My husband and I have been watching the windmill controversy in your pages over the past few weeks with interest and concern. We would like to add our two cents’ worth. My family and I have been “attached” to Lewes for 40 years (and own two houses in town). I believe the wind turbine is out of place in the serene, environmentally sensitive open space bounded by the Great Marsh. It sticks out like a mechanical sore thumb. But there are also questions of due process.
Aesthetics aside, let me pose the following situation. Ten property owners who live adjacent to the 66 acres of open space the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control leased to the city off New Road create a corporation of which they are the sole shareholders. This corporation negotiates a deal with a producer of solar panels to create Good Deal Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) to operate a utility which is owned by the corporation and solar panel producer.
A deal is negotiated with the city and DNREC allowing it to build a solar array (or a half dozen windmills?) on the 66 acres of open space as long as some research is conducted.
The city charges Good Deal a building permit fee only for the construction costs, exempting the costs of the panels, and assessing the LLC no realty transfer tax. The LLC then sells the 10 property owners electricity at a below-market rate and excess electricity to the city. At the same time, the LLC collects federal energy tax credits. The LLC’s profits are distributed to the 10 property owners and the maker of the solar panels with the Delaware taxpayer receiving nothing in return.
Would the Cape Gazette and Lewes taxpayers endorse such official chicanery? That seems to be the situation described in Mr. Lechliter’s complaint and exhibits – the memorandums of understanding and agreement of DNREC and city, respectively, with the university, the feasibility study for the turbine, and official emails.
And as for the poor fellow (in last week’s Gazette, who went to bed (figuratively) in his nice restful, out-of-the-way home, and woke up the next day to the windmill next door, that surely is an example of a Fifth Amendment taking of private property for “public” use, isn’t it?
Citizens of Lewes should congratulate Mr. Lechliter for his unflinching efforts to protect the public interest.
Elly and Stan Sienkiewicz
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