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December 6, 2002     Cape Gazette
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Name middle school for Frank Mercer I should like to comment on the letter tiffed "Name middle school after late Frank Mercer," in the Nov. 1-7 issue of the Cape Gazette. I moved in August 2002 to the Maple Grove, Minn. area to be near my daughter. I am living in an independent living apartment facility in an annex near my son- in-law and daughter, Emilie. I previously owned and occu- pied a home in DeVries Circle in Lewes, and reared two daughters and a son who were in the Lewes School while Frank Mercer served that school. My son gradu- ated the year consolidation took place. Unfortunately, he was nev- er in the new Cape Henlopen building. However his daughter was a student and graduated there in 2002. I would like to support Dr. Gary Wray's views concerning one of the new middle schools to be con- sidered to be named for Frank Mercer. I attended some of the meetings held by Mr. Mercer in preparing the three districts - Lewes, Rehoboth and Milton - to consolidate into one school dis- trict, and I am aware that it was a difficult task, well accomplished to guide the consolidation into the Cape Henlopen School District. I served 10 years as school sec- retary, and as a person back in the 1920s, graduating in 1929, I know quite a lot about the responsibili- ties of school administration. Geneva P. Morris Maple Grove, Minn. Dennis Forney Seven reasons for Rehoboth downzoning I wish to summarize the seven reasons why I support the Plan- ning Commission and urge the Rehoboth City Commissioners to rezone from commercial to resi- dential the ten lots at the north- western end of tree-lined Colum- bia Avenue to match its decades- long use. The democratic process set in law for this zoning clange began in 1996, more than six years ago, when the Planning Commission, as part of its respon- sibility to formulate a Compre- hensive Long Range Plan for the City of Rehoboth, began a review of those properties that are resi- dential in use but commercial in zoning. Since theia there have been public information sessions and public hearings with ample notice addressing the issue of re- zoning from commercial to resi- dential. The Planning Commis- sion has reached a thoughtful con- clusion and made its recommen- dation, as required by statute, in its current Comprehensive Devel- opment Plan. I submit the follow- ing seven reasons in support of the proposal to rezone to residen- tial the northwestern end of Co- lumbia Avenue to match its long- term use. First: The ten lots proposed to be zoned residential at the north- western end of Columbia Avenue have been used as residential for decades. Although some proper- ties may have lain dormant for some time, all have experienced the same increase in value as all residential properties in the Pines and in all of Rehoboth. The resi- dential use of these ten lots has been consistent with all the prop- erties on the north side of Colum- bia Avenue stretching to the beach even though the ten lots on the western end have rested quietly under commercial zoning. The Planning Commission addressed this situation beginning in 1996. Second: The southwest end of Columbia Avenue is zoned com- mercial and has been commercial in use - the small Printz Motel, the Royal Farms building, and Bruce's Hair Salon. Those com- mercial buildings back up to com- mercial buildings on Rehoboth Avenue. If commercial buildings were to be built on the residential lots across the street on the north side of Columbia Avenue, those commercial buildings, with less restrictive setbacks and floor- area-to-lot-size ratios, would back directly up against residences in a long-established, old residential neighborhood, Such c0mmerciiI buildings have no place in a resi- dential neighborhood. The street of Columbia Avenue provides the appropriate dividing line between commercial use and residential use, and allowing commercial use on the northwest side would fun- damentally change both the na- ture and the use of this area for Rehoboth's future. Third: Tree-lined Columbia Av- enue has always been a beautiful entry to the Pines and to Re- hoboth. , traffic circle has now been authorized to recognize and deal appropriately with the mix of uses at this entry to our city. Clearly neither city commission- ers nor residents have contemplat- ed the addition of a hotel, an apartment building, an office building, bank, restaurant or other commercial center at this key point of entry for'our City. The in- tended benefit of the traffic circle - smooth, safe, quiet movement of vehicles and pedestrians at the en- trance to our City - would be negated should the city be faced with an additional commercial area. Fourth: Commercial develop- ment of these lots with its added density, traffic, safety issues, and visual impact would fundamental- ly change not only the quality of this entry into the City but also would impact the use and enjoy- ment of Shaw Park. Shaw Park ha proven to be one of the wisest decisions made in recent years by our city's leaders, when they con- verted a trailer park which had been diminishing in use into a beautiful public park which is ful- ly utilized by local families, visi- tors, running clubs, and other recreational groups next to the canal at the entryway to our city. Why would we now want to sur- render all of these gains by allow- ing properties long residential in use to be turned into a commer- cial center across from Shaw Park, a city gem? Fifth: There is recent precedent for the downzoning from