Archive for October, 2009

Photo of the week

October 30, 2009
DSC_0804

Reflecting on what to do next.

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Better ways to get to the beach – maybe

October 30, 2009

Sussex County Councilman Sam Wilson was the first to stand up and ask a question, or make a statement, following the talk by Delaware Economic Development Office Secretary Alan Levin Wednesday, Oct. 28, during the 16th annual Today and Tomorrow Conference at Delaware Tech College.

Levin spent several minutes during his speech talking about the importance of tourism, especially to Sussex County. His office has expanded staff and efforts to promote tourism.

Wilson, who sometimes looks at issues from a different perspective, said that perhaps the county could not handle an increase in tourism because of the lack of infrastructure – mainly roads.

Levin agreed with Wilson’s take on the problems with roads. “Delaware needs better infrastructure, but the only way to do that is to build on the tax base,” Levin said. “We are exploring other ways to get people to the beaches.”

He’s talking about new and improved mass transit. One of those ways is by train, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done.

Levin said the rail lines south of Dover are antiquated and there are still some manual switches being used that date back more than 75 years.

Levin also had a word or two of caution for everyone looking ahead to the next state budget year. Even though there are a few signs of economic recovery, the state’s financial picture will not improve next year. “The easy cuts were last year; now we are faced with the painful cuts,” he said.

Quote of the Year

October 27, 2009

“Anytime government doesn’t meet is a good day.”

– Sussex County Councilman George Cole

Photo of the week.

October 27, 2009
DSC_0159

Long may she wave.

So, you want to be a developer

October 27, 2009

Developers are a rare breed. They are almost like a secret society. It’s not like they show up at job fairs or will be one of the highlights at little Johnny’s career day in grade school.

 

Most developers probably don’t grow up wanting to be one. It seems that the trade is passed down from father to son. You don’t go to college and take development 101.

 

Many people conjure up Satan with a pitchfork when they are asked to describe a developer, but that is really not fair. Most people owe their peace of mind to developers because they live in a community that is a development. Even those who live in town are in a neighborhood that at one time was someone’s dream as a development.

 

For decades developers went about their work of buying land and putting together commercial or housing projects without a lot of notice. That is not the case today. Developers, who try to remain in the shadows, are becoming a little more high profile, as development becomes a hot topic.

 

Not all developers are major developers who build 500-unit housing projects; some are small-time developers who build four-house subdivisions. For some it may be a one-time deal, and for others it’s a lifetime investment that becomes a family business that branches into other ventures.

 

Many big-time developers who have financial resources to begin with become very rich. Their names become very well known in the community – Schell, Tunnell, Freeman – and they tend to give back to the community in big ways.
Money is the foundation of all developments, because it takes a lot of it to make one happen. The multitude of county, state and sometimes federal regulations that require permits all have a price tag attached. It seems everyone has his or her hands out.

 

The other component of development is time. Years pass from the time a developer comes up with a great idea for a piece of land until the first shovel of dirt is turned over.

 

To reach that point, you have to convince nine men and one lady who sit on the county planning and zoning commission and county council that your project will not be the one that tips the scales and makes it impossible for everyone else to live in the area. For some developments, you only need to convince the five members of planning and zoning.

 

You will also have to hire some experts to help you convince those county officials and you will have to endure the scrutiny of your neighbors who want the drawbridge pulled up.

 

If your development is large enough, you will have to take your dog and pony show to Dover and convince a roomful of state officials that you know what you are talking about.

 

Because some developers have taken short cuts and caused hardships for the people who live in their communities, people have come to distrust most developers. And with the current trend of NIMBY permeating throughout the area, it’s harder and harder for developers to move a dream to a reality.

 

But if you are a gambler, the odds are still in your favor your development will get approved. The vast majority of developments in the county are approved. Some are modified and then approved, but it’s rare that one is turned down.

 

It does happen, so you have to be prepared that all of your work and the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars invested may go down the drain. But then again, there is always court, and a few more thousand dollars.

Photo of the week

October 16, 2009
The new Sussex County lineman.

The new Sussex County lineman.

Don’t go out without the proper clothing

October 14, 2009

Do you think attorneys and county officials are not aware of the community debate swirling around them as they decide the controversial LT Associates’ rezoning application for the Village Centre in Lewes?

During a recent discussion at a planning and zoning meeting that had nothing to do with Village Centre, attorney Dennis Schrader, who represents LT Associates, casually mentioned something about deer stands that should be removed from a property he represents.

One of the commissioners warned him, since he was an attorney, that it would be prudent for him to wear something bright orange if he went out in the woods to complete the mission himself.

Schrader, who is quick on the draw, fired back that he wished he had camouflage clothing to wear during a couple of recent long nights spent in council chambers.

“No, that’s what you need walking the streets of Lewes,” fired back Commission Chairman Robert Wheatley.

Someone added that he should probably wear Kevlar underneath as well.