Cape Gazette

Letters to the Editor

Feb 03, 2012

Rehoboth should rethink reassessment

I am writing this letter to echo the sentiments of Robert Streimer in last week’s paper.
Robert makes a number of excellent points. He questions if properties can be appraised for $40 each. I wonder this as well. If so, I wonder what company provided the quote and if it was formally put out to bid. This project if agreed to will cost the taxpayers of downtown RB $130,000 or 1 percent of the current proposed budget. With a budget that is slightly up from last year, the subtraction of $130,000 would have actually lowered this year’s taxes. I am not in favor of spending money for the sake of spending money.

Perhaps there are better uses for $130,000.

In addition, he questions why this project would be undertaken in the midst of this current housing market. This is another excellent question!

I have never seen a reassessment done without the ultimate goal of increasing taxes. Taxes may not go up right away, but I feel that this might be the first step toward that goal. I am not against increases in taxes where necessary, but do not believe in spending money for the sake of spending it.

I am also deeply troubled by a local government that has no overall game plan to its actions. If the current mayor wakes up in the morning and decides it is time to reassess, then his fellow commissioners go along. Why now? It took a year to sort out the patio fiasco, so why try to push this through so quickly without public feedback?

Lastly, I ask the mayor and commissioners to communicate this important topic to their constituents and gather some feedback from the two-thirds of property owners who do not reside in downtown Rehoboth Beach year round. Utilize the city’s communication committee! If property owners do not read the local paper, how do they know about the important things that local government is doing that will impact them in the future?

Separate mailings have been done for recycling; I suggest a special mailing.
Thomas McGlone
Rehoboth Beach

Lewes wind turbine a wonderful thing

There are few things which make me more upset than the potential destruction of my beloved home of Lewes. The federal lawsuit against the University of Delaware wind turbine, set forth by Lewes resident Jerry Lechliter is, in my opinion, a local microcosm in the bitter fight against sustainable, clean energy.  While I currently reside in Philadelphia, when I do get the opportunity to venture home, I'm often drawn to the base of the turbine, not only to bask in the marvel that is the ecology of the Great Marsh, but to also admire the true splendor that is one of our society's last bastions toward clean energy.

To gaze skyward at the base of the turbine is enough to bring a tear to my eye, both in its profound size, and profound beauty, but also in the knowledge that we live in a progressive enough town to allow such a wonderful piece of technology to exist.

In the suit, Mr. Lechliter compares the noise of the turbine to that of a jet engine, and claims that its presence detracts from the value of his property, a clear falsity to anybody who has come into proximity to the truly majestic turbine. In fact, I would closer liken the sound generated to a healthy sea breeze, a phenomenon few of us are unfamiliar with living in the Cape Region. The difference, however, is that this breeze is of true, clean, sustainable energy. I for one am fiercely proud of this fantastic addition to the Lewes community, and will defend this to my dying day.

I grew up in Lewes during my formative years, and like many others who felt 'trapped' in our small town throughout high school, found my way out to make my own way. Like many of us, however, I have found peace with my community, and have come to truly appreciate and love my hometown for better or worse, to come and appreciate its rare beauty, and in fact, if nothing else, I feel proud to have called Lewes my home for my entire life, especially with the so-called progressive addition of the wind turbine.

Mr. Lechliter, I implore you to rethink your statements. Regardless of how the turbine came to being, or whatever personal vendettas you have against it, there is no doubt that it is a special addition to our community, and that speaks to the progressive mind-set of most in-town Lewes residents. As a coastal community literally on the front lines of the threat of global warming, climate change, and sea-level rise, would you be better satisfied with a coal-fired power plant?

Coal literally comprises the top 10 national polluters. In fact a clear example of this is the nearby Indian River power plant, which has a profound effect on the ecology of both the Indian River and Assawoman Bay. If you honestly believe that the view of the turbine detracts from your property value, perhaps you are the kind of person who will never appreciate the true beauty that our wonderful little town offers.

