There has been some talk lately about SB64. This may be the first time that you are hearing about this bill. But it could affect every property owner in the state of Delaware.
The long title for the bill is;
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 7 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO FLOODPLAIN AND DRAINAGE STANDARDS, WETLANDS AND SUBAQUEOUS LANDS.
The synopsis of the bill is;
This legislation authorizes the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to adopt guidance and minimum standards to minimize risk from flooding with the input from a stakeholder advisory group. Such standards or equivalent standards shall subsequently be adopted by local governments to the extent that existing requirements do not meet the minimum standards established under this legislation. The legislation also authorizes the DNREC Secretary to waive regulatory requirements of the Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Regulations to protect public health and safety and to prevent catastrophic damage to property.
As you can see what this bill is intended to do, is to take away local control from local governments. And to give it to the secretary of DNREC.
I have pointed out in the past my concern for giving such powers to an agency that has no oversight from the legislative branch. The regulations that come from DNREC are beyond the scope of a representative form of government. As more and more power is ceded to DNREC, this agency is becoming autonomous, with the power to effect policies that have far-reaching consequences on the personal and economic well-being of the state of Delaware. And this agency does this with no accountability to the citizens of the state.
SB64 instructs the Secretary to take into consideration national standards in compiling the minimum requirements for Delaware. It then mandates that all local governments adopt these standards.
So not only will New Castle County have to meet the same standards that Sussex and Kent Counties will have to meet. But the entire state of Delaware may have to meet the standards of say New Orleans.
If this is not troubling enough. The wording in the bill that says: ” that those who build in and occupy special flood hazard areas should assume responsibility for their actions; minimize the impact of development on adjacent properties within and near flood prone areas; provide that the flood storage and conveyance functions of the floodplain are maintained; minimize the impact of development on the natural and beneficial functions of the floodplain; prevent floodplain uses that are either hazardous or environmentally incompatible; and improve drainage standards to reduce threats to community welfare. “, would seem to give DNREC an unlimited authority to mandate to all property owners that they follow these minimum standards.
This would seem to include existing property, not just new developement. This will have a negative effect on every farmer and land owner in the state. This would seem to give DNREC the authority to review and mandate changes and upgrade drainage on all properties.
It would seem as if those in the General Assembly who favor SB64 believe that all areas of the state, and even areas of the nation have identical flooding issues. They seem to think that Rehoboth and Wilmington have the same drainage needs. That even Seaford should meet the standards of New Orleans. Maybe we should be required to build levees around Trap Pond!
Since it is clear to any right thinking citizen of this state, that a flood in Bethany Beach will have no effect on New Castle, or even an effect on Dagsboro. Why should they all be required to meet the same minimum standards. There are different levels of risk. These are best met by local governments making decisions based upon history of the areas and based on the demand of the local citizenry.
I encourage everyone to contact their state Senator and Representative and demand that SB64 be voted down. If this state and this nation are to maintain its history of a representative form of government, then we must defeat these attempts to cede power to agencies and bureaucracies.
Here is a link to the entire bill.