com- mercial to residential in the St. Michael's Place section of the Pines, only blocks away from the subject ten lots on Columbia Av- enue. When the Epworth Church about eight years ago wanted to sell some of its cemetery land zoned commercial in a long-es- tablished residential neighbor- hood, the neighbors appealed to the city commissioners to rezone the area residential to match the residential status of the neighbor- hood. Such downzoning was ac- complished by ordinance, and the area was developed by the pur- chaser of the -land with beautiful single-family residences in keep- ing with the neighborhood. The city commissioners acted for the benefit of the area and the city as a whole, in keeping with the stat- ed goal of maintaining residential use in those areas which are clear- ly residential. Sixth: There is precedent in law for downzoning from commercial to residential. Two Delaware Supreme Court cases, Willdel Re- ally (281 A2d 612) and Shelburne Inc. (224 A2d 250), uphold the commissioners' right to down- zone from commercial to residen- tial. In one case a building permit for construction of a commercial building had already been applied for and granted. The court found that such downzoning from com- mercial to residential was appro- priate and legal. Our city commis- sioners have taken such actions in the past and several of them have campaigned on maintaining the residential character of Rehoboth. This current decision for rezoning to residential is, I believe, a meas- ure of their willingness to act on promises. Seventh: Much has been said about property rights and the rights of landowners, particularly by owners of the five lots who seem to want to develop the land commercially after years of resi- dential use. The rights of property owners do not begin and end with the rights of those who own an in- dividual piece of property subject to local laws. Every property owner in Rehoboth Beach is af- fected by the decisions of our lo- Continued on page 8 CAPE GAZETTE, leridLa, De.,,,tk, e.12;2e0,2 --7 How about those large northern visitors plunging into the water along our coast Have you seen the Booby birds - big and white and plunging - working along our coast lately? Most people know them as gan- nets, but according to the Audubon Society's Field Book, gannets are the only northern member of the Booby family. The book also identifies gannets as a strictly maritime species and "one of the most spectacular birds." We should feel privileged that these birds - known for their nest- ing habits in the north Atlantic in a wide'arc from eastern Canada to Norway - have been putting on a feeding display for us as they move into their wintering waters. We first noticed them on Thanksgiving Day while walking Rehoboth's Boardwalk as a dinner appetizer. Their diving and their size - as big as a goose - caught our attention. They weren't cor- morants. Cormorants dive from the surface of the water. These birds were diving from 40 and 50 feet up. They were also more col- orful than cormorants which are uniformly dark. And they weren't pelicans, though they were diving like pelicans. Pelicans don't usu- ally stay around this late in the year and they didn't have the peli- carl's distintive head and pouched bill. So what were they? We watched them working the whole length of the Boardwalk, not much more than 100 yards out. On Friday, we saw the same birds while we were walking on the Ocean City Boardwalk. This week, Catherine Tanzer - another avid birder - reported she saw some of the same birds working the Delaware Bay waters off Lewes Beach. Tune for the books and the internet. Gannets came out as the clear choice. Though they nest in the arc at the top of the North At- lantic, they winter along the At- lantic coast south to Florida. Here's what the Audubon guide says: "During migrations they may be observed offshore, either gliding above the water or diving into the sea after fish, sometimes plunging headlong from heights as great as 50 feet or more. A remarkable system of interconnected air sacs under the skin of the breast serves as a cushion to protect the bird BAREF00TIN' from the shock of striking the wa- ter. A trip to the the breeding colony on Bonaventure Island, off the Gasp6 Peninsula, Quebec, yields one of the great sights in the bird world: over 15,000 pairs of gannets incubating, brooding their young, or searching for food. Gannets, like other members of the Booby family, take part in an elaborate series of displays." Information from the internet reveals that gannets, once they are away from their breeding colonies - such as this time of the year - never rest on land. Like feeding pelicans, gannets fold their wings just before striking the water and have been known to dive as deep as 30 feet under the water. If you see one gannet diving, you are likely to see more as the activity attracts others to the schools of fish that have been discovered. Variations between adult and immature plumage explain the different colored birds that we saw off Rehoboth's Boardwalk. Some of the birds - the adults - were strikingly white with black wing patches. Others that were diving were darker with white marking underneath. Those are the young birds that don't reach full nesting plumage until they are five years old. People interested in learning more about these spectacular win- ter visitors moving along our coast might want to look up Bryan Nelson's book called "The At- lantic Gannet." Apparently it's the defmitive work. Winter is no time to get stuck indoors. There's plenty happening out- side. Dive in! This photograph taken off the internet