Perhaps you should consider a move to West Virginia, Kentucky, or even southeastern Pennsylvania, where the sound of mountaintop removal, hydraulic fracking, and oil refining might better suit your lifestyle.

All of this said, I am truly scared for the future of coastal Delaware with the myriad of threats both ecological and man-made. I truly believe that the addition of the wind turbine is nothing but a wonderful thing in terms of ecology and sustainability, and I am saddened that there are those who believe otherwise.

I love my home, and always will. To see it destroyed would be a heartbreak I could never recover from.
Lauren M. O'Neil

Rehoboth reassessment: The sooner the better

In writing this letter, I’m sure I am putting myself in a very distinct minority of citizens who actually supports the idea of reassessing properties in the City of Rehoboth Beach.

In making the case for reassessment, I would argue almost exactly the opposite of Robert Streimer in his letter in the Jan. 27 Gazette.  

First, it should be understood that a property value reassessment is not an automatic tax increase.  The commissioners set the property tax rate each year in public session, so it is reasonable to think they would account for any increase in property values and reduce the tax rate accordingly. Mr. Streimer mentions the number of homes he can see from his property and the fact that each has a “story” (a grandfather, an exception, a variance).  He implies that these special situations need to be factored into the property assessment.

Maybe they do, maybe they don’t.  Mr. Streimer suggests that commissioners should take a lesson from the furor that erupted over the botched noise enforcement effort a year or so ago because many of those businesses had grandfathered status on their properties which the city had failed to keep track of.  He argues that the same uproar will result from property reassessments because of all of the special situations.

He might be right, but that is not a legitimate reason not to reassess properties. The lesson the city learned from the noise enforcement matter, as evidenced by their changing the patio ordinance, was to equalize the rules for everyone and to get rid of grandfather provisions. That lesson applies more broadly to many situations in the city.

The fact that so many grandfathers, exceptions, and variances exist, I believe, is one of the big reasons many people believe there is a double standard in this town.  Years back we went through a very acrimonious period when the FAR reduction was approved.  Yet, today I see houses being built all around town that certainly appear to exceed the FAR or do not meet setback requirements.  I wonder how this happens.

I have personally witnessed the board of adjustment use a line of argument to oppose a variance request, then turn around and use exactly the same logic to approve a different request.  It is things like this that foster a perception of preferential treatment and undermine people’s trust in their government.  If the reassessment process serves to bring the light of day onto some of these situations, I say that’s probably a good thing.

I am a property and business owner in the city, so I know I am talking about increasing my own tax base, but I think a reassessment is long overdue. The fact that it hasn’t been done since 1969 almost amounts to a dereliction of duty by our elected officials.  I think property valuations in this town are absurdly low.  I don’t understand why it should be difficult or particularly expensive to get an up-to-date valuation of properties.

What better indicator of property values than the real estate sales market itself?  It seems to me the value of a property is what a buyer is willing to pay for it.  Even in today’s depressed real estate market, property values in Rehoboth have held their ground.  The humblest modular home on a standard 50-by-100-foot lot commands a minimum price of $500,000 or more.  Why are these properties still taxed at their 1969 value?  The rationale that it is too expensive to do is weak and is probably responsible for why much of the city’s infrastructure is in need of major improvement.

I am tired of listening to the discussions at the commissioners’ meetings that we’re waiting on this or that grant from somebody before we can do a project.  Just the other day the city manager was describing how a street project to fix drainage issues on Lake Avenue has been talked about for 15 years, but never moved forward because there was no grant money for it.  Always looking for “free” money (like the Chinese aren’t funding our entire country’s debt) so we don’t have to take it out of our own pockets.

This town is certainly affluent enough to raise the money it needs to pay for its priority needs.  A good first step in that direction is a reassessment of property value that reflects today’s reality.  The sooner, the better.
Richard Kirchhoff
Rehoboth Beach

Legislators oppose DelDOT proposal

The Delaware Department of Transportation will hold a public workshop regarding alterations being proposed for two intersections on U.S. 113, south of Georgetown.

