Something Good To Write About

GOP  On Monday night I attended a meeting of the Eastern Sussex Republican Club. The club had invited Sussex County Council members, George Cole and Joan Deaver to speak to the club.     I would just like to compliment Tony Matero and his fellow Eastern Sussex Republicans for running a tight and informative meeting. The reports were given in a timely and clear manner.

People were recognized, though a name or two may have been gotten wrong. And during the portion of the meeting given over to the two council members to speak and take questions, the room was respectful, even when some of the questions were pointed. Even Ms. Deaver was treated with respect as a visiting guest and Democrat.

The subject of the talk and the follow-up questions dealt exclusively with land use and development, or as I like to call it, growth.

This of course is no surprise since the Sussex County Council deals almost exclusively  with land use issues, and infrastructure to support the growth in Sussex, such as sewer systems.

I have to say that as a person who considers himself a conservative, and someone who feels property rights are one of our greatest national treasures, I was a bit disappointed with the, shall I say, attitude of the room. One would think that a room full of Republicans would be asking questions about how the county government is working to bring jobs to the county, or how they intend to continue to keep taxes low, while growing the tax base.

Instead the room seemed unanimous in its desire to stunt growth, development and expansion of the county. Most of the questions were about how the county could “STOP” new developments from happening, how the county could “STOP” new shopping centers from opening, how to “STOP” farmers from being able to sell their land when they decided they wanted to.

Of course almost every person who voiced a desire to stop growth couched the idea in the need for roads, and safety, and the fact that the people had little say whether or not a new development or shopping center was to be approved. It is only my opinion, since I took no official polling of the room, but based on the Yankee accents, I would have to say that the majority of those who were opposed to more people moving here, were not born here. So I guess that once they came through the door, they wanted nothing but to close it, to keep others from coming in.

Mr. Cole did a stand-up job trying to explain to the room why the Council sometimes has its hands tied, that if the developers have met all of the requirements, then the Council has no choice but to approve. He also explained that because the county does not build the roads, it is up to the state to ensure that the roads are adequate. Del DOT does this by requiring developers to make improvements to roads in the area of the new development.

Many in the room demonstrated that they had not taken the time to learn the laws of their newly adopted state, when asking questions like, “why doesn’t Del. DOT require developers to make improvements to the roads in the area surrounding the new development?”

Or another asking, “why can’t we get the question of a new development on a referendum ballot?” Well that would be because Delaware doesn’t have referendum. It was obvious that most of the folks were still operating and thinking as if they were still living in the states they had moved here from.

So why is it that people who are a part of the Republican party, are more interested in being able to keep others out, instead of growth? It was pointed out that if growth were to be  stunted, then the county would lose revenue. The transfer tax makes up 30% of the county revenue. When asked directly about how the county would make up the lost revenue, Mr. Cole frankly said, “by raising taxes and fees”.

I just can’t get my mind around the idea of blocking growth and expansion. It seems that Republicans are working more and more to stop growth. There was a group of Republicans who were working to stop the chicken plant in Millsboro. The Republicans on Monday night were vocal in their opposition of the Overbrook Town Center. Do they not see or care that every time they oppose new projects because it is too close to their homes, that they are blocking new jobs, they are hurting vendors and service providers, they hurt the schools by slowing the growth of the tax base.

One other example of what I see as lopsided thinking was their interest in farm preservation. They seem to embrace the idea of the state buying up farmer’s development right, since it would keep developers from being able to buy the land. You could actually hear the joy in some of their voices as they discussed this idea. Do they understand that the state has to first tax the people before the state has the money to pay to the farmers? These people moved here for the lower taxes, and in everything they spoke of on Monday night, they were working to raise taxes on every citizen of the county.

Now the people on the East side of the county may be able to afford the higher taxes, since they would still be lower than where they came from, but the western part of the county is made up of people who were born here primarily, and who could not afford the higher taxes brought about by the loss of growth.

