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Process starts for new development in Delaware's Coastal Zone

Delaware Public Media

Some environmentalists say they hope for plenty of opportunities to weigh in on regulations for new permits in Delaware’s Coastal Zone.

State officials announced this week they’ve started working on regulations to allow development of new, heavy industry in Delaware’s Coastal Zone.

Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn Garvin signed a notice last month that officially starts the process to open up 14 heavy industry sites for use in the Coastal Zone.

“DNREC is committed to developing the regulations governing Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act Conversion Permit in a transparent manner that facilitates and encourages public input and involvement,” Garvin said.

The state is establishing a committee to draft regulations, drawing on a wide representation of businesses and environmental groups to do so.

Stephanie Herron, the volunteer and outreach coordinator for the Delaware chapter of the Sierra Club, says she wants the state to hold discussions with communities near the 14 sites now eligible for heavy industry permits. 

“The communities living near those sites are going to be most affected by the changes to the Coastal Zone Act, so those communities need to be directly engaged in this process to make sure their interests are being protected,” Herron said.

Herron says she worries residents would be particularly impacted by “any pollution created by disturbing those sites or from a new industry that were to locate there.”

Matt Sarver, the conservation chair for the Delmarva Ornithological Society, says he welcomes the transparency DNREC promises in developing the regulations. But the new law has provisions for approving permits before the rules are finalized, and he wonders how that will work.

“There’s really no assurance there as to what that’s going to look like and I think that’s very concerning,” Sarver said.

The state is required to put regulations in place to issue site conversion permits by Oct. 1, 2019.

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