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Lewes, Delaware
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April 28, 2017     Cape Gazette
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April 28, 2017
 

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Sussex comp plan should consider tourism data Jeff Stone’s excellent letter in the April 13 edition recom- mends a reset for the 2018 Sussex County Comprehensive Plan, based on an evaluation of what has and hasn’t worked from the 2008 plan, and getting a grasp on the causes of current issues we face. I suggest that currently available tourism data be brought to bear on these issues as well. Here’s why: Accurate projection of popula- tion growth in Sussex County has become one of the big challenges for the 2018 Sussex plan. This week, we learned that the P&Z commissioners have acknowl- edged that part-time residents in seasonal homes, which make up 30 percent of all housing units in the county, need to be counted as a critical element of the plan. As a result, population esti- mates for Sussex County have recently been updated, using U.S. Census data of 2.5 persons per household for seasonal second homes. But that data doesn’t tell the whole story in an area where tourism is a major part of the economy. Data released a few months ago by the state tourism office for 2015 confirms the nearly 38,000 seasonal second homes in Sussex County. The report goes further to indicate that many are used as rentals (for total revenue of $1.05 billion or 34 percent of total state tourism revenue!) Occupancy of rental houses typically exceeds the Census average number of occupants by a large multiple. For example, a three-bedroom house may be owned by a couple but advertised to sleep eight (of- tentimes not counting children under 6), and would likely be occupied at close to that level in order to spread the cost of rent- ing a house vs. staying in a hotel. In the process of “living like a local,” these visitors rely on county services, just as a full- time resident would. Yet, unlike the local resident, most pay noth- ing for those services (only the municipalities charge a lodging tax in rental homes). The tourism data shows a significant num- ber of these rentals are in the county, which should come as no surprise, given the increased popularity of short-term vacation rentals over traditional hotels. Affordable housing is another big challenge for the county, and information presented at a recent League of Women Voters forum on that topic was bleak, showing that a large part of the workforce can’t afford to live here. Numerous studies have shown that short-term rentals lead to rent increases and reduce the housing supply. Every time a house or condo is converted into a short-term rental, a prospective long-term occupant (tenant) is DENY HOWETH PHOTO MAGNOLIA TREES are among the first to blossom as spring weather finally arrives in the Cape Region. WRITE NOW Letters must be signed and include a telephone number for verification. Please keep letters to 650 words or fewer. We reserve the right to edit for content and length. Write to Cape Gazette, PO Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958; or preferably email newsroom@ capegazette.com. Letters » Weather Picture » Editorial » T he recent March for Science in Washington, D.C., Lewes and other places drew attention to the essen- tial role good science plays in wise decision-making. But as with the use of any tools - like science and resulting knowledge - realizing a positive outcome depends on how and where we use them. The most overt example comes in discus- sion of sea-level rise and climate change. Plenty of solid, well-vetted and peer-reviewed science documents sea-level rise. Reason- able people who look at the evidence have to stretch to deny the existence of either or both. What may be debatable is the degree to which human activity, such as the generation of atmosphere-warming greenhouse gases, is accelerating the warming underway since the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago. That debate continues at the global level and impacts policy agreements among nations. At the local level, however, municipal, county and state policy makers have to sift through