Sussex County is a part of Delaware, and if Sussex were to intentionally stagnate its growth, it would have an effect upon the entire state eventually. This state and this county needs to grow, to survive, and to expand. We need new projects, new businesses, new development and shopping centers. These are the things that would allow and support the infrastructure improvements that the people at the meeting were saying were needed.

Which brings me to the other funny little sideways thoughts  these folks were having. They say we can’t have more development until we improve the roads. I would love to see their faces when and if Del DOT sent them the letter of   annexation of the front of their property to widen roads in their areas. Of course most of them, most likely live in neighborhoods and wouldn’t face this, it would be farmers who lost their land, and income from the bushels of grain that they could no longer grow.

People moved here for lower taxes and the rural nature of the county, and now so many of them want to keep others from doing the same, and in so doing they will doom the county to fail, but first they will cost a lot of people a lot of money.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions on issues, I do wish though, that my fellow Republicans would understand that the people who own the land have a right to do as they wish with it within the law.

Now I haven’t mention Ms. Deaver much here, and that is because she really added little to the discussion, she seemed only to ask whether or not the people in the room felt they had a voice, sounds like someone is up for election. That is all I have to say about Ms. Deaver, I won’t reduce myself to say more.

22 Comments on "Something Good To Write About"

  1. Lisa Palko says:

    The problem is we have moderate republicans in this state. It is hard to distinguish them from the democrats. I agree with your assessment. Talk should have been about growth and lower taxes. Now, mind you, I live in New Castle county and I have had it up to my nose with the liberal suffocation this state has had to endure. It has been too long. If republicans in this state want to win in 2016, they are going to have to be bolder and further to the right. We need economic growth in this state. Every where you go, there are small shopping centers with closed businesses. People can’t afford the taxes. I am not a politician, just a citizen who realizes that our state needs real change by real people who aren’t afraid of the democrats.

  2. Frank Knotts says:

    Lisa, not sure going right is the answer. Most times as people go to the right it becomes
    All about the social issues and thy only distracts from the fiscal issues. The problem is that too many people take the small view of things. Instead of realizing that growth keeps the taxes low by increasing the tax base, so many people are only concerned with their tiny patch of grass.
    There are plenty of people who think like this across the spectrum.

  3. waterpirate says:

    Growth also provides jobs to support the economy , and support the new tax base. The ” shut the door behind me” has been a eastern Sussex oddity since I can remember.

  4. Pat Fish says:

    Frank, I just could not agree with you more.

    In fact, I have a perfect example involving my own church. Now my church, St. Jude the Apostle, is located on Route 1, Lewes, past Savannah road on the right. We have a little access road called Tulip Drive that has a blinking light. There is a small residential development to the left of the church facing it from Route 1.

    We normally hire a state trooper to work the light during weekend masses; other times the light blinks and is not a working red light.

    So some developer wants to put in a new housing development behind the church and this past Sunday they all went nuts.

    “It will destroy the wetlands,” the Pastor shouted from the podium. First, I never buy this destroying the wetlands nonsense. I lived for fifteen years on a little cove off of the Chesapeake Bay. the wetlands can handle it but it always sounds good.

    Mostly the parishioners are all worried about that traffic light at Tulip drive and Route 1. “We pay the police to handle that light,” the Pastor continued to shout. “If that light goes on automatic many of you will get killed trying to get out of here, especially in the summer!”

    The whole lot of them are going to show up at a hearing tomorrow night in fact, at the Board of Zoning and Planning, in front of the Wheatly guy in fact, ran against Rob Arlett.

    They’ve got petitions and everyone signing them before church…man the Board o Zoning and Planning won’t know what hit them.

    Now I’d honestly not care too much to see that development behind the church because it would be really inconvenient getting into and out of church. But that’s the only reason and I don’t think for a minute it will hurt anything.

    It’s how people react but that little development across Tulip drive from my church doesn’t hurt much of anything and they fought that too!

    Point being, good intentions are not always the reasons people protest this and insight into Joan Deaver for you Frank, this woman will get a bunch of people passionately devoted to stopping anything near their homes and she’ll go into the Sussex county council fighing the devil on their behalf. She’s a Democrat; she operates on emotion.

