Deciding by not deciding

June 20, 2014

“It’s easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission.”

This old saying probably arose out of frustration with bureaucracy. It comes to mind when we consider the number of pending issues around us that seem to be going nowhere. Articles in other publications across the land indicate that it isn’t just a local concern, either. The overall sense is that with so many jurisdictions, courts and regulatory agencies investigating, reviewing, consulting, weighing, pondering, assessing and judging, we’re going nowhere fast, rapidly approaching decisional gridlock.

Consider these local issues:

It’s heading toward two years now since a federal court began considering the appeal of the Sussex County Council no vote on the Village Center rezoning just outside Lewes. How long will the county and the developers be left in limbo before the judge decides?

More than a year ago, a pedestrian was killed on Route 1 when a car struck him. No charges were filed; no disposition was announced. Police say only that the investigation is continuing. How long will that investigation continue and the driver and the family of the deceased be left wondering?

Months have passed since Sussex Council concluded hearings on the proposed RV park beside the headwaters of Love Creek. How long does it take to consider the evidence and take a vote?

Rehoboth Beach is under a federal order to remove its treated wastewater from Rehoboth Bay via Lewes-Rehoboth Canal. The city has applied for a state permit to construct an ocean outfall pipe. That application lies stalled on the desk of Collin O’Mara, secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. He, understandably, just plain doesn’t like the idea of an ocean outfall pipe along one of the nation’s top-rated beaches. But he hasn’t come up with an alternative solution or a decision on Rehoboth’s application. The positive we’re supposed to be realizing by getting the effluent out of the canal is being delayed indefinitely, and O’Mara’s heading off to his new post as executive director of the National Wildlife Federation in July. Wildlife, ocean outfall? That one will probably wait for the next secretary.

And then there’s the Bodenweiser jury that joined the no-decision bandwagon by giving up on its deliberations after little more than one day.

It’s said that not to decide is to decide, but why spend all this time and money if at the end nothing is decided?

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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