How can Sussex P&Z justify decision?

October 4, 2013

My wife and I are products and past participants of the Baltimore City and Harford County, Md.'s local political process and decision-making methodology. We recently retired to Lewes with the hope of enjoying a more fair and equitable system of local government. Baltimore and many of the surrounding counties are fraught with an “old boy” network and “it's who you know” process of political decision making on many issues ranging from school reading materials, zoning changes, building projects, etc.

It is commonly known and acknowledged as being a dysfunctional system of governing that has left most residents/voters feeling left out and powerless over many decisions that affect their everyday lives.

As current residents of The Retreat in Lewes, we have watched and participated in the RV City debacle from the beginning to the last “vote” by the P&Z commission. The similarities of this particular group are remarkably similar to the dysfunctional ones we left in Maryland. A distinct arrogance and self-serving attitude presented by some members of the board demonstrated a willingness to ignore and/or distort a variety of facts presented by multiple community members. Legitimate hard data was deemed inadmissible and is being excluded.

We are at a continuing loss watching expert testimony, when presented by community members, being routinely discounted or misinterpreted. Many individuals continue to question how such a decision by the P&Z commission can be made when the fiscal data presented by the county's own financial director and a retired financial expert from major business corporations is minimized and discounted; one has to redefine the reasoning behind such a denial. I too, groped with this illogical reasoning and subsequent decision-making process, but then it dawned on me.

An objective, rational and logical mind can only conclude there has to be a hidden agenda in play and the facts, fiscal data and the will of the majority are irrelevant variables to this committee.

If the will of the majority, coupled with supporting evidence and data, is not used in a democratic decision-making process, then one has to assume the ideals of the democratic process are being ignored in place of special interests.

A true democratic process must not only accept objective opposing and divergent views, but they must solicit them in order to present a fair and unbiased opinion and subsequent decision. The dismissal of the taxpayers/voters say in this matter by using the familiar smear-like tactics of “our experts are better than your experts” or the ever popular NIMBY accusations, are based on emotional and self-serving needs - not data or the will of the majority.

No one has to agree with any political and/or local government decision, but we must accept them when they are derived fairly and objectively by utilizing a true democratic process. This is what makes us different - the freedom to disagree through appropriate dissension and the voting process. It is our responsibility and obligation to challenge any unfair/biased decision-making processes like the one being played out in the Lingo RV City fiasco.

Dale E. Smith

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