We believe the proposed project at Almshouse Road/Speedway Road, and the intersection just to the south at Wood Branch Road/Kruger Road, would produce more hazardous conditions than those which currently exist in this area.

While well-intentioned, we believe the travel restrictions imposed by the intersection changes will have unintended consequences on traffic flow that will actually increase the possibility of traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities. We have both repeatedly expressed these concerns to DelDOT and now urge motorists who could potentially be impacted by this work to voice their opinions as well.

The workshop will be held Monday, Feb. 13, at the DelDOT South District Administration Building located at 23697 DuPont Blvd., Georgetown. Participants can stop by anytime between 4 and 7 p.m. If you cannot make it, written comments can mailed to: DelDOT Public Relations, P.O. Box 778, Dover, DE 19903. For further information, call 1-800-652-5600.

On a more welcome note, we're both pleased that two local traffic improvements that we have advocated are expected to be implemented sometime this spring.

The high-accident intersection at Delaware 30 and Zoar Road will be changed from a two-way stop to a four-way stop. This change should significantly reduce mishaps currently caused by confusion over whether the intersecting traffic is required to stop.  The second project will install traffic signals at Arrow Safety Road and U.S. 113. This intersection, just north of Sussex Correctional Institution, is another high-accident area where traffic volume warrants this safety improvement
State Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown
State Sen. Joe Booth, R-Georgetown

Points in Anderson ad misleading

I have read most of Daniel Anderson's previous paid advertisements and I have had various reactions to the contents of those advertisements, ranging from amusement to disregard to complete indifference. This time (Cape Gazette, Jan. 27), I noticed that Mr. Anderson mentioned "they believe we should reduce CO2 as a pollutant. CO2 is actually a natural occurring gas necessary for life on earth."

This sentence epitomizes the kind of talking points fed to and repeated by political bigots around the country.

I believe this sentence was first uttered and then repeated over and over by failed presidential hopeful and Tea Party banner holder Michelle Bachmann. It was then defended on Hannity by uberconservative (but fair and balanced) Sean Hannity.
The problem with this sentence is that while factually true, it is extremely misleading.

To paraphrase another soon-to-be failed presidential hopeful, it is "pious baloney."

Yes Mr. Anderson, I know that CO2 is naturally occurring and necessary because it is the inorganic carbon source for organic energy creation, a process called photosynthesis.  I also know that this process requires ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet radiation is necessary for life ("good"). Excess ultraviolet radiation (brought about by holes in the ozone layers) causes cancer ("bad"). Now just tell me where such radiation lies in your good-bad continuum. Would I be disingenuous if I said that more UV radiation is not a big deal because UV radiation is necessary?
Erik Stancofski

Prime Hook: Actions speak louder than words

There is nothing good to say about the Jan. 20 meeting concerning the breaches at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge except that the government is letting the good people of that area down! Over 200 people attended the meeting held by Sen. Gary Simpson and Rep. Harvey Kenton to further inform the people. The meeting was attended heavily by dignitaries and/or their representatives. The crux of the problem was conveniently laid in the hands of fish and wildlife folks - aka management of Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

The breaches are on federal land and therefore a federal problem, supposedly leaving all our elected and appointed Delaware politicians not foremost responsible or accountable - essentially holding them and our governor hostage. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

The meeting consisted mostly of the manager and employees of the refuge giving a boring in-depth scientific analysis of the workings of the marsh. With biased statistics to back up their point of view - which is basically to do nothing, as fixing the breaches would not be permanent. Is anything done along the coast? Are the replenishment projects along Dewey and Rehoboth beaches?

A bunch of irrelevant data to anyone who's living with this nightmare of the unrepaired breaches and has to worry daily about their homes and welfare. We wanted to know - what are you going to do to fix the problem? And now we know that could have been summed up in seconds - nothing anytime soon!  "You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today." Abraham Lincoln

It's unconscionable that proceeding forward now hinges on completion of the refuge's comprehensive land use plan which has been in the works since 2005. It's taking approximately seven-plus years to draft something that will only have a 15-year life when completed. But that's standard with the government - something like the studies on a problem costing more than what the initial cost of fixing the problem would be.

