Something I agree with the Republicans; we are over regulated, some regulations go too far, unfortunately if people would abide by the rules, regulations would not have to be made to make sure we follow the rules. A lot of regulations are catch 21’s.

If industry didn’t pollute to the extreme maybe they wouldn’t be so regulated; because they don’ regulate themselves, they are. They say over regulating is costing Americans jobs, so they go overseas where they can pollute.

The building industry is another area that drives the economy; new housing begets furniture, appliances, carpet, down to the toilet paper which begets trucks, tires, ll with add up to more employees, more expendable money which hits everyone’s cash register.

Unfortunately there are bad contractors regulations have to be made to take care of the few bad apples. Skipping on materials, shabby work, thus a building code, developers not properly doing infrastructure, thus permits, developers walking away from projects not completing the infrastructure such as roads or completing the houses, thus a bond to guarantee the work is completed even if it has to be done by others.

These rules were made to protect the consumer; a home is where the bulk of our wealth lies; too many horror stories about those who invested their life savings only to find out they lost it all. We depend upon our elected officials to pass and enforce these laws; we have no lobbyist to fight for us.

For two decades the Sussex County Council has been labeled as pro-development approving the most developments in the history of the county and oversaw the largest building boom and population growth during that time.  Although at times I think they approved too much, as proven by the building bust, they did put in safe guards to protect the consumer; permits, inspections, and bonds for those developers who decided to take a hike.

It was a fair relationship; council looked out for the contractors and developers; they looked out for the council at election time.

Now that the power of the council has changed hands the contractors and developers are asking for more concessions which are diluting the protection of the consumer.

Permits are given with a time limit, enough time for the development to happen, some can be extended then they cease and the developer has to begin the process all over in case; regulations change, and so the developer starts anew; an expensive ordeal.

A lot of approved sub-divisions did not get started and their permits elapsed. They boo-hooed telling Council if they didn’t have to go through the expensive and time-consuming permit process they would go back to building, put people back to work and spur the economy. Council bought it hook, line, and sinker, instead of taking the developers case by case it was approval across the board. This passed 3-2 with Democrat Joan Deaver and Republican George Cole voting against.

This was a nearly a year a year ago. I haven’t seen anymore trucks on the roads with building materials; why should they rush, they now have all the time in the world to begin again. Strike One!

Next the developers wanted the county to ease bond rules for those who can’t get credit they say because of new lending requirements saying they must have cash up front for the bonds. These bonds were part of the guarantee that the development would be completed.

The boo-hooing worked again; yesterday with a 4-1 vote with Joan Deaver D-Lewes voting against the ordinance introduced by Sam Wilson, developers with sufficient capital on hand could begin improvements such as sewer lines and roads and finish them on their own. Cole who reportedly is not seeking re-election, usually anti-development fell in line with his party.

Developers also could start work and then buy a bond later to guarantee their completion.

Work must be finished or a bond purchased before lots are sold. One Lewes resident protested the ordinance saying the county is using bond money to finish what his community’s developer couldn’t. This ordinance apparently is weaker than the current one being replaced. So much for public protection. Strike Two!

The bill has a two year ‘sunset’ in which it will be dropped. Strike Three coming in year two?

I believe the final strike three will be the further watering down of yesterday’s ordinance. The bond will disappear, the building permit will be given and developers will walk away and there will not be any money to finish the subdivision. Strike Three!

I can’t believe if a developer has cash to put in the infrastructure, which means he is a good businessman, that the banks won’t back him with bonding; it’s the ones with lousy credit and poor reputations that can’t get credit. This ordinance is for them.

Keep the election money coming guys if you want to see strike three against the consumers expanded.



  1. A couple of questions:
    1. How does extending the permit time hurt the residents of Sussex County–exactly what is the nature and extent of the injury?
    2. If lots can’t be sold without completing the improvements or posting a bond, how does waiving the bond requirement hurt the residents of Sussex County–exacty what is the nature and extent of the injury?

    • Couple of answers; Bob you’re putting a contractor/developer spin on the topic. Since you live in Laurel now, when you’re driving uptown, at the intersection of Willow and 4th, across the Cook House look at that building that the town has given upteen extensions; an eysore to the residents and community who try to keep up their property. People are given extensions, but unless there is a deadline they are abused.
      You better than I know the number of contractors/developers who have walked away from projects from Wilmington to Delmar and across the state. A bond makes sure that property/development is completed by someone. When I was aked to annex my stores at Calio’s Plaza, all my infrastructure was to be done by a developer not the town. I asked for a bond to cover expenses if I had to end up footing the bill. That was the end of the conversation.
      How many developments do you know of that was to provide a club house, swiming pool, and never was completed?

