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Massey's Landing seeks permanent homes on campsites

Park model cottages too expensive to move, owners say
A row of park models is ready for vacationers at The Resort at Massey’s Landing at the end of Long Neck Road. RON MACARTHUR PHOTOS
September 13, 2017

Story Location:
Long Neck Road
Millsboro  Delaware
United States

The owners of The Resort at Massey's Landing say it’s too expensive to move 32 park model cottages to higher ground when the camping season ends. They want Sussex County officials to amend a condition placed on the project so the park models can stay in place.

County planning and zoning commissioners say permanent structures are not permitted in campgrounds. The commission voted unanimously to recommend denial of the request.

Speaking on behalf of Massey's Landing Properties LLC of Berlin, Md., architect Jeff Clark said the owners paid more than $150,000, in the first week in November 2016, to tow the park models a few miles down Long Neck Road to store them for the winter. “It's really unclear why the park models are required to leave the site,” he said during an Aug. 29 county council public hearing. “They are not licensed vehicles, and they require expensive towing equipment.”

He said as more park models are added to the resort – the site plan includes as many as 70 – the cost of moving them will only increase.

County officials' condition required moving the park models because of potential flooding in the area. Council also did not want permanent, camping-type structures on the property.

Council's final decision could come down to the definitions of park models, recreational vehicles and manufactured homes.

PARK MODELS

Park models – referred to as cottages and cottage super sites on the resort’s website – are rented daily or by the week; weekly rates vary according to the season from $1,600 to $2,400. The 390-square-foot park models can sleep up to seven people.

Clark's argument did not convince the county's planning and zoning commission. At its Aug. 24 meeting, the commission voted 5-0 to recommend denial of the owner's request.

In his motion for denial, Commissioner Keller Hopkins cited two sections of county code pertaining to campgrounds.

Hopkins said the applicants were asking to covert park models into permanently located manufactured homes on campsites. He said if permitted, code requires that a manufactured home in a flood plain must be elevated on a permanent, reinforced foundation with anchors and tie-downs to secure a permanent structure.

However, Hopkins said, that action was not permitted under another section of county code that prohibits permanent structures for human occupation, other than one used by a park manager, in a campground. “This section prohibits the conversion of these RVs into permanently anchored structures like a manufactured home,” he said.

Clark said he disagreed with the commission's view. Park models of 400 square feet or less are recreational vehicles as spelled out in county code, he said.

County attorney J. Everett Moore said the conditions were in place to ensure there were no permanent camping structures.

At the Aug. 29 meeting, Councilman Rob Arlett, R-Frankford, asked Clark whether other campgrounds in the county have permanent structures.

“There are thousands of them,” Clark answered.

If defined as manufactured homes, park models would require permanent foundations and would have to be anchored to the ground. Planning and Zoning Director Janelle Cornwell said additional regulations would be in place for any structures in a flood plain.

Clark said the owner already uses 10 anchors to tie down park models. He said if county officials approve his request, park models in a designated flood zone would be moved to a more secure location on the property. He said most park models at the resort are not in a flood plain.

Clark said if any park models are left in a flood zone, they would have to follow the same regulations that apply to manufactured homes and RVs – a foundation to allow water to pass under and anchors designed by an engineer and inspected by the county. “It's a fact some are in a flood zone, and they will be dealt with like any other structure per your code,” Clark said.

Council backed a motion by Arlett to defer a vote to the Tuesday, Sept. 19 meeting. “I need time to look at the 5-0 recommendation by planning and zoning versus what I have heard today and what else exists around the county,” he said.