Love Creek RV Park editorials questioned
The Cape Gazette’s editorial positions on growth, land use, development, environment and zoning in Sussex County have been overwhelmingly supportive of the public interest. They offer support to common-sense arguments about controlling growth, hiring a county planner and protecting the Inland Bays - among other community-based decisions. So why are these positions inconsistent with the two editorials published regarding the Love Creek RV Resort and Campground?
The first summarized the positions of the developer and local opponents, but the reader had a difficult time figuring out what their point was. It included offsetting comments such as “the RV park fits the tourism industry” and “[whether] the project can be developed in an environmentally sensitive fashion and whether traffic can be managed to avoid creating safety and congestion problems.”
The editors did give Lingo group the benefit of doubt that they build “quality projects” and were meeting the (minimum) standards of DelDOT and DNREC, as well as regurgitated other benefits from Lingo’s testimony.
But it concluded without any final position taken. The more recent editorial was more of the same. The editors left out many of the most serious issues and concerns, choosing to focus on traffic and environment items. Again they coddle Lingo for some trivial concessions to their plan and for “developing quality residential projects.” (By the way – this RV city is not a residential development but a sprawl for recreational vehicles, tents and cabins.)
Sadly, they make an improper statement that Sussex County Council usually follows the planning and zoning recommendations – suggesting that the RV city vote is a done deal. However, the vote has not even been scheduled on the council’s agenda yet! The editors then offer a compromise suggestion to have Lingo build half the development and see how that works before completing the massive project. This amounts to taking no real stand at all.
Curiously, this apathetic position towards the Lingo development is in stark contrast to previous editorial positions taken by the Gazette - and which support many of the general issues raised by the opposition to the Lingo project:
• April 19, 2011 Hire a County Planner: “Sussex County is growing because its natural beauty and unhurried way of life are attractive, particularly when coupled with low taxes. But all of these qualities can quickly be lost to uncontrolled growth.”
• May 22, 2011 End Legal Battle Over Buffers: “If Sussex County doesn’t want DNREC to impose buffers, then county council should step up to the plate and adopt science-recommended buffer and vegetation requirements already in place in the rest of Delaware.”
• May 24, 2011 Time for Sussex to Hire a Land Use Planner: “Land-use planning is perhaps the most critical and controversial function council must accomplish. The cost of a planner is low when compared with legal costs of defending council’s decisions. The time for a planner is now. County council must act quickly to fill this critical position.”
• July 5, 2011 Council’s Reversals Need Better Reasoning: “In this case, council’s decision certainly helps one property owner, but what about the hundreds of manufactured homeowners, whose homes, as the planners stated, will diminish in value as a result of the RV park next door.”
• Sept. 30, 2011 Healthy Inland Bays Important to Sussex County: “Maintaining the positive trend in the bay’s quality needs to remain a high priority with a constant eye on the progress that can be made when wise action is taken.”
• February 22, 2013 Maintaining Sussex in the Midst of Growth: "We need to protect wooded corridors and wetlands that surround the hundreds of streams in Sussex that nurture wildlife that enriches our lives. We need to protect our hedgerows and the quality of our waterways. To do this, we must develop a park mentality toward the whole county. How do we encourage more and more people to visit and live here while not spoiling the park? Even more so, how can we make the park even nicer?"
• April 25, 2013 Improving Economy Demands Improved Infrastructure: "By harnessing the economic strength that comes with development, and using enlightened public funding to link all of these open spaces, the acres of preserved open space could and should be doubled to 200,000 so we and the wildlife and nature we cherish can continue to exist and contribute to our appealing, and we hope sustainable, quality of life.”
• Sept. 24, 2013 Council Must Enact Strong Criteria to Guide Rezoning: “It’s much harder to see how rezoning helps residents and other investors who own surrounding properties. People purchase land in areas zoned residential and surrounded by areas zoned residential because they don’t want the congestion that comes with commercial, business or industrial uses. Many come to Sussex to retire; they are coming to escape traffic jams and noise associated with business areas. Council should leave zoning alone until it enacts strong guidelines for making rezoning decisions that provide security not just for banks, but for everyone who lives and pays taxes in Sussex County.”
• Oct. 29, 2013 Patchwork Rezoning is a Threat to Public Safety: “Zoning is supposed to protect everyone by encouraging orderly growth in areas with enough infrastructure to handle the traffic it brings. If council wants to change the zoning map, it should hire a planner and do it right."
It seems as if the Gazette might have employed all these positions in a strong argument recommending council to vote no on these applications. Why they didn’t, only they can answer. But it would appear that, when it comes to the RV city project, they’re not being true to their values or the community they serve.