      • “Putting a contractor/developer spin”?? At least you were careful to add “contractor” as you know I’m not a developer by profession. The fact is that that there is no identifiabe injury to the residents of Sussex County in either case. The real life examples you cite are valid, but not analogous to this ordinance. This ordinance turns on the fact that lots cannot be sold until the improvements are done or a bond is posted–that is what makes it work. Without that provision it would be utterly unacceptable.

    • The Bldg industry in sussex county in my experience was a complete and total “buyer beware seRnario”. Many people including myself where promise things by the builder that never happened. I guess Delaware reputation of being a honest state was used and abused by the contractors. When I had my home built I didn’t heed the advise of people such as my real estate broker who warned me about the tricks used on the home owners.
      you see I believed if I was told It would be fixed after moving in that it would be.
      lie, took years to resolve many of the items. Do you know that sussex county uses a national bldg code. I was told as long as its in the NAT CODE it was in code.
      (ie they put the pipes for the water lines above the rafters upstais and they froze,
      why because they didn’t have to insulate the pipes. This was from a No Carolina code ? I could go on but I won’t. I am 10 years older and smarter.
      Just remember BUYER beware,

      • The county has an outside contractor to do building inspections. Someone dropped the ball assuming you live in the county and not a municipality. My daughter was an inspector with the county when they hired their own and also with the town of Laurel. Some contractors will skimp if they can.

  2. I do agree with the extension- all it does is reduce legal hurdles to get an approved development started. i agree with Bob -no harm to anyone. And yes it has gotten very difficult to get these projects moving due to all the issues over the past several years. if saving some legal helps, I am all for it. Yes that is a bankers perspective (thought I would say that before you)

    • Banker Jack let me ask you. Would you give money for a bond to a dead beat contractor/developer or one who could show you decent financial records. What this new ordiance does is allow the dead beats to move on and still leave the project. What’s the penalty for walking away from a development or building? Nothing. Heck many banks won’t give an honest working person a home construction loan, but you risk giving out loans to some jackass because you’re afraid you’ll lose their business. I’m so damn tired of the honest guy being crapped on. Some flashy guy comes in from Washington, NY, dumps $100,000 in your bank with promises of much more where that came from and you guys fall all over him thinking you hit the lottery. Some local yocal working his butt off can’t get $500 to fix his car so he can get to work. You tell them to use a credit card, which he either doesn’t have or it’s maxed out, but he pays his bills and he ain’t going anywhere. Your response; typical Republican love the big guy, screw the little guy.

      • You may be talking to the banking industry- but that won’t fly with me. There is a ton of local bankers that care about the little guys. Maybe the big banks think that way, but bankers that live here, worship here and plan on retiring here have made careers dealing with local folk. Bankers that care about their communities normally are the ones that are successful long term. Since yu are the flashiest guy i know, i guess i don’t get out much.

  3. Perfect example is Manchester Manor on Chipman’s Pond Rd. Ask anyone who bought a lot when it was first started, with all its restrictions and grand plan. Those that invested in lots to build nice homes, then or in the future, must be sick when it went bust. Remaining lots were sold at auction for a fraction of what original buyers paid.

    The financing was done by K Bank from the Baltimore area. (K Bank was taken over by the Feds on a Friday evening at the close of business in Dec. 2010) Now Manchester Manor is a development of FHA & Habitat houses.

    And why in the world did the county council even (formerly) consider giving one of the biggest delinquent county tax(payers) a permit to build a giant “John Deere Community” ? I guess it just depends on who you have in your pocket.

  4. Jack won’t get into it, just heard from a local banker who said their bank didn’t do construction loans but would finance a house after you built it. I know that burns your britches.
    Don’t you know by now I do my homework before I write and risk being eaten alive by you?

  5. Rule # 1 for Frank’s blog — Frank always wins the debate.

    1a – by using his facts
    1b – by ignoring your facts
    1c – by moving on to the next subject

    • Bob I learned that as a young kid when I was like you writing letters to the editor; they did exactly as you said. So, I decided to write as a columnist and then add my blog so I culd be like the Frank Sinatra song, “Have it my way”. Just remember those rules you just posted when you comment on my writings; just so you understand. Have a good one. Coming up anytime soon?
      Oh, was that multiple choice or all of the above. You could start your own blog and be just like me.

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