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October 4, 2010     Cape Gazette
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October 4, 2010
 

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16 FRIDAY, OCTOBER 1- MONDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2010 " NEWS cape Gazette Two measures held for clarification By Rob Kunzig rkunzig@capegazette.com Sussex County planners and residents have long sparred over how the county should regulate its manufactured homes. When the planning commission con- sidered four new ordinances to regulate manufactured homes at the Thursday, Sept. 23 hearing, the public appeared content - mostly. Lawrence Lank, planning and zoning director, said he saw sev- eral familiar faces among the dozen or so who attended the hearing. Many were veterans of an ad hoc committee set up to gather public opinion and make recommendations that would lead to new ordinances. "It was actually pretty reason- able, I thought," he said. "Some of the concerns seemed to be ad- dressed. Tlaere are a few things we need to clarify." Dixie Boucher, a representa- tive of the Delaware Manufac- tured Home Owners Association (DMHOA), said the ordinances seem to capture the spirit of the ad hoc committee but left several important concerns regarding variances unaddressed. "From what I have read of the four proposals, they do contain what we discussed and agreed to recommend for change," she said, "but they are only the tip of the iceberg." Public comment revolved around two ordinances designed to govern conditional uses and variances. Jeanne Sisk, a resident of Sea Air Mobile Home Park in Rehoboth Beach, said she had a hard time accepting the regula- tions regarding sheds. The meas- ures are written for a 5,000- square-foot lot, she said, and Sea Air's lots are smaller. "Not one of our accessory buildings in the back can fit this," she said. "So now we need to get a variance for every one of them? We can't do that." The new ordinance says acces- sory buildings - sheds, garages, gazebos or similar structures - cannot extend closer than 5 feet to the property line, within 20 feet of a residential structure or within 10 feet of a neighboring accessory building. Many older parks have smaller lots, leaving little room for a shed. The commission unanimously deferred action on the condi- tional use ordinance in order to review minutes from the manu- factured home committee. As the audience commented on an ordinance relating to vari- ances, McNicol Place resident and DMHOA Treasurer Bobbie Hemmerich made her case against the county board of ad- justment, which she said too of- ten allows variances for double- wide manufactured homes on undersized lots. "If you look at pictures of Sea Air, it was a beautiftil park," she said. "Now, it's a nightmare. Why was that permitted?" Boucher didn't attend the hearing - she was working - but she backed up Hemmerich in an email. Allowing large homes on small lots is a safety hazard, she said, and the board of adjustment should be wiped clean for its track record of approvals. "Many, like myself, feel the board needs to be completely re- placed, and the code needs an ongoing revision set up to clarify confusing, vague and unen- forced rules and regulations," she said. The variance ordinance gives homeowners the right to a variance if their neighbor re- ceived one, so longas setback re- quirements are met, it does not address the board of adjustment. Commission attorney Vincent Robertson asked commissioners to defer action so he could re- search the ordinance's drafting. Commissioners unanimously granted his request. An ordinance to update defini- tions concerning manufactured homes and an ordinance to es- tablish a minimum square footage of 450 feet were passed without opposition from com- missioners or members of the public. As the hours-long hearings wrapped up, Pot-Nets Lakeside resident Annette Peary thanked commissioners for their hard work. "[ have been given an awful lot of education tonight," she said. Chairman Bob Wheatley said Sussex County's situation is uniquely difficult = many manu- factured homeowners are only part-time residents, and parks are subject to population swings throughout the year. "We have a resort area that we're dealing with," he said, "which I think presents some different considerations than what you might have elsewhere." He said he realizes not every- one will be happy with what the commission recommends to county council. "We're not attempting to codi- fy the desires of all parties," he said:"What they've tried to do is reach a reasonable compro- mise." Though half of the ordinances are out of the commission's hands, Lank said he isn't breath- ing out just yet. 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