Cape Gazette
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Tuesday Editorial

New year a time for reflection

Dec 31, 2013

As a new year dawns, we reach that time for resolutions. Those who decide to get more exercise are in luck: Work on the trail from Gor­dons Pond to Herring Point is well underway and already offers ready access to the serenity of marshlands, ponds and woods.

It’s a path that can be seen as a symbol of a growing tension in our region.

Does making our marshland and forest so accessible endan­ger this fragile ecosystem? Or does allowing people to enjoy the winding waterways, broad vistas and tall pines from a defined path help us protect it?

As more projects come before Sussex County Council, the same issues arise.

Are we headed for a day when Sussex is dominated by suburban subdivisions? Or can we find a way to develop while protecting not only coastal beaches, but also rich marshes, forest and farmland that for now still beckon both residents and visitors?

Council might start the year by taking a stroll along the trail before it’s finished, before politicians arrive and television cameras roll.

Perhaps a quiet walk would offer a calm in which council members can resolve to find compromises that acknowledge the growing frustration of eastern Sussex residents with­out trampling the rights of property owners.

Walking along the path, perhaps they will recall that during the years of the most rapid growth and development, and also through the leanest years of the recession, Sussex County had a land-use planner.

If council became especially thoughtful, it might also recall Sussex County has the least restrictive zoning on the Delmarva Peninsula, yet is the only county that has no certified planning pro­fessional.

Planning does not mean stifling growth. It does not mean paving every farm in sight. It means someone is responsible to examine the overall impact of projects from a public perspective and present the pros and cons to council.

Just as the path through the woods demonstrates, it’s possible to find common ground, a path forward that allows public use of precious terrain without destroying the natural beauty people came here to enjoy.

 

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