    I call it the NIMBY phenomena…NOT IN MY BACK YARD!

    They got their home now everyone else stay home.

    It’s those elected folk who need to keep a calm head about it and instead we have Joan Deaver.

    I didn’t think this was worth a post of my own but glad I got a chance to get it off my mind.

    And I don’t believe that traffic light can’t be timed manually during mass times but man they’re all on a tear down at St. Jude’s so stay out of the way.

  5. mouse says:

    What are the limits and impact of growth? Does growth really pay for the infrastructure to accomodate it or does it cost more than it brings in? Is rezoning some kind of entitlement for large land owners? Should Sussex County Council have the perverse incentive of the transfer tax to meet its budget?

    The inland bays are in embarassing shape now with signs all over the bays warning against swimming or shellfishing due to bacteria. Who is actually benefiting when large real estate investment companies come in, deforest a couple hundred acres of land, throw up as many generic high desnsity plastic houses as possible to accomodate cheap transplant retirees looking to evade taxes? Do developers actually provide jobs or do they mostly contract illegals? The inland bays are the backbone of the costal economy which provides a high tax base for the state. Should the financial interests of a few be allowed to kill the goose?

  6. old sussex county native says:

    Back in the old days, believe it or not — the era of Curt Steen, et al — the conservatives were the Democrats, and the Republicans were pretty much Nelson Rockefeller Republicans, looked on by most of the native Sussex Countians I knew then as “liberal republicans” All of the Democrats in my family were very conservative Methodist Sussex Countians. The average Democrat today is far, far more liberal and progressive than the old kind of Democrat that some call “Blue Dogs.”

  7. Dave says:

    The simple fact is, excessive growth changes the characteristics of the community in which people have chosen to live. While it may increase the amenities, it also increases traffic and congestion and increases the load on infrastructure such as sewer and water. That said, not all growth is bad. Also, no growth may be just as bad as excessive growth. The question is, what about the community is worth preserving in context of it’s character? There is a balance that must be achieved to support all the demands and needs of a community. If there was a large community without a grocery store, there would almost no objection to that kind of growth. On the other hand, if there was a 4 lane road planned to be built right through half your house Frank, it might be something that you would object to.

    We must balance private property rights with the impacts on the community because the community also has rights. I won’t pretend to know what the proper balance is, but I do know that at the moment, there are almost no constraints on what gets built and where and much of that building is detrimental to the community, not the least of which is congestion and traffic. DELDOT has no quality of life criteria in regards to roads and land use. That is what we would look to the county council for AND for which they have abdicated responsibility.

  8. mouse says:

    Their is no liberal left party in the US except maybe the greens. The democrats don’t have the nasty talk radio race bating religious nut pandering rhetoric but they are just as willing to sell out average people for the robber baron class, polluters and corporate crooks as the Republicans

  9. waterpirate says:

    I hate to burst the bubble…… but the character that needed to be preserved in eastern Sussex disappeared with the grass median strip and farmland where the bustle on route 1 now exists. It is the never ending march of population and growth. The battle is over in eastern Sussex, character lost. My fathers famous quote about Lewes went something like this ( this town went to hell when the chief of police stopped wearing his fishing boots and it ( policing ) became a full time job. )

  10. Hoit Soit says:

    Interesting and insightful that the consequences of rapid and largely unregulated development in eastern Sussex appears to be an increasing concern to many directly affected by it–regardless of party affiliation. That surprised me. Thanks for your coverage of this meeting, Frank.

  11. Frank Knotts says:

    Dave, I have to say, this “character” argument reminds me of the sheriff argument. People pick an arbitrary moment in time and say, “this was the perfect time, we can go forward no more”.
    As WP stated, there was a time when the character of the area was rural, that got changed by the very people who now want to stop and further growth.
    Dave is right in that no growth, or stunted growth would be just as bad. The businesses that are here now cannot survive simply on breaking even, they need growth, or else the county will begin to shrink and taxes will go up as the tax base also shrinks.

