Network Delaware petitions for more community involvement in Coastal Zone redevelopment process
Community empowerment group Network Delaware is asking Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to give residents a bigger voice as the state talks redevelopment in Delaware’s Coastal Zone.
DNREC will hold two public workshops at the end of November to discuss the redevelopment of heavy industrial sites along the Delaware River. But Network Delaware says they want more involvement than that, and launched a petition last week asking the state to hold more meetings accessible to people who live near heavy industry along the Delaware River.
“They’re not getting to voice their concerns about what this process is going to look like, what’s the emergency response going to be for a spill or catastrophic events? What financial insurances are going to be there for things that affect them, how’s the air quality monitoring going to be?” said Network Delaware's Health and Environmental Pillar Co-coordinator Jordyn Pusey.
Pusey says two meetings with what she called "short notice," isn’t enough, and she worries the state isn’t allowing people who live close to the industrial sites to have a voice.
“If they bump out heavy industry even more into those areas, you’re just going to keep relocating people out of their homes and cutting that line of history,” Pusey said.
The petition has garnered more than 80 signatures so far. Pusey said they’ll formally submit it to the state mid-December.
DNREC hired a third party consultant earlier this month to hold interviews with environmental groups, government officials and members of the business community.
Stephanie Herron, the volunteer and outreach coordinator for Delaware’s chapter of the Sierra Club, said the consultant asked interviewees what they see in the implementation of a committee that could work out the details on regulations for development in the Coastal Zone.
But the list of stakeholders did not include health officials or residents, which Herron said concerned her.
“People who live next to the sites have everything to lose if there is an emergency at one of the sites or if there is a mistake made potentially,” Herron said. “They should be at the forefront of people who they are consulting and whose concerns we are considering when we’re talking about polluting land-uses on grandfathered sites.”
DNREC is expected to draft regulations for how 14 heavy industrial sites can be developed in the Coastal Zone before Oct. 1, 2019.