Lewes considers annexation of mobile home park

Donovan-Smith community has 122 units
February 7, 2018

Lewes Mayor and City Council will continue moving forward with possible annexation of the 21.6-acre Donovan-Smith mobile home park just outside city limits behind the Lewes Diner shopping center. 

Deputy Mayor Fred Beaufait presented the annexation committee’s report and recommendations at council’s Jan. 8 meeting. 

Beaufait said the advantages to both residents of the park and to the city outweigh the disadvantages, and he recommended council continue pursuing annexation. 

One of the major benefits, he said, is removal of the park’s septic systems. He said there are 122 usable trailers and several other derelict units, and each has its own septic system and well. 

“Protection of the environment is an advantage because they would get rid of their septic systems and would be on Board of Public Works sewer,” he said. “We believe this is important because our well fields are nearby and the groundwater [source] is also under this property.” 

Mayor Ted Becker agreed.

“Certainly the environmental concerns that this property presents make it something we really need to very strongly consider,” he said. 

City Engineer George, Miles and Buhr is designing a system to extend wastewater service to the park. Design is expected to be complete by March, when it will be presented with an estimated cost to residents of the park. It will then be up to the park property owner to decide whether it is a good idea to move forward with annexation. 

If annexation occurs, residents must also tap into the city’s water system within five years. 

By expanding its borders, Beaufait said, the city could also explore further annexation opportunities beyond the park. The city can only annex land that is contiguous with its borders.

As for disadvantages, Beaufait said, the city would not recover the cost to provide services to residents, such as recycling, trash and yard waste collection, but the loss would not be too great. 

Donovan-Smith residents would also likely see an increase to their lot rent because the owner of the park would likely pass on to them any increase in taxes and fees. Residents would also see a slight increase in individual taxes, he said. 

The biggest concern, Beaufait said, is the zoning for the park. If annexed, he said, the park would likely receive an R-2, low-density residential, classification. Under the zoning code, the park would be nonconforming and any changes to the park, such as replacing a trailer, would require a variance from the board of adjustment. 

Beaufait said the city has two options that could ease the burden on residents: The city could consider adopting a new zoning classification for annexed mobile home parks, or the park could seek blanket variances from certain zoning laws. 

City Solicitor Glenn Mandalas said a blanket variance would save individual residents time and money for filing an application for variance with the board. 

Weighing all the pros and cons, Beaufait and the annexation committee recommended the city move forward. The next step would be to work out an annexation agreement with the owner of the park. Once complete, the city would have a special election for annexation.