information and determine how to apply which facts for the protection of infrastructure, property and natural resources. Making knee-jerk policy decisions in a global “sky is falling” atmosphere risks wasting lots of time and resources. In Norfolk and Miami Beach, sea-level rise coupled with land sinking beneath millions of tons of concrete is caus- ing flooding issues. Does that flooding mean that in Delaware we have to hurry up and do something to shore up our defenses? In Sussex County, we can protect our houses for hundreds of years by building up higher. What we can’t do is ensure that our marshes and wetlands, beaches and dunes will continue to serve as buffers for storms, and sponges for wind-driven and flooding tides - unless we protect them. Because of Delmarva’s configuration as a great sand spit formed in the wake of the last ice age, the impact of sea-level rise will be felt more slowly and incrementally than in other hardened areas like Norfolk and Miami. But we’re foolish if we don’t heed the evi- dence and take steps to protect and nurture the natural defenses that have served us so well. Using scientific tools takes care 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. Continued on page 7 For local weather, including highs and lows see page 135 » Viewpoints 6 FRIDAY, APRIL 28 - MONDAY, MAY 1, 2017 Cape Gazette Cape Gazette Publisher, Dennis Forney, Ext. 303 dennisforney@capegazette.com Editor, Trish Vernon, Ext. 315 newsroom@capegazette.com Office Manager, Kathy Emery, Ext. 305 kemery@capegazette.com Sports Editor Emeritus, Dave Frederick, Ext. 304 fredman@capegazette.com News Editor, Laura Ritter, Ext. 320 laura@capegazette.com Associate Editor, Jen Ellingsworth, Ext. 319 jen@capegazette.com Sports Editor, Nick Roth, Ext. 317 nickroth@capegazette.com Copy Editor, Bernadette Hearn, Ext. 316 bernie@capegazette.com NEWS Ron MacArthur, Ext. 318 ronm@capegazette.com Ryan Mavity, Ext. 337 ryanm@capegazette.com Melissa Steele, Ext. 336 melissasteele@capegazette.com Chris Flood, Ext. 335 cflood@capegazette.com Maddy Lauria, Ext. 321 maddy@capegazette.com Molly MacMillan mollymac@capegazette.com SPORTS WRITERS Tim Bamforth tim@seashorestrider.com Frederick Schranck Fschranck@HoleByHole.com CONTRIBUTORS Nathalie Willard Nancy Katz Chris Antonio Eric Burnley Denise Clemons John McDonald Bob Yesbek Chris Wildt Rob Rector WEB MANAGER Catherine M. Tanzer, cmt@capegazette.com PHOTOGRAPHERS Dan Cook Steven Billups Deny Howeth PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Edwin Krumm, Ext. 309 edwink@capegazette.com CLASSIFIEDS Classifieds Manager, Sandy Barr, Ext. 300 sbarr@capegazette.com Melissa Perdue, Ext. 302 mwilkins@capegazette.com ADVERTISING Sales Manager, Chris Rausch, Ext. 312 chrisr@capegazette.com Cindy Bowlin, Ext. 307 cindyb@capegazette.com Amanda Neafie, Ext. 306 aneafie@capegazette.com Andrew Thomas, Ext. 310 andrewt@capegazette.com Kathy McGinty, Ext. 311 kmcginty@capegazette.com PRODUCTION STAFF Teresa Rodriguez Kristin Sinnott Eric Lawson Christopher D. Foster Bob Yesbek Sarah Bryce CIRCULATION Manager, Chris Flood, Ext. 335 cflood@capegazette.com Joni Dempsey Scott Vickers Jay Besche Dan Cook Tom King Pat and Bill Ash SUBSCRIPTIONS/MAIL DELIVERY Melissa Perdue, Ext. 302 mperdue@capegazette.com RECEPTIONIST Charity Vernon Email for news, letters: newsroom@capegazette.com Email for advertising: adsales@capegazette.com Email to subscribe: subscribe@capegazette.com Email for web: online@capegazette.com About Cape Gazette: The Cape Gazette (USPS 010294), known office of publication at 17585 Nassau Commons Blvd., Lewes, DE 19958, is published every Tuesday and Friday by Cape Gazette Ltd. Periodicals postage paid at Lewes, Delaware. Subscriptions are available at $39 per year in Sussex County; $56 elsewhere. Address all correspondence to :  Cape Gazette, P.O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958 Telephone: 302-645-7700 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Cape Gazette, P.O. Box 213 Lewes, DE 19958 Volume 23 No. 97 Most responders want loved ones’ autopsies Should families have access to their loved ones’ autopsies? Yes 93% No 4% Not sure 3% The total of votes counted was 568. To participate in the current web poll, go to CapeGazette.com. Web Poll »