If the refuge being federal land is the problem in moving forward in a timely manner, then why not dissolve the refuge, make it state land and fix the breaches? It certainly can't be any worse than what the government has done with the private land they took and made federal - which has basically been destroying it - mostly by neglect and mismanagement, and yes some by Mother Nature! Choices do exist! Other viable alternatives are available. The present plan of action is a cop-out plain and simple!

Actions do speak louder than words! And we are certainly getting no worthwhile action, respect, justice or productive representation!

"Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under." - H.L. Mencken.

I can't imagine that anyone who is affected by the breaches or cares about the area and what is happening left the meeting feeling better, confident or supported by our government!

"It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs." - Albert Einstein.
Amy J.R. Parker
Slaughter Beach

Don't misinterpret my message

On January 20, there was a letter sent in to the Cape Gazette from a Mary Lou Kortan of Lewes. Here is my response to what she wrote.

According to the Legal Information Institute, The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. Freedom of expression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief.

The Supreme Court interprets the extent of the protection afforded to these rights. The First Amendment has been interpreted by the courts as applying to the entire federal government even though it is only expressly applicable to Congress. Furthermore, the courts have interpreted, the due process clause of the 14th Amendment as protecting the rights in the First Amendment from interference by state government.

I am free to write whatever I wish as long as it is not harming anyone. Mrs. Kortan, to you the question is, “Why did you take it personally?” You say you’re a Christian! I am not trashing Fox News; before I wrote the article I did my research. According to the Huffington Post (Associated Press), “This morning on Fox and Friends, Fox host Glenn Beck accused President Obama of being 'a racist.' The group was discussing the recent Gates controversy and Beck exclaimed that Obama has "over and over again" exposed himself as "a guy who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture. I don't know what it is..."

When Fox's Brian Kilmeadeon pointed out that many people in Obama's administration are white, so "you can't say he doesn't like white people," Beck pressed on. "I'm not saying he doesn't like white people, I'm saying he has a problem," Beck said. "This guy is, I believe, a racist."

So, is this factual or what, Mrs. Kortan? Here is the website: Do your research! What about this! Check out on the CNN website: "Conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck apologized Friday after appearing to mock President Barack Obama’s 11-year-old daughter on his radio program earlier in the day.

In a statement posted on his website Friday afternoon, Beck said he broke his own rule about “leaving kids out of political debates.” “In discussing how President Obama uses children to shield himself from criticism, I broke my own rule about leaving kids out of political debates,” said Beck in the statement. “The children of public figures should be left on the sidelines. It was a stupid mistake and I apologize - and as a dad I should have known better.”

Beck’s apology came hours after the radio host and his sidekicks imitated a pretend conversation between the president and Malia, in which Beck has his version of 11-year-old ask a series of questions that included “Daddy…why do you hate black people so much?" Beck’s routine was prompted by a remark Obama made in his press conference Thursday, in which he said Malia had asked him earlier in the morning of the BP oil spill, "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?"

Has any other president been treated this way? What is wrong with our country? I did not say anyone directly was racist. You inferred that! As to you Ms. Kortan, if you do not like what I write you always have a choice not to read it, and if I were you I would watch what I say and how I scream out people’s names because there are legal ramifications.

When I made the comment about churches, I was speaking about African-American churches. I am an advocate in my community for civil rights, so I see the cases that come in. That is what I am referring to! I never said all Americans were racists! I say at times we all have discriminating tendencies, whether it be to homeless people, people on drugs or alcohol, or immigrants. We all at one point in our life have appeared to discriminate, regardless of who we are.

