Residents must tell Sussex leaders change is needed

September 15, 2023

For any citizen of Sussex County, there are plenty of opportunities to come together in support of our fragile and diminishing natural resources. I attended an educational panel Sept. 12 offered by the Sussex Preservation Coalition. Questions were directed to a recent Sussex County Council member, I.G. Burton, and a recent planning & zoning commissioner, Kim Hoey Stevenson. I was pleasantly surprised to see such a large number of neighbors take part in the meeting, but not surprised at the passion in the room. In answer to the many questions regarding the workings of both the county council and planning & zoning, I gained a clear understanding of why passion on the part of our citizens is not enough to tackle the constant erosion of our forests, waterways and wetlands. Both the county council and planning & zoning follow the codes as they are currently written. 

All of us can see the destruction taking place to our fragile environment. Every tree that is cut releases carbon back into our ecosystem. Replanted trees take decades to provide crucial CO2 containment, and we don't yet even have codes to provide for replanting. Healthy trees are clear-cut daily along our waterways while we adhere to old codes. Asphalt and concrete diminish the land's ability to absorb ever strengthening storm waters. Silt fences did little earlier this week to hold back topsoil from filling a small pond on Fairway Drive.

New developments such as Osprey Point on Old Landing Road want permission to fill over wetlands to provide a marina and public restaurant in the sensitive place where Arnell Creek meets the Rehoboth Bay.

The only way to change the existing codes that enable this continued, irreparable destruction is for three of our five county council members to stand together for real change. The only way to convince them to start working for real protection of the lowest-lying county in the lowest-lying state is for the citizens together to show up at council meetings and planning & zoning meetings and to write to the county council.

Please attend the Sussex County Council meeting at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 19, to oppose the commercialization at the end of Old Landing Road. Also please consider attending the workshop for county council and planning & zoning commissioners at 12:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 21, at the Emergency Operations Center in Georgetown. Let our elected county council members know we need real change to the building codes now!

Isabel Benson
Rehoboth Beach


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