Letters to the Editor — Oct. 27, 2017

Date Published: 
Oct. 27, 2017

Reader takes issue with county


It has been said that one death is a tragedy, while a thousand deaths is a statistic. Here in Sussex County, the absence of a traffic light is a tragedy; the multitude of county-approved building permits is a statistic. In 2016, Sussex County issued 2,798 building permits, compared to 1,730 in New Castle and 1,276 in Kent. A traffic light can be solved; the choke-hold of congestion on our infrastructure cannot.

Sussex County’s population has exploded by 23,000 residents between 2010 and 2016, with perhaps another 5,000 in 2017. The next time you are sitting in your car at the intersection of Route 24 and U.S. 1, look around and note 10 people. The day before, these 10 people were not there; the day after, there will be 20 additional.

The addition of 10 new residents every day in Sussex County has occurred for 2,190 consecutive days, rain or shine, without fail. But wait, there’s more! While this growth rate of 10 people a day is over a six-year period, newer data estimates suggest Sussex County has added 14 residents each day for the last few years.

The term “resident” is descriptive: it does not include owners of second homes, tourists, guests or transient visitors of any ilk or kind. Yes, full-time, 365-days-a-year residents who can vote in Sussex County, be educated in Sussex County schools, drive on Sussex County roads, request fire and police protection, avail of water and sewer resources, and crab, fish and boat in its waterways.

How do we know this? The United States Bureau of the Census tells us so. Regrettably, our local and state representatives, while aware of this seismic residential growth, ignore its present-day effects on Sussex County quality of life.

In the bowels of power of Sussex County, no doubt there will be tired and trite protests (“taradiddle, balderdash or poppycock”), such as: these numbers are misleading, they mix in tourists, they are second-home owners, they are all retirees, etc. According to the U.S. Census, these groups are filtered.

The reality of 2017 renders fictional the idea that Sussex County growth has been mostly retirees who will put little strain on infrastructure or second-home owners who are not here most of the year.

New residents have arrived with remodeled lifestyles planners failed to predict. Retirees have custody of grandchildren who must be educated. Second-home owners have made use of “work-from-home” policies allowing families to be raised here, or such owners, with the power of the internet, run businesses from here.

The draft Comprehensive Plan for Sussex County, projecting out 27 years, is a great disappointment for several reasons. Sadly, it does not recognize the primacy of Sussex County authority which derives from the consent of its residents. The plan lumps residents in with developers, builders, business owners and agricultural interests as equal partners whose needs must be served for the next 27 years. The plan also fails to discuss with specificity the magnitude of the present-day increase in full-time residents and its effect on existing infrastructure.

It seems logical for a plan to understand how it got “here” before it charts a course to getting “there.” Sussex County fails to understand the difference between “getting paid to go to work” and “getting paid to petition the County.” The former is the reality of life for a resident, while the latter is the reality of life for a developer’s attorney. Who do you think shows up for a 9 a.m. meeting in Georgetown, and who do County officials think they represent at these meetings?

Sussex County should survey county residents regarding how they came to settle here and what they want from their government, review school enrollment data to determine the extent of grandparental custody, review business license data to determine growth of internet businesses, review business gross sales receipts from October to May, and review sewage treatment data from public and private sources for October to May.

No need to survey developers, builders, business owners or agricultural interests, as they have already, and capably, let Sussex County government know of their needs and desires.

Despite the current residential situation in Sussex County, the “here” and the “there” continue to confound our government. Construction of a new residential/commercial development on Route 54 brought out over 250 residents to complain of its impact on existing roadways. And a recent hearing was held regarding additional residential development 1 mile west of Route 54 and Route 20.

With existing infrastructure shortcomings, there should be no debate on how to balance resident needs concerning the reality of life “here” today with what developers want on Route 54 for “there.”

Sussex County: either place a moratorium on building permits until infrastructure can be put in place to handle current population density or require a permit applicant to prove with specificity how, if granted, the building will have “zero” effect on existing infrastructure for residents of Earth who live here now.

Earth to Mars: Message received?

James Angus


Reader: Veterans Treatment Court a win


Thanks to your reporter Maria Counts for the excellent comprehensive article on the Sussex County Veterans Treatment Court Program, in the Oct. 20 issue of Coastal Point.

As explained in the interviews in the article, this is a transformational, even life-saving, program for veterans who are selected to participate. When a veteran facing criminal charges is selected for voluntary participation, it’s a tremendous opportunity for the individual for a clean record and better life. When a veteran “graduates,” as most do, after months of conscientious efforts, it’s a wonderful outcome for all involved.

From the article, you can readily see the benefits to the veterans who successfully complete the program, and easily imagine the far-reaching benefits to their families and communities.

As also explained in a number of interviews, volunteer mentors, who are assigned to help participants on a one-to-one basis, play an important role in the success of the program. The mentors interviewed, who are all veterans themselves, made it clear why. They provide meaningful personal encouragement and support to participants along the way in the process. Veterans helping veterans.

