|By Mary K. Ryan on Thursday, August 01, 2002 - 08:47 am:|
What on earth was the Sussex County Council thinking when it approved zoning changes to allow the construction of a new 10-acre shopping center and 372 single-family houses in the Fenwick Island area where 3,000 structures are slated for development! Did they not hear what the County Planning and Zoning director said about the lack of infrastructure to support such development? Or did they just not want to hear him?
I am confused about the process. I thought County Councils were supposed to rely on what planning officials say about development and infrastructure. These professionals provide "nuts-and-bolts" insights on the impact of developments, land use compliance and burdens on community services that will adversely affect existing landowners and
businesses (not to mention future homeowners and tenants of the new shopping center).
If this is how the process should work, why did the Council ignore the information provided by the Planning and Zoning Director? Did they all agree with the quote attributed to Dale Dukes that "property owners have the right to develop their lands if they choose to?" Does Mr. Duke refuse to recognize that existing and future property and business owners have economic interests, which can be adversely affected by uncontrolled development through higher taxes, increased traffic, deteriorating roads, etc? Does he believe there should be no limits on development? If so, why have zoning laws or a land use plan that, theoretically, balances the long-term commercial and private interests of the entire community?
Or, per chance, does he mean that developments should absorb the total cost of their development? Apparently not. Otherwise, Council members would have imposed some limitations on these two zoning requests that would have mitigated the predictable infrastructure costs. And what would have been wrong with the Council denying, or, at least, tabling the rezoning requests if the ensuing infrastructure costs were too high at this time? Seemingly, that would be asking too much.
One can only conclude that something is drastically wrong when a County Council can ignore the Countys own planning and zoning experts with impunity. A County Council that merely rubber stamps rezoning requests and systematically overrides its experts, its zoning laws and the County's land use plan adds no value to the process. We need to elect Peg Baunchalk to the Council to ensure it represents all existing and future County residents, both private and commercial, and starts making the tough decisions. That is what the Council was created to do.
Mary K. Ryan
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