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April 13, 2001     Cape Gazette
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April 13, 2001
 

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16 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, April 13 - April 19, 2001 Price inland bays. development bill voted out of committee By Michael Short Rep. Shirley Price&apos;s, D-Mil- lville, inland bays legislation cleared a major hurdle April 11, when it was voted out of the House Land Use and Infrastruc- ture Committee by a 4-2 vote. House Bill 39 has been hailed as either angel or devil, depending on who is discussing it. and Wednesday's lengthy hearing was no exception. The bill will now go to the full House of Representa- tives for a vote. but it must still pass both houses - a battle that will be tough. Price's bill designates the inland bay,,, watershed as a critical area and re- quires addi- ,tonal inflnma- tion before de- veloplnent can be approved - information like" environ- mental assess- PRICE ments. The watershed is a huge land mass. which one speaker said includes fully one-third of Sussex Cotinty. Price began tile hearing by pass- ing around pictures of last sum- mer's menhaden fish kills, spread- ing the image of bloated and de- caying menhaden around Legisla- live Hall; She said the bill won'l trample local land use decision- making ability and won't ham- string development. Instead. Price said it will allow better decisions to be made. "'It only improves the process_At rec- ognizes that land use decisions in the inland bays affect water quali- tv...This does not i,1 any way take Inland bays Continued from page 1 He anncipates funding the $50 million through a bond issue. Those bonds would be backed up financially through a consistent stream of revenue to the state of Delaware. Oberle, however, would not comment on what that revenue stream will be. He was upbeat, however, that the $50 million can be level'aged despite the downturn in Delaware's economy in recent months. "'This is very doable." Oberle said. He said the legislation is "in keeping with the philosophy" of Governor Ruth Ann Minner. Oberle spoke on April 11 in fa- vor of Price's inland bays legisla- tion, calling his proposal a com- panion piece to her House Bill 39. "We have a problem and House Bill 39 is a huge step forward," he .said. He said his legislation could perhaps help fund the removal of point source discharges from the bays. Such point source dis- charges include the Lewes, Mills- boro and Rehoboth Beach Sewage Treatment Plants and'removal of those sources has long been a away decision-making authority." Critics claim.the opposite. The opponents of Price's bill said it will hurt the economy, tie the hands of Sussex County Council and other local government, ham- string growth and hurt the envi- ronment by increasing develop- ment sprawl. Lining up to oppose the legisla- tion was an impressive group. It included Sussex County Council, the Delaware Association of Real- tors. the Sussex County Associa- tion of Towns (SCAT), the Mills- boro Chamber of Commerce, the Lotlg Neck Business Association, the Positive Growth Alliance, the Home Builders Association of Delaware and the First State Man- ufactured Housing Institute. Weighing m to support the bill was also an impressive list that m- clt, ded the Association of Coastal Towns (ACq j, the Governor's Of- rice (Gov. Minner's policy adviser Andrea Kriner spoke on its be- hall'), the Delaware Audubon So- ciety, Sierra Club. Rep. Bill Ober- le, R-Beecher's Lot. Fenwick Is- land Mayor Peg Baunchalk. Save Our Coastal Communities. Green Delaware and the Delaware Nutri- ent Management Commission. The synopsis of H.B. 39 says: "'The bill designates the inland bays watershed as a critical area under the Land Use Planning Act: establishes an approach to assess- ing the impact of developments and other land uses within the in- land bays watershed: provides for the designation of a project as a development of regional signifi- cance: requires that assessments be prepared by applicants that identify the impacts of the pro- thorny and contentious issue with a heavy price tag. Oberle. however, made it clear that any environmental effort is fair game if he can wrangle the money for his legislation. He also targeted non-point source pollu- tion like farm runoff and septic systems. Non-point source poilu- posed land use action on the envi- - ronment, general pattern and char- acter of land use, public facilities, and transportation; and provides for a review and finding by the Cabinet Committee on State Plan- ning issues prior to any local ac- tion." "'l think it ought to be renamed as the red-tape bill," said Rich Collins. who opposed the legisla- tion. "Don't use a hatchet to kill a fly," said Sandra Ware of the new- ly formed Positive Growth Al- liance (PGA). "We all agree that they [the inland bays] must be protected, but we disagree that we must forfeit home rule to do it...We want to protect our bays, but we feel House Bill 39 is too far-reaching.'" Phyllis McKinley, the executive director of the First State Manu- factured Housing Institute, wor- ried the legislation could make it harder Ior manufactured homes to be sold in the inland bays water- shed. -" "House Bill 39 would be detri- mental to the economic health of our area of the watershed." said Joan Boyce. who serves as the Millsboro Chamber of Commerce executive director. Rick Woodin of the Delaware Home Builders Association said the bill would limit growth in de- velopment zones where infra'- "structure exists. The result would be more sprawl because growth would be pushed into the rural countryside, Woodin argued. Oberle argued for the bill. call- ing it a giant step forward. "I re- member when you harvested oys- ters in Rehoboth Bay and you tion, unlike point source pollution, does not come from a specific, easily identified source, such as a pipe from a sewer plant. He said he has been familiar with the inland bays since 1954 and "the changes are so dramatic they are almost incomprehensi- ble." Dennis Forney photo Above, Lingo creek meanders as it empties into Indian Riv- er Bay. Rep. Shirley Price has proposed legislation that would require developers to provide environmental assess- ments before they can receive approval to build. could eat raw clams without hav- ing to worry that you would die because of some horrible dis- ease." Rich Anthony of the southern Delaware Sierra Club chapter said arguments against the bill were over-dramatized. "You will un- doubtedly hear the Chicken Little attitude that this bill will cause economic upheaval." "House Bill 39 will not stop growth," said Fenwick Island Mayor Peg Baunchalk. Til Purnell. Iongtime Sussex County environmentalist and Center for the Inland Bays advo- cacy chair, said the bays are al- ready under great stress and that more knowledge will mean better decision-making ability. She called the bays a "'priceless asset." Kriner said Minner considers Price's bill part of her Livable Delaware agenda. "The governor believes in local control of land use decisions," she said. "[House Bill 39] is one of the pieces of the puzzle that will put Livable Delaware together." Thomas I. Barrows Attorney at Law Dover Office: (302) 734-7401 (302) 734-5532 Fax -.<K_ y.,V,>- -, Personal Injury Auto Accidents 309 Rehoboth Avenue Medical Malpractice Rehoboth office:. 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