You have to appreciate the value of that. As indicated, with the success and growth of the program, there is a need for additional volunteers.

So, thanks again to Maria Counts and Coastal Point for the excellent reporting on the remarkable work of the Veterans Treatment Court and covering the need for additional volunteers to serve as mentors. As noted, Bill Gay, the mentor coordinator, can be reached by email at billgsussexvetcourt@gmail.com for more information.

Incidentally, if readers want to hear more about the treatment program, Superior Court Judge Richard Stokes, who presides over the Veterans Court in Georgetown, is scheduled to be the guest speaker on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at VFW Post 7234 in Ocean View. The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. The post is located at 29265 Marshy Hope Way, Ocean View. As always on this occasion, the public is invited and welcome to attend.

Jerry Hardiman

Bethany Beach

Reader warns of corruption in D.C.


On Thursday night, Oct 19, the Republican-controlled Senate passed a budget measure that cuts Medicaid by $1 trillion and Medicare by $500 billion, so that millionaires and corporations can get a tax cut.

Like the walking dead, trickle-down economic theory keeps raising its head and slouching forward, even though it’s been thoroughly discredited by the inequality and immiseration that results each time it’s implemented.

What trickles down is austerity for the many, while the obscene wealth of those at the very top of the economic scale grows exponentially. Some of this obscene wealth gets distributed to the politicians, who then show their fealty to their big-money sponsors with votes like the one on Thursday night.

The vote was on a budget resolution that is non-binding, but it opens the door to begin a reconciliation process with Republicans in the House, which means the GOP can go for a tax bill without a single Democratic vote.

As Sen. Jeff Merkley said, “In what world does it make sense to rob trillions from the national treasury, all to grant a massive windfall to the very richest individuals?”

And, as Lord Acton famously wrote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Michael Lawton

Ocean View

Women’s Club grateful for support


The Lord Baltimore Women’s Club would like to thank the following restaurants that donated gift certificates for our fashion show and dine around basket on Oct. 4; our club made another record amount: Al Casapulla’s Subs, Steaks & Pizza; Mango’s Bethany Beach; Armand’s Pizza By the Sea; McCabe’s Gourmet Market; Baja Beach House Grill; McDonald’s; Bethany Blues; Mill Pond Family Restaurant; Bethany Diner; Ocean View Family Restaurant; Bethany Boathouse; Perrucci’s Classic Italian; Big Fish Grill; Blue Water Grill; Porto Pizza & Grill; Rosenfeld’s Jewish Deli; The Cafe on 26; Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse; Capriotti’s; The Salted Rim; Cottage Café; Sedona; Cripple Creek Golf & Country Club; SoDel Concepts Restaurants; DiFebo’s; Summer Salts Café; Fin’s Ale House; Touch of Italy; Frankford Family Diner; Turtle Beach Café; Just Hooked/Off the Hook; Yellowfins Bar & Grill; Hooked Up/Hooked; Zahav, Philadelphia.

Please support these local businesses who kindly donated to our event by patronizing them whenever you can: All About You Salon, Beachview Health Associates, Bethany Beach Books, Bethany Florist, Bethany Massage & Healing Arts, Bethany Sea Crest, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Blooming Boutique, Blossoms Florist, Carolina Street, Clayton Theater, Clear Space Theater, CLM Enterprises Inc., Crazy Ladyz, Creative Concepts, CVS, Eastern Shore Makeup, Ellen Egan Chun Designs, Ellen Rice Gallery, Fenwick Float-Ors, Food Lion, Friends Of LBWC, Gallery One, Giant Foods, Harris Teeter, Harry & David, Hocker’s, Hudson’s General Store, Jayne’s Reliable, Lady Fenwick, LBWC members, Made By Hand, Maxim’s Hair & Nails, Oceanova Spa, Patti’s Hallmark, Paws & Claws, Pin-Up Girls Salon, Possum Point Players, Remember When, Rooster’s Nest, Salted Vines Winery, Sea Levels Designs, Seaquels Furniture Consignment, Somerhouse, Southern Exposure, Sweet Disposition, Sweet Stems Florist, The Flutterby House/Calico Tree, The Spice & Tea Exchange, The Toy Corner, Treasure Island, Trendz Salon, Walgreens, Weis Market, West Fenwick Car Wash, All About Birds, World Gym, Zen Spa.

Thank you, one and all, for everything you did, no matter how small or large your part in making the 2017 fashion show the huge success it was.

Barbara Sunderlin, President

Lord Baltimore Women’s Club

Reader asks if POTUS is a baby Christian


I’m confused. In April of 2016, Dr. James Dobson, a prominent evangelical leader, referred to Donald Trump as a “baby Christian.” He made this statement during the final throes of the presidential campaign, when many conservative evangelical Christians decided to get behind the presumptive Republican nominee.

