County must listen to residents, environmental groups

April 22, 2022

The following letter was sent to Sussex County Council with a copy provided to the Cape Gazette for publication. 

We are writing you for the second time this year in support of positive action on the wetland buffer ordinance. We join with a large number of Sussex County residents who understand the importance of passing a wetland buffer ordinance that has the necessary language that will set county policy based on scientific proof for the environmental protection of our essential wetlands.

The county council must do the right thing at this point when environmental concerns are primary to the preservation of our county. Changes to the ordinance should only be ways to enhance enforcement provisions, thereby strengthening the ordinance. Waivers and exception language to allow developers and current property owners to cut trees without replacement, and to reduce the size of wetland vegetated buffers, are unacceptable and represent steps in a backward direction.

We have been following this multi-year process of addressing changes in the ordinance, including two days of public hearings and the use of a Wetland Buffer Working Group, which spent countless hours examining the issues and making recommendations. We urge you to listen to the working group, and respect the knowledgeable citizens and environmental groups who objectively want the obvious best choice for an improved ordinance.

Getting through the process of producing the final version of the wetland buffer ordinance has been filled with confusing additions and options. It doesn’t appear council wants the bottom line to be the protection of trees and forests. How can options even be considered that would allow for non-forested buffers, reduction of buffer widths and actual removal of buffers?  

As concerned citizens who vote, we urge council to eliminate all of the options, exceptions, waivers and confusing language that are currently being considered. Sussex County, which has become increasingly important to the state economy, needs a county council who places the preservation of Delaware’s resources above the workaround requests of groups interested in developing properties despite the negative consequences to the state’s precious wetlands.

R. Steven and Mary Louise Embrey
Bethany Beach


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