recommendation to Council before Council acted to adopt them.

But even if one does not accept these as valid considerations, it remains my opinion that the Town Council acted legally and within its authority to establish the Design Guidelines Committee and to charge that committee with the responsibility of drafting the guidelines for ultimate review and approval by the Town Council.

I hope that this is fully responsive to your inquiry. If not, please let me know.

John Terence Jaywork
Bethany Beach Town Solicitor

Reader says project is just plain wrong

I would like to talk about the actions of the Millville Town Council and their master plan for incorporating huge parcels of land into the Township of Millville so they may do whatever they deem “for the good of the community.”

Millville Town Council has incorporated around three sides of our small Townsend Acres community — 125 acres more or less from Agricultural to Residential Planned Community and then somehow zoned 20 acres more or less Commercial without written or verbal communication to its 20-year residents next door.

With the Commercial comes a Home Depot “super store” 100 feet away from our back doors. (Do you think our property value just went down $50,000 to $100,000 each?)

Keep in mind “for the good of the community” and this is to the north of us. Millville Town Council says they have done everything by the law. Whose law would let a Home Depot “super store” to build 100 feet away from a 20-year-old residential community? Just plain wrong.

To the east, they have approved Dove Landing a 498 residential planned community who we are not against. We welcome new neighbors. However, Home Depot doesn’t belong.

I know a lot of people in the area would like to see a Home Depot closer than Rehoboth, West Ocean City, Salisbury — all of which are about a half-hour away. But let’s be real. How many times a year will you shop there, maybe five or six times, unless you might be in the construction business?

We the people of Townsend Acres have to live with it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Hours of business would be 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, plus delivery trucks unloading and parked with diesel motors running all night, every night. (I know you wouldn’t want this in your back yard.)

Now let’s talk about the local stores this would clearly affect. Everyone that sells similar products would be in jeopardy of losing their livelihood. We all know that small business offers better personal service anyway, and they might just learn your names while you spend your hard earned money in their stores.

Small business owners live and work and spend their money back into the community. Home Depot, on the other hand, will not. If this store is built, it’s only the beginning of all the other box stores, and your small-town charm will be gone forever.

I encourage everyone to help The Millville Town Council to reevaluate their position on this matter at the next town meeting, Sept. 12, at the town hall on Route 26.

It’s not for the better of the community. It’s just plain wrong.

Bruce Sheppard
Townsend Acres

Reader believes IRSD lawsuit is frivelous

News this week is that Judge Farnan has removed the ban on public release of charges in the Indian River lawsuit pressed by the Dobrich family, another family not named, and the ACLU against the School Board there.

The sum of the charges alleged by the ACLU for the Dobrich family et al who are Jewish, seem to be anti-Christianism. Their demand for settlement not only includes a six-figure dollar payment but special rights for children of the second unnamed family to enter an art school ahead of others registered before them, which is a request for special consideration — exactly the type of offense they allege the board is guilty of.

Also, the Dobriches openly demonstrate their religion while suing to prevent others from demonstrating theirs. The other unnamed family says it is afraid of retaliation if their name is known, a backhand and unjustified slur on the tolerance of others. There is no known record of retaliation against either family even at this late date.

The lawsuit centers around the mention of the name of Jesus Christ during a prayer of blessing a minister placed on a high school graduating class. The plaintiffs allege that it offended them. Isn’t it the reaction of a normally tolerant person to accept with understanding something offered in a spirit of love and caring, even if one does not agree with it entirely? Do you sue your hostess if she lovingly offers you a piece of chocolate cake and you do not agree with chocolate?

The fact is that no one forced anyone to listen to the prayer, and no one intended to offend anyone — yet they translated the blessing into an offense.

Actually, the offense seems to be religious discrimination by Mrs. Dobrich, who openly states that her son is sent to public school each day wearing a yarmulke cap, which is only required in synagogue, yet no one asked her son to remove it even though it is a loud and clear proclamation of Jewish faith. No Christian kid is allowed to wear a hat in class. Yet no one requested her son to remove his religious cap. That level of tolerance was not returned by Mrs. Dobrich or the other secret family.

Respect and tolerance for others is an American trait they are ignoring in this lawsuit. To expect and demand respect and tolerance for themselves but to want to refuse it to a Christian source — isn’t that openly discriminatory? If anti-Semitism is an offense then certainly anti-Christianism to the majority of Americans is also an offense. Tolerance is a two-way street.

Further, the very war on terror should demonstrate to the plaintiffs that America is a predominately Christian nation openly and strongly supporting Israel against the world of terrorists. Their Christian religious convictions defend the Jewish religion. It is very strange that the return effect as demonstrated by the Indian River lawsuit is to denigrate and deny the very religious faith that upholds the Jewish religion.