These same evangelicals, Trump’s hardcore base today, wanted to believe that Trump would come to personify everything that is good and great about Christianity. But they have a problem they can’t explain away. They’ve compromised their values for a compromised human being. And we’re all suffering for it.

Only with convoluted logic can a thoughtful person use Christianity and Trump in the same sentence. Has President Trump even attempted to embrace the teachings of or emulate Jesus Christ, which should be the goal of all genuine Christians?

Let’s conduct an experiment or sorts. Let’s do a short “Christian IQ” test, a kind of litmus test to determine whether you believe President Trump passes the Christian quiz. There’s no clock, take all the time you need. The only thing I ask is that you answer honestly. And there’s no right or wrong answer. Here we go.

Would a devout Christian:

• Ridicule a Gold Star family, as he did during the campaign, simply because they’re Muslims?

• Complain, as Trump did during a recent press conference, about how “hard” it is for him to call the families of fallen soldiers? (Yet Trump hasn’t bothered to visit Dover AFB when the coffins are returned to U.S. soil or visit Area 60 at Arlington Cemetery.)

• Brag about being able to grab a woman’s crotch whenever he feels like it? (Many Christians seem to accept his conduct as long he’s not referring to a female member in their family.)

• Ridicule a disabled person merely because he’s a journalist?

• Refuse to condemn the KKK and white supremacists after Charlottesville, where a young woman was murdered? You recall Trump even referred to some of the KKK as “very fine people?”

• Ridicule a true American war hero and patriot, John McCain, because his plane was shot down? He stated: “I like people who weren’t shot down.”(Trump received five deferments. Most people call that draft-dodging.)

• Offer a bigoted response to the disaster in Puerto Rico. Trump stated: “They want everything done for them,” and “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack.” Did Trump use this sort of language after the disasters in Texas and Florida? (No. Maybe it’s because Puerto Ricans are not really “Americans.”)

• Exhort crowds at campaign rallies to viciously attack peaceful protesters because their politics differed? (And offered to pay their legal costs for the perpetrators.)

• Call Jeff Sessions an “idiot” and demean him in front of others?

• Objectify women?

I could go on, but you get the picture. Of course, a “real” Christian wouldn’t do any of the things posed in the quiz, but President Trump is guilty of each and every one of them. Trump is the antithesis of everything Jesus Christ said in the Sermon of the Mount. And one has only to look to Matthew and the Beatitudes to know that President Trump embodies none of those moral imperatives.

Yet many of my Christian friends found it in their heart to vote for Donald J. Trump and continue to support him. Values voters cannot have it both ways. You cannot keep a straight face and call yourself a big “C” Christian while you steadfastly support a person who behaves like a juvenile and eschews essential Christian dogma: honesty, humility, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, morality... Trump possesses none of these qualities. Worse — he openly scoffs at many of these basic tenets.

The religious right has sold out. They’ve made a Faustian bargain. What I really find fascinating is how effortless it was for Christians to park their values outside the voting booth when they knew exactly who and what they were voting for last autumn. The hypocrisy is absolutely stunning.

Dr. Dobson, Donald Trump is not a “baby Christian,” he’s just a baby!

Charles Oppman


Resident weighs in on BOA review

Editor’s note: The following letter refers to two special-use exception requests before the Sussex County Board of Adjustments, both from Oakwood Homes and both regarding manufactured homes already placed on lots where County code does not allow them. For background, see stories in our Oct. 6 and 20 issues.


By way of introduction and full disclosure, I am a homeowner in Irons Acres, owning the house directly across the street from the lot on which the manufactured home was placed by Oakwood.

My wife and I have joined many of our neighbors at the last two BOA meetings at which the board has been unable to decide whether to grant the special-use exception request. I am very grateful for the coverage you have provided in the last two issues of the Coastal Point and hope you will continue to follow the story to its conclusion.

At the Oct. 16 meeting, we all listened closely as the board members stated their positions. I accept that it is difficult deciding who should shoulder the financial hardship for the County’s permitting error and Oakwood’s subsequent ignorance of the notification that the County had put a hold on the permit pending a BOA review.

However, of all the statements made at the two meetings, the one I cannot accept and which, frankly, I found shocking, was one made by Mr. Brent Workman. He stated that he based his support for granting the exception partly on the fact that the citizens of Sussex County cannot expect the individuals tasked with approving or denying permits to be in command of all the regulations and restrictions governing whether or not permits should be approved.

In essence, he is indemnifying the permitting department from any mistakes made in the performance of their duties, because they cannot be expected to know the rules on which to base their decisions.

I strongly disagree with Mr. Workman’s opinion on this matter. His viewpoint leaves the homeowners of Irons Acres and every other neighborhood in the County at the mercy of developers and homebuilders like Oakwood, giving them cover in their attempts to put any structure on any lot in any development, with no regard to the adverse effect on neighboring properties.

The citizens of Sussex County have every reason to expect those granting permits to builders or developers to be knowledgeable of County regulations and restrictions, and properly grant or deny the applications which they review.

Kurt Schaab