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June 19, 2009     Cape Gazette
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116 FRIDAY, JUNE 19 - MONDAY, JUNE 22, 2009 NEWS - cape Gazette Dewey Beach height limit under fire in Senate By Rob Kunzig rku nzig@capegazette.com Sen. George Bunting, D- Bethany Beach, said he thought a unanimous House passage meant smooth sailing for Dewey Beach's 35-foot height limit, known as House Bill 50. Howev- er, the bill has encountered seri- ous resistance in the Senate, leading Bunting to fear the bill won't have enough votes to leave the Community and County Af- fairs Committee. "It doesn't look like it has enough votes to get out of com- mittee," he said. Bunting said lobbyists for and against the bill have been ex- tremely vocal; New Castle devel- oper Harvey, Hanna & Associ- ates (HHA) in particular has flexed its political muscle. "Money does talk up there," he said. "I don't know Mr. Hanna, or who he employs up in New Cas- tle, but I know in New Castle and Kent he's getting a sympathetic ear." Bunting said resistance to HB50 stems from two sources; first, Bunting said some senators and lobbyists contend that ongo- ing litigation concerning Dewey's zoning code disables the Senate from voting on HB50; second, there is a general wari- ness about setting precedent by signing a height limit into a town's charter. Typically, height limits are placed in a town's zoning code. But Dewey residents voted by an 86 percent majority in a town referendum to put the 3S-foot limit in the charter, where it would be invulnerable to a board of adjustment appeal. 'L charter is a mini-constitu- tion," Bunting said. "Putting in a footage limit - it's kind of new. ground." While HB50 came under scrutiny in the House, Bunting said it didn't meet any heavy re- sistance until it came before the Community and County Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Bethany Hall-Long, D-Glasgow. ' bill that didn't have a lot of opposition suddenly has a lot of opposition," Bunting said. "There's been a lot of lobbying on both sides." While members of Citizens to Preserve Dewey (CPD) have been sending the General As- sembly a stream of letters sup- porting HBS0, Bunting said the hotel and motel industry has stepped forward in a way it had- n't before; HHA, which once sub- mitted plans to build a 68-foot structure at Ruddertowne, has spoken out against the bill. CPD member ]oy Howell said she feels her group has been un- fairly hindered in its efforts to . support HB50. "We weren't even notified that the bill was going to be heard in committee," she said. "Tile may- or didn't tell her fellow commis- sioners and she didn't notify the public." Howell said she is outraged by HHRs efforts to kill HBS0 based on its two active lawsuits against the town. "That's the height of injustice," she said. "They come and sue the town and then the tell the legislators, 'Don't do any- thing because of our lawsuits:" While CPD had earlier pushed to weaken the controversial amendment guaranteeing a board of adjustment appeal, Howell said the group is now fo- cusing on getting the bill passed however they can. "We're iust trying to get the bill through at this point," she said. "We're down to the wire on time, and the legislators have other serious priorities. We're Pelican Continued from page 115 the one planned along Route 24 that take this approack "In Sussex County, awareness is low, incentives and enforce- ment is minimal, and it somehow seems to be acceptable to contin- ue building much the same way we did 20 years ago when we had no knowledge of the longer-term impacts," she said. "It's even more ironic that Lhis attitude ex- ists in a place where the very livelihood of our area is so tied to its natural resources." just trying to be realistic" Commissioner Diane Hanson said Mayor Dell Tush's lack of communication impaired her ef- forts to support HB50. "It is extremely frustrating that this whole process has been so grossly mismanaged by our may- or. She told the commissioners, citizens and homeowner groups to back off and stay out of it," she wrote in an email. ''We were told not to send letters to the Legisla- ture, and you see where her ex- pertise and political savvy got us." Tush was unavailable for com- ment. Hall-Long was unavailable for comment. Bunting said he wants to get HB50 out of com- mittee and give it a chance on the Senate floor. "I'd like to get the bill to the floor, at least for a de- bate," he said. Even in spite of a EAST COAST pressing budget crisis, Bunting said the debate surrounding HB50 is important and potential- ly precedent setting. "We could have a scenario where a developer can bankrupt a town," Bunting said, referenc- ing the lawsuits filed against the town by Dewey Beach Enterpris- es and HHA. "I don't know what you do - when a town basically becomes insolvent." $300 INSTANT CASH BACK Custom-built home wl5BR! Walk to town or the canal, or bike to the beach. Complete first-floor living, plus another MBI another BR, separate laundry, and family room upstairs. Great for in-laws or extended family! Fantastic gourmet kitchen, open floorplan, plus over- sized, heated/air-conditioned garage! $655,OOO Directions: From Five Points, travel east on Savannah Road. Enter Lewes and turn left at Fourth Street and turn left on University Drive. House is on the left. SANDY BRAE LOADS OF ROOM! 3BR, 3.5BA, 3,200 SF custom home! First-floor mas- ter BR. Hardwood, tile. 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