You heard what you wanted to hear! I am so sorry that you misinterpret what was written; shame on you! Thank you and I will continue to write. Don’t attack me! What are you thinking now! Believe me I am well-rounded! You see, some folks don’t understand because they live a life of deception. Have you ever been poor or homeless? I have been around long enough to see many things. I volunteer many places in our community and I see the discrimination every day. Where have you been? I watch the news daily. Thanks for your input!
Alisha Broughton

Silver Lake Rehoboth: A simple solution

I have lived on Silver Lake since the early 1970s and have witnessed much confusion and abuse regarding construction on the land surrounding the lake and intrusions into the lake itself. Many properties have property lines that extend into the lake. In fact there are no less than three different potential property lines, at least two of which are underwater, that owners can claim.

It is essential that the City of Rehoboth pass new laws regarding building rights in order to provide clarity for property owners and for the public good. Thankfully, during the last few years Rehoboth has taken the stance that no building and/or infill can take place beyond Silver Lake’s current shoreline. Past abuses cannot be undone, including, perhaps, the building permit issued to 6 Silver Lane which has caused much consternation. Under any new law, existing buildings and any new buildings legally approved by Rehoboth must be grandfathered.

I propose a simple solution to the City of Rehoboth. The commissioners of Rehoboth should pass a new law which contains two simple elements. First, no new building should be allowed on Silver Lake without a reasonable setback from the existing shoreline - I propose a 20-foot setback. Second, the allowable density of new construction should be based on the amount of land owned which is above water, not the amount of land which is owned both above and below the water line - no Mcmansions. This new law would protect the property owners surrounding Silver Lake and retain the beauty and visual delights of Silver Lake for residents and visitors alike.
Peter Gambrill
Rehoboth Beach

Food 4 Friends appreciates support

Food 4 Friends food bank was the charity of choice for a night of FUNdraising at Rigby’s Bar & Grill, Rehoboth Beach, recently. John Black and John Glenstrup, owners of Rigby’s - along with Juan Rodriguez and his performers known as the Rigby’s Girlz, John Flynn the pianist, and many others I wish to thank here, put an all-out effort to make the evening fun, entertaining and special for our charity. The evening started off with several hours of John Flynn playing jazz and contemporary songs that had the crowd singing along, with Karen Murdock, Michael Cowell and Sean Murray jumping onstage periodically to join in with John.

Door prize raffle tickets were sold and items donated from many wonderful small businesses were given away: Proud Bookstore, Today’s Hair, Critter Beach, Odysea Boutique, Hotel Blue, Kevin Fleming Art, Hobos Restaurant, Luca Ristorante, Hooked on Plants Nursery, Café Azafran, Holly Lane and Shore Jazz, John Flynn, Jacques Snyman and Jim Hunt Artworks.

Rigby’s Bar & Grill donated a percentage of its income from the evening’s proceeds, and then the night was capped off with a 50/50 raffle orchestrated by Bryan Hecksher’s Auto Gallery that was very successful. The room was packed when The Rigby Girlz performed - Miss Rigby’s 2011 - Sierra Spaulding, Kimmie Parker, Tasha Addams, Anyie St. Cartier, Maya-Jhade Addams and Tyra St. Cartier put on a heart beating show that kept everyone clapping, tipping and dancing in their seats!

These funds will be well used: Food 4 Friends Inc. is a nonprofit food bank that feeds and clothes people and families in Sussex County living with HIV and AIDS. These families are mostly employed, but not insured and therefore are struggling with the costs of their needed medications (often $1,400-1,600/per month) and eating nutritionally.

Food 4 Friends food bank is providing them with daily food, toiletries, and household supplies along with donated gently used clothing to ease their monthly expenses so that they can maintain good health and dignity. Food 4 Friends is the only nonprofit which uses 100 percent of the donations for the recipients, their “friends.”

We also wish to thank the many people who were unable to make the event, but provided donations for the event. Our website, www.Food4Friends.US provides more details. Donations are accepted on all days in our Rehoboth Beach drop-off location or one of our volunteers will gladly come to your home to collect. Items of need are listed on the website. As a first charity event for Food 4 Friends, this party was a huge success creating awareness of the need, and displayed the kindness in people’s hearts. The thousands collected will help so much. Thank you so!
Jaime Schneider
Food 4 Friends Inc.

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