You’d Better Watch Out, You’d Better Beware…Sea Level Rise is coming to town

Just yesterday the Sea Level Rise (SLR) Advisory Committee came out with its updated report, suggesting Delaware could have between 1.6-4.9 feet of sea level rise on Delaware’s shores by the end of this century. At those predictions most of Sussex and eastern Kent County will be underwater. Needless to say, the amount of flooding “expected” will impact property owners and businesspeople downstate. Here are some of the comments submitted by the committee. Ones of particular note are in bold.

“Sussex County seems to be extremely backwards, with little ideas about science”

“Sussex County Council is an ignorant bunch. The Council… has never met a developer it doesn’t like”.

“Wait to see what happens” and “How will you implement retreat?” and “How much brainwashing do we need?” (thoughts on who would have said this)
Very Worried about insurance, both homeowner policy and FEMA”

“Local communities are essential in supporting anything you (state government) try to do. Getting them to support any initiatives is key.”

“SLR Statements included in all property sales/leases.”

“Signage in high risk areas and outreach!”

“1% hotel tax on tourism. Carbon tax is most fair.”

“Make sure someone from Sussex County Tourism is on the Advisory Committee…to combat the tears that will emerge from this discussion.”

“Giving DNREC authority to regulate development with a 100 year flood plan”

“New authority for DNREC to…manage…new lands”

“Developers should pay through permit/consultation fees”

“Provide timely consultation, set permit fees high enough especially for business/developers to sustain program.”

“I do not see much private sector involvement”

“This (SLR) seems like an insurable risk. Can a public insurance pool be set up, funded from land taxes and development permits?”

“To whom does the SLR committee report (good question)? I suggest either the governor or the committee of the state legislature.”

one committeemenber proposed a package of tax increases with more local control over how SLR actions are handled and paid for.

“We need to restrict development in sensitive areas before they start,

“I think it is only honest and fair to warn new homebuyer’s of the property’s potential future vulnerability. The potential future risk of sea level rise should be disclosed in the Delaware seller’s disclosure of real property condition report.”

“SLR predictions should be figured into…business development plans.”

“prohibit development in areas that will be flooding with SLR.”

“providing as much technical resources to businesses, industries. Land management is a critical role for the state.”

“I don’t believe public money should be used for replenishment of private beaches.”

One partially illegible comment suggested better engineering of dikes.

“Partnerships with consultants should be included. Consultants offer a wealth of expertise.”

“Most presentations suggest SLR is coming or just arrived.  Show people what damage it has caused over the past 100 years.”

“County ordinances which take care of land use in unincorporated areas.”

“Provide SLR planning to local governments…especially target Wilmington.”

“It would be helpful to have a cost estimate: Abandon, buyout, move. With some rough dollar number for the extreme we can evaluate other plans.”

The question is, what does all of this mean? From these statements, which are full quotes from unidentified names (blacked out in the document), there is a pattern which emerges: the government, possibly DNREC, should be allowed to levy taxes on landowners and land developers in Sussex County to pay for the sea level rise actions. Landowners in all three counties, but especially in Sussex and parts of Kent, will need to advise potential buyers that the property is in a “flood zone”-and the government should have the ability to either tell the potential buyers or make the landowners do so. The next step then is to decide how badly “SLR” will “devastate” Delaware’s shoreline.

Next week we will show more information obtained from these documents and explain what it means to you.

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