shows an adult northern gannet in the ocean off the coast of New Jersey. Name middle school for Frank Mercer I should like to comment on the letter tiffed "Name middle school after late Frank Mercer," in the Nov. 1-7 issue of the Cape Gazette. I moved in August 2002 to the Maple Grove, Minn. area to be near my daughter. I am living in an independent living apartment facility in an annex near my son- in-law and daughter, Emilie. I previously owned and occu- pied a home in DeVries Circle in Lewes, and reared two daughters and a son who were in the Lewes School while Frank Mercer served that school. My son gradu- ated the year consolidation took place. Unfortunately, he was nev- er in the new Cape Henlopen building. However his daughter was a student and graduated there in 2002. I would like to support Dr. Gary Wray's views concerning one of the new middle schools to be con- sidered to be named for Frank Mercer. I attended some of the meetings held by Mr. Mercer in preparing the three districts - Lewes, Rehoboth and Milton - to consolidate into one school dis- trict, and I am aware that it was a difficult task, well accomplished to guide the consolidation into the Cape Henlopen School District. I served 10 years as school sec- retary, and as a person back in the 1920s, graduating in 1929, I know quite a lot about the responsibili- ties of school administration. Geneva P. Morris Maple Grove, Minn. Dennis Forney Seven reasons for Rehoboth downzoning I wish to summarize the seven reasons why I support the Plan- ning Commission and urge the Rehoboth City Commissioners to rezone from commercial to resi- dential the ten lots at the north- western end of tree-lined Colum- bia Avenue to match its decades- long use. The democratic process set in law for this zoning clange began in 1996, more than six years ago, when the Planning Commission, as part of its respon- sibility to formulate a Compre- hensive Long Range Plan for the City of Rehoboth, began a review of those properties that are resi- dential in use but commercial in zoning. Since theia there have been public information sessions and public hearings with ample notice addressing the issue of re- zoning from commercial to resi- dential. The Planning Commis- sion has reached a thoughtful con- clusion and made its recommen- dation, as required by statute, in its current Comprehensive Devel- opment Plan. I submit the follow- ing seven reasons in support of the proposal to rezone to residen- tial the northwestern end of Co- lumbia Avenue to match its long- term use. First: The ten lots proposed to be zoned residential at the north- western end of Columbia Avenue have been used as residential for decades. Although some proper- ties may have lain dormant for some time, all have experienced the same increase in value as all residential properties in the Pines and in all of Rehoboth. The resi- dential use of these ten lots has been consistent with all the prop- erties on the north side of Colum- bia Avenue stretching to the beach even though the ten lots on the western end have rested quietly under commercial zoning. The Planning Commission addressed this situation beginning in 1996. Second: The southwest end of Columbia Avenue is zoned com- mercial and has been commercial in use - the small Printz Motel, the Royal Farms building, and Bruce's Hair Salon. Those com- mercial buildings back up to com- mercial buildings on Rehoboth Avenue. If commercial buildings were to be built on the residential lots across the street on the north side of Columbia Avenue, those commercial buildings, with less restrictive setbacks and floor- area-to-lot-size ratios, would back directly up against residences in a long-established, old residential neighborhood, Such c0mmerciiI buildings have no place in a resi- dential neighborhood. The street of Columbia Avenue provides the appropriate dividing line between commercial use and residential use, and allowing commercial use on the northwest side would fun- damentally change both the na- ture and the use of this area for Rehoboth's future. Third: Tree-lined Columbia Av- enue has always been a beautiful entry to the Pines and to Re- hoboth. , traffic circle has now been authorized to recognize and deal appropriately with the mix of uses at this entry to our city. Clearly neither city commission- ers nor residents have contemplat- ed the addition of a hotel, an apartment building, an office building, bank, restaurant or other commercial center at this key point of entry for'our City. The in- tended benefit of the traffic circle - smooth, safe, quiet movement of vehicles and pedestrians at the en- trance to our City - would be negated should the city be faced with an additional commercial area. Fourth: Commercial develop- ment of these lots with its added density, traffic, safety issues, and visual impact would fundamental- ly change not only the quality of this entry into the City but also would impact the use and enjoy- ment of Shaw Park. Shaw Park ha proven to be one of the wisest decisions made in recent years by our city's leaders, when they con- verted a trailer park which had been diminishing in use into a beautiful public park which is ful- ly utilized by local families, visi- tors, running clubs, and other recreational groups next to the canal at the entryway to our city. Why would we now want to sur- render all of these gains by allow- ing properties long residential in use to be turned into a commer- cial center across from Shaw Park, a city gem? Fifth: There is recent precedent for the downzoning from com- mercial to residential in the St. Michael's Place section of the