Isn’t that a form of gross ingratitude? To attack those who defend your beliefs and to ask for money to assuage that alleged offense, while demanding special considerations, is highly questionable. It is, however, the kind of case that the ACLU, whose record of attack on the Christian religion is a matter of record, uses to promote its agenda of legal attempts, through intimidation and fear, to remove all references to religious tolerance in America.

The Indian River lawsuit appears to be an open offense to all Americans as an example of disrespect and intolerance of the religion of others, and a direct offense against the Constitution and the Bill of Rights — a denial of the very foundations of our nation.

It is admirable and proper for the Indian River School Board to stand firmly for those rights to defend the best interests of all Americans.

Charles N. Valenti
Rehoboth Beach

Lions Club thankful for help and support

The members of the Lord Baltimore Lions Club wish to thank the residents of the community and visitors who attended our fried chicken dinner of Saturday, Aug. 12, at the Millville Fire Hall.

Over 1,027 people attended and supported this Lions Club fund-raiser.

All monies raised thru this effort is returned to our community, district and international projects, such as programs for the visually impaired, scholarships for our local high school students, loans of medical equipment free of charge, support of local Girl and Boy Scout troops, senior citizens, eye examination and screening for students in our elementary schools and many more. None of this money is used for our administrative obligations.

We also thank the Millville Fire Company for their continued support and cooperation. They, like us, are all volunteers and we appreciate their efforts and friendship.

Again, thank you all.

Bill Scott, Chairman
Fried Chicken Dinner Committee
Lord Baltimore Lions Club

Height controversy is unsound — council fine

For weeks I’ve been reading about the controversy of raising the building height limit in Bethany. There have been numerous letters to the editor, petitions for a public referendum, even a call to vote out existing council members.

Then I received a newsletter from the Town of Bethany Beach. The diagram on the last page said it all. If you raise the building height three feet, and lower the point from which a building’s height is measured three feet, guess what, the building will be the same height. And, the increased roof pitch will help prevent future construction of the “big-box houses” that are not as aesthetically pleasing and more susceptible to wind damage.

The current town council has served us well. Our town finances are in great shape, we have a new bandstand and boardwalk entrance, and our town looks beautiful with the added flower beds. Drainage problems have been worked on consistently each year. The council is soliciting input on a downtown redevelopment plan and the best use of the Church/Neff property.

Our council members represent us all. They are not one- or two-issue candidates who will soon lose interest when their pet issues have faded away. Let’s keep those who have done so much for all of us. I urge you to re-elect council members Kilmer, Dorfman, McClenny and Steele.

G. Rantz
Bethany Beach

Reader believes McClenny is the choice

As election time is rapidly approaching, I would like to express my support for the re-election of Tony McClenny. Tony has worked tirelessly as a member of Council to address both past and future issues and problems Bethany Beach residents face.

Bethany Beach must endure its small, hometown family-oriented atmosphere if it is to remain the desirable place to live it currently enjoys. Tony has the foresight to vigorously solicit Congress for our beach replenishment funding. Without our beautiful beaches, the town will surely die.

Since becoming owners in 1999, we have experienced many positive changes. Tony, along with present Council members, has been committed to upgrading and improving the community landscaping, along with the construction of a town square and new bandstand. The landscaping and beautiful flowers have created a showplace of our town. This Council has also diligently created design guidelines and a revival committee for the commercial districts.

Tony certainly continues to work at Council as a full-time commitment. He has accomplished acquiring his certification for Public Administration at the University of Delaware, and can always be counted on to attend the Planning Commission and committee meetings. He’s a great networker and goes out of his way to attend county meetings to meet and stay in touch with officials from other areas.

From a personal standpoint, I want to see the unrestricted construction throughout Sussex County put to a stop. Our property values have certainly skyrocketed in the last several years. If building continues at the rapid rate it is currently going, I believe we will see our properties devalued and even worse, the value of living in a small-town atmosphere gone forever. Bethany Beach could become another Ocean City, Md. – nice place to visit, but wouldn’t want to live there.

Linda Smith
Bethany Beach

Vote for Tony McClenny, a man with integrity

Tony McClenny is intelligent, thoughtful, and thorough in researching all issues on which he votes.

Tony works diligently and quietly, donating numerous hours of time and energy to serve the community in which he lives. As Secretatry/Treasurer for the Town and Chairperson of the budget and Finance Committee, he is an honest and conscientious steward of “our” money. Briefly put, he is one of the best persons ever elected to serve as a Bethany Beach Council Member.

Benefit Bethany. Vote Tony McClenny.

Norma Kropp
Bethany Beach