  12. Old Sussex County Native says:

    I almost think it humorous that people who moved here in the 1990’s want to preserve it like was in the 90’s when they moved here. I am an old native, and I’ll support anything that is planned and sensible. You can’t stop the change. Did I love the way it was in the 50’s and 60’s when I grew up here? Yep. In my opinion iIt was better than now to my way of thinking. But those days are long gone. So to all of you “come here’s” who have moved here, now you know how we felt when you all came. And when my grandparents came here, I am sure the native americans didn’t like it so much either. The passing of the sands of time and generational changes are not always easy or kind. So now it’s your turn to have new people moving in and upsetting your apple cart. To all the prospective people who what to move here, I say: “Hi, welcome to Sussex County.” Let ’em come. You can’t stop progress… hope you can help make our community better when you get here…

  13. delacrat says:

    “So why is it that people who are a part of the Republican party, are more interested in being able to keep others out, instead of growth?” – Frank

    Well, Republicans tend to be conservative and conservatives are supposed to, you know, conserve stuff, like the character of the area, or what’s left of it.
    If conservatives stop conserving , then there is no point to being a conservative.

  14. Frank Knotts says:

    Nice try Delacrat, so which character should we conserve? The one from the 1600s or maybe the ice age?

  15. Honi Soit says:

    Nice try Frank, but you can only conserve something that exists in the present–not something that is long gone. Too late to conserve the giant ground sloth or the mastadon from the Ice Age. They’re extinct.

  16. Frank Knotts says:

    Honi, I am sure that you understand the point I was making. And like the mastodon, that character that they think they would be conserving is also long gone.

  17. mouse says:

    How about we just preserve/restore the natural flora and fauna in the streams and bays from the toxic impact of growth? Back in the 80’s most of the non tidal fresh water streams in eastern sussex were clear, healthy and full of diverse species of fly larvae, fish, clams and aquatic vegetation and that is what fed the inland bays. Today these same streams are mostly clouded by run off of developments with ugly brown generic plastic houses built by parasitic developers who rape pillage and run. Don’t believe me, take a look at any stream yourself. Is it so much to ask for that the new people coming for quality of life and to escape taxes and the real estate development companies who throw up their abomoinations to the Earth not destroy the fabric of life and quality for everyone else? Maybe a some stream buffers and forest replacement?

  18. mouse says:

    These people are going to move here no matter what. If we maybe asked them to build in a way that doesn’t create a polluted, urbanized, deforested unplanned hell do you realy think they will stop coming? If we consider aesthetics and ask for, open space, trees and some non cookie cutter homes that don’t look like Plasticville Stepford homes, do you think they will stop coming? If new requirements add $10K to a $300K house do you really think anyone working and living in Sussex County would be impacted?

  19. mouse says:

    I remember asking someone back in the 80’s when I arrived where the grocery store, butcher and bakery were. Tom Best was the answer to all 3, lol. Weekend entertainment in the winter was the pet shop in Rehoboth Mall

  20. Rick says:

    Instead the room seemed unanimous in its desire to stunt growth, development and expansion of the county. Most of the questions were about how the county could “STOP” new developments from happening, how the county could “STOP” new shopping centers from opening, how to “STOP” farmers from being able to sell their land when they decided they wanted to.

    As more people from high-tax areas like Eastern PA, NJ and Northern Virginia move here, they’ll bring their politics with them. To them, developers are the personification of evil. Not-so-ironically, many of the anti-growth fanatics fighting the proposed mall at Cave Neck Rd. are from Lewes and Rehoboth- towns where almost every square inch is developed.

    It is the dialectics perfected by Lenin- unite opposite ideas.

    “Hi, I’m from Lewes. No, there aren’t many building lots left in our town- anywhere. Development is bad.”

  21. Frank Knotts says:

    Rick, glad to see there are some things we can still agree on.

  22. mouse says:

    Lewes is full of interesting historic landscaped architecture that is hundreds of years old. Real estate development companies build the cheapest, highest density, plastic generic crap possible creating abominations to the Earth and humanity as well as create huge demands for infrastructure without paying a cent. They provide few real jobs and largely hire illegals in jobs without benefits..

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