Friday Editorial

Thoughts on Dewey and Sussex County Council

June 28, 2013

Here are a few thoughts on recent news in Delaware’s Cape Region: In Dewey Beach, hopefully three decisions will pave the way for more constructive and democratic decision making. But, no one is holding their breath.

First, Delaware’s Supreme Court ruled that it would not overturn a lower court decision validating the Ruddertowne agreement with the town allowing that landmark project to move forward. The appeal of the decision was ill-advised and a waste of the higher court’s time. Add to that the state’s approval for plans for a public bayside walk, and positive forward motion is evident.

Second, the state Attorney General’s Office said there was no basis for a complaint that Dewey’s mayor and two commissioners ran afoul of open-meeting laws when they joined for lunch following a hearing in Dover.

The ruling affirmed that all laws have to have some common sense in them, and telling three people they can’t meet for lunch just because they happen to serve on the same board makes no sense.

Finally, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that found the state’s Public Integrity Commission improperly found against Mayor Diane Hanson when it said she should have recused herself in a vote regarding the Rud­dertowne project and a height limitation. The high court agreed that just because Hanson rents rooms and so would the Ruddertowne development project, there was no conflict of interest rising to the level of requiring a recu­sal.

The ruling exonerated Hanson and made the Public Integrity Commission’s action look petty and politically suspect.

On the Sussex County Council level, how long will a majority of the members keep their heads in the sand when it comes to stormwater management issues?

Council had little problem giving developers a deadline extension on projects involving 18,000 build­ing sites but ignored requests by the state to have a county representative attend meetings concerning drainage issues that will doubt­less arise from continued development in Sussex and Delaware.

By pretending there is no problem, not joining such discussions, and deferring any action to state and conservation agencies, council members are demonstrating shortsightedness and irresponsibility by pass­ing completely predictable problems on to future generations of Sussex residents.