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September 2, 1994     Cape Gazette
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September 2, 1994

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4 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, September 2 - September 8, 1994 Mobile Home Tenants Assoc. regroups under new leadership By Steve Hoenigmann The Sussex County Mobile Home Tenants Association has accepted the resignations of acting president Jim Reed and act- ing treasurer Ralph Nib- lick, and at a general mem- bership meet- ing Saturday, Aug. 27, in- troduced a new slate of interim offi- REED cers who will serve until elections are held in October. Jack Kilner, formerly vice pres- ident of the organization, moved up as interim president. Other in- terim officers include Doris Lauer as vice presi- dent; Gerri Courtney as secretary; and Dave Blyth as treasurer. Patrick Joyce remains as chairman of the executive board. KILNER The change in leadership bccurred some time after an Aug. 6 meeting of the executive board where leadership of the struggling organization was a hot topic. In recent months personality conflicts had developed in the leadership ranks of the organiza- tion, which is struggling to get back on its feet to become more politically involved and to resolve a $19,300 debt owed to Rehoboth Beach attorney Bill Moore. Moore defended the Association and former president Ron Beide- man in a SLAPP (strategic litiga- tion against public participation) lawsuit filed by a Long Neck mo- bile home park owner - a lawsuit that ended in a "wash," with nei- ther side winning. "They [Jim Reed and Ralph Niblick] didn't interpret the rules and regulations the same way the rest of the executive board did," said Kilner. "Jim felt he could make some decisions without the approval of the executive board, and our rules and regulations specify that the entire board be in on any decision. "Don't get me wrong," Kilner continued. "Jim came in a took the president's job when this As- sociation was fiat on its face and he got it going again. He did a great job. He resigned because he felt there was a conflict. And Ralph, I think, resigned out of loy- alty to Jim." Reed could not be reached for comment. At the Aug. 6 executive board meeting, board members also ap- proved the appointment the Dick Hannam to serve as advisor to the Association. Hannam would have no vote in Association business, but would be available to provide his expertise and information on issues and developments in the mobile home industry. He was a former officer with the Delaware Mobile Home Tenants Associa- tion (now inactive), and more re- cently served as a member of the state-appointed Mobile Home Study Committee. Hannam re- signed from that committee in protest earlier this year, citing, among other issues, that mobile home tenant interests were poorly represented on the committee,- whose task it was to make recom- mendations on changes in the laws governing the contractual re- lationship between mobile home park tenants and their landlords. In a development last week, the full Mobile Home Study Commit- tee met in Dover on Monday to compile the final recommenda- tions it will present in the form of legislation to the Delaware Gener- al Assembly when in reconvenes in January. Hannam told about 50 members in attendance last Satur- day that it was very important that the Association follow the progress of that legislative pro- posal and to maintain close con- tact with their state representa- tives. In other business: The next general membership meeting of the Association will take place on Saturday, Oct. 22, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Angola Estates clubhouse. The election of a new slate of officers will be conducted at that time. In addi- tion, Patrick Joyce said the Asso- ciation is planning to invite the two Attorney General candidates to the meeting for a public forum. Details have yet to be finalized. Gerri Courtney, chairman of the Association's debt resolution committee, reported that fund- raising efforts - a beef and beer and line dance event and hoagie sale - netted a little more than $1,500, and that a check for $1,500 had been forwarded to Moore, leaving the Association with a balance of $1.7,800 to be paid. Courtney urged Association merffbers to come up with ideas that would help raise funds to re- solve the debt. "This is a credibil- ity issue," she said. "We need to keep this organization vibrant and alive, and we can't do that with this debt hanging over our heads." Patrick Joyce reported that an information network will soon be established between the Associa- tion and member parks. He added that he 'also intends to send newsletters to non-member parks in a effort to boost membership. There are 137 mobile home parks in Sussex County, and in the As- sociation's heyday, 45 of those parks were members of the Asso- ciation. Sussex shuts door on housing plan No to zoning request for Five Points area By Denise M. Marshall Citing concerns over escalating density in farm areas, Sussex County Council on Tuesday nar- rowly rejected plans by the Delaware State Housing Authori- ty to construct low,income hous- ing units on 19.5 acres along Sus. sex 285 near Five Points. "We're disappointedthat the zoning was turned down," stated Cynthia Marshall, chief of com- munity relations for the housing authority. "We're just concerned about the drastic need in that area for families that are homeless and for families, that are living in sub- standard housing." According to the housing au- thority, there are 105 families in the Milton and Lewes areas on the authorigy's waiting list for public housing. Marshall said the authority has no plans to appeal council's deci- sion. The housing authority may still move forward with plans to purchase the property and opt to use it for another public housing project, she said. Council's action was embraced by residents of Gosling Creek, a single-family home subdivision which abuts the project site. Dur- ing public hearings on the housing authority's proposal, Gosling Creek property owners expressed concerns that the proposed project would set a precedent for higher density, negatively impact sur- rounding property values, intensi- fy pressure to develop nearby farmland, and possibly increase crime in the area. "My clients, Gosling Creek homeowners and the board, have methodically, practically, legally and politically opposed the Delaware State Housing Authori- ty projecL" Georgetown attorney Robert V. Witsil Jr. said after the vote. "On behalf of my clients, I am very pleased with the coun- cil's decision." Council voted 2-2 on the change of zoning, which would have doubled the allowable densi- ty for the site. Although the housing authority proposed to construct 80 low-in- come housing units on the site, Sussex County Administrator Robert L. Stickels presented council with a scaled-down plan that capped the number of units to 50 and tacked on more than a dozen stipulations. The proposal, which was developed by Stickels and County Planning Director Lawrence B. Lank, failed to win the majority support of council. "The change of zone I feel would set a precedent," Council- man George B. Cole said. "Bigger is not better and therefore the size of the project concerns me." Councilman Cole, along with Councilman William D. Steven- son Sr., voted against the rezon- ing. Councilman Ralph E. Ben- son, who represents the area in which .the project site is located, abstained from the vote due to a conflict of interest. Councilman Benson rents farmland from the project site?s owner, Halsey Knapp. Council President Dale R. Dukes and Councilman George J. Collins supported the rezoning ap- plication with the stipulations pre- sented by Stickels. Those condi- tions would have prohibited the authority from placing any homes or parking spaces within 500 feet of the rear property line and with- in 50 feet of the side and front property lines. Under Stickels' Sussex County Administrator Robert L. Stickels presents County Council with a watered-down plan for 50 low-income housing units on 19.5 acres located along Sussex 285 near Five Points. Council rejected the Delaware State Housing Authori- ty's rezoning application with a 2-2 vote on Tuesday, Aug. 30. proposal, more than half of the site would have remained as open space. "Now they can build right up to the property line," President Dukes said. Without the rezoning, the hous- ing authority can construct 39 sin- gle-family units on the site. After rejecting the rezoning ap- plication, council voted 0-4 to de- ny the housing authority's request for a conditional use for 80 multi- family units and a community center. Council rejected the condi- tional use request since it would have required the change of zone from agricultural residential to medium density residential. The county's Planning and Zon- ing Commission had recommend- ed that council deny the zoning applications. The commission maintained that single-family de- tached subdivisions would be more compatible to the develop- ment trends of the area. Under the modified plan pre- sented by Stickels, the project would have been built at a density of about 2.5 units per acre. Gosling Creek has a density of about two units per acre, and the nearby Plantations housing com- plex is being developed at about four units per acre.