WGMD Sussex County Forum

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By 90.7 fm on Monday, December 27, 2004 - 11:53 am:

BOYCOTT WGMD radio

By M.Opaliski on Sunday, January 02, 2005 - 03:50 am:

WHY ?

By BooBoo on Monday, January 03, 2005 - 09:52 pm:

Yes, Id like to know why also?

By 90.7 fm on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 11:32 pm:

The best thing they had was the Baba-booie guy but he's gone now.

By CBS on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 09:00 am:

This was first printed in the NEWS JOURNAL on 8/22/04
From http://www.delawareonline.com/newsjournal/...unity/08222004.html

COMMUNITY VIEW -- LOCAL OPINION
Sussex council tilts to west By RONALD WOHLUST
08/22/2004

Our forefathers, unhappy being taxed and governed by people they didn't elect, responded with a rebellion. Residents of eastern Sussex County are more docile, limiting protests to futile pleas for help from the Legislature in Dover, and whining.

Sussex County is generally two distinct areas, divided by U.S. 113. To the east are the beach communities; the county seat, Georgetown; and business and residential areas. The western portion is primarily farmland and small cities like Laurel and Seaford.

The big issues in Sussex County are development and population growth. In the 1990s, the population count rose by 38 percent, to 113,000. Housing units in Sussex increased 25 percent, to just over 93,000. Now about 60 percent of Sussex residents live east of Highway 113, and that doesn't count the owners of vacation homes who live elsewhere but have legitimate interests in county governance.

These East Countians elect only two of the five County Council members. The districts have been drawn so that three lie almost entirely west of Route 113.

Infrastructure improvements since 1990 have not kept pace with the population growth. Sewage collection and treatment facilities are not adequate, leaving large areas dependent on septic and other systems, many of them failing. Surface and underground water quality are threatened.

Highway access has not materially improved. While a few lanes have been added to parts of Highway 1, other primary roads serving the area (routes 9, 24 and 26) have unchanged capacities. Summer weekends produce gridlock. If an evacuation is ever forced by a hurricane or nor'easter, it had better occur between November and March.

Other quality of life issues typical of dense areas are appearing in the shore zones of Sussex County. There are fewer trees and open spaces. Water quality is down and fish kills are more common. Wetlands are threatened. Fire and rescue services are stretched and traffic congestion increases response times. Many feel the relaxed atmosphere of the shore area is disappearing.

The Sussex County Council continues to approve developments large and small. The majority from West County seldom opposes any building interests.

Like so many things in politics, it's all about money. The Sussex County budget is mainly funded by the real estate transfer tax. The very active eastern Sussex real estate market produces so much revenue that the property tax rate has been virtually unchanged for 15 years. There's no incentive for council members from the west to slow growth in the east. They get the money, and the development doesn't take place in their back yards.

The Legislature is likewise disinclined to do anything to slow eastern Sussex development, as the State of Delaware shares the revenue from the transfer tax.

Sussex County Council President Dale Dukes, a West Countian, proclaims himself proud of the council's land management record. He points to the low tax rate as evidence, and criticizes proponents of slower development as "no growth" obstructionists. Dukes thinks the eastern taxpayers should wait for the 2010 census results and hope for a more equitable districting scheme to emerge.

They might be less skeptical of his remarks if they didn't see Dukes Lumber trucks unloading at construction sites east of Route 113.

Numerous proposals have been made for increasing council size or otherwise changing the makeup. The president and members from the west have thus far rebuffed all. What they can't do is sell the idea that it's equitable for 40 percent of the voters to control 60 percent of the council seats.

Ronald Wohlust, of Dagsboro, is a surety consultant and member of the News Journal CAB. E-mail him at RBWOHL1@mchsi.com.


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