Pines, only blocks away from the subject ten lots on Columbia Av- enue. When the Epworth Church about eight years ago wanted to sell some of its cemetery land zoned commercial in a long-es- tablished residential neighbor- hood, the neighbors appealed to the city commissioners to rezone the area residential to match the residential status of the neighbor- hood. Such downzoning was ac- complished by ordinance, and the area was developed by the pur- chaser of the -land with beautiful single-family residences in keep- ing with the neighborhood. The city commissioners acted for the benefit of the area and the city as a whole, in keeping with the stat- ed goal of maintaining residential use in those areas which are clear- ly residential. Sixth: There is precedent in law for downzoning from commercial to residential. Two Delaware Supreme Court cases, Willdel Re- ally (281 A2d 612) and Shelburne Inc. (224 A2d 250), uphold the commissioners' right to down- zone from commercial to residen- tial. In one case a building permit for construction of a commercial building had already been applied for and granted. The court found that such downzoning from com- mercial to residential was appro- priate and legal. Our city commis- sioners have taken such actions in the past and several of them have campaigned on maintaining the residential character of Rehoboth. This current decision for rezoning to residential is, I believe, a meas- ure of their willingness to act on promises. Seventh: Much has been said about property rights and the rights of landowners, particularly by owners of the five lots who seem to want to develop the land commercially after years of resi- dential use. The rights of property owners do not begin and end with the rights of those who own an in- dividual piece of property subject to local laws. Every property owner in Rehoboth Beach is af- fected by the decisions of our lo- Continued on page 8 CAPE GAZETTE, leridLa, De.,,,tk, e.12;2e0,2 --7 How about those large northern visitors plunging into the water along our coast Have you seen the Booby birds - big and white and plunging - working along our coast lately? Most people know them as gan- nets, but according to the Audubon Society's Field Book, gannets are the only northern member of the Booby family. The book also identifies gannets as a strictly maritime species and "one of the most spectacular birds." We should feel privileged that these birds - known for their nest- ing habits in the north Atlantic in a wide'arc from eastern Canada to Norway - have been putting on a feeding display for us as they move into their wintering waters. We first noticed them on Thanksgiving Day while walking Rehoboth's Boardwalk as a dinner appetizer. Their diving and their size - as big as a goose - caught our attention. They weren't cor- morants. Cormorants dive from the surface of the water. These birds were diving from 40 and 50 feet up. They were also more col- orful than cormorants which are uniformly dark. And they weren't pelicans, though they were diving like pelicans. Pelicans don't usu- ally stay around this late in the year and they didn't have the peli- carl's distintive head and pouched bill. So what were they? We watched them working the whole length of the Boardwalk, not much more than 100 yards out. On Friday, we saw the same birds while we were walking on the Ocean City Boardwalk. This week, Catherine Tanzer - another avid birder - reported she saw some of the same birds working the Delaware Bay waters off Lewes Beach. Tune for the books and the internet. Gannets came out as the clear choice. Though they nest in the arc at the top of the North At- lantic, they winter along the At- lantic coast south to Florida. Here's what the Audubon guide says: "During migrations they may be observed offshore, either gliding above the water or diving into the sea after fish, sometimes plunging headlong from heights as great as 50 feet or more. A remarkable system of interconnected air sacs under the skin of the breast serves as a cushion to protect the bird BAREF00TIN' from the shock of striking the wa- ter. A trip to the the breeding colony on Bonaventure Island, off the Gasp6 Peninsula, Quebec, yields one of the great sights in the bird world: over 15,000 pairs of gannets incubating, brooding their young, or searching for food. Gannets, like other members of the Booby family, take part in an elaborate series of displays." Information from the internet reveals that gannets, once they are away from their breeding colonies - such as this time of the year - never rest on land. Like feeding pelicans, gannets fold their wings just before striking the water and have been known to dive as deep as 30 feet under the water. If you see one gannet diving, you are likely to see more as the activity attracts others to the schools of fish that have been discovered. Variations between adult and immature plumage explain the different colored birds that we saw off Rehoboth's Boardwalk. Some of the birds - the adults - were strikingly white with black wing patches. Others that were diving were darker with white marking underneath. Those are the young birds that don't reach full nesting plumage until they are five years old. People interested in learning more about these spectacular win- ter visitors moving along our coast might want to look up Bryan Nelson's book called "The At- lantic Gannet." Apparently it's the defmitive work. Winter is no time to get stuck indoors. There's plenty happening out- side. Dive in! This photograph taken off the internet shows an adult northern gannet in the ocean off the coast of New Jersey.