RV Park will damage stability of affected communities

April 11, 2013

I am writing in response to Casey Kenton’s March 28th letter “Sussex should embrace proposed campground” in which he expresses support for the proposed Love Creek RV Resort and Campground. He notes that today’s camp-goers, in their $50,000 RVs, are not your father’s campers (implying they are wealthier, or perhaps less willing to “rough it”), and the area’s economy needs the influx of their vacation dollars. This short-sighted attitude does not take into account the long-term damage that such a large development can do to the stability of the affected communities and the economy.

For this isn’t a resort or campground in any traditional sense of the words. It is a massive city covering over 160 acres that is designed to accommodate a transient population of 3,000 people for seven months of the year with commercial outlets that include a general store, fitness center, boat launch, laundromat, storage facility and dockside bar. This commercial venture is out of keeping with the area’s surrounding farmland and residential neighborhoods, and it threatens environmentally sensitive wetlands. Furthermore, because the “resort” will be open from April to October, its employment opportunities will be seasonal, and it will not attract full-time residents who bring long-term economic stability to the county.

As a journalist and author of three books on American lifestyles, I have witnessed what outsized developments can do to communities. Whether they spring up in small-town Iowa or command several blocks in the South Bronx, these out-of-character developments ultimately destroy the prevailing character and cohesiveness of the surrounding communities. They subvert the organic process of how a community grows and changes. And they undermine the social contract between residents and their local leaders who were elected to safeguard the community and their way of life.

Indeed, if local leaders approve the zoning changes necessary to allow the development of this RV city, it will brand the county and its leaders as a locality that ignores the interests of its residents—including nearly 1,000 who have signed petitions against the development and expressed their opposition at the Planning and Zoning and County Council hearings. As a real estate broker testified at one Council meeting, no one wants to buy a home near an RV park. So the proposed project not only condemns current residents to declining property values (with the associated reduction in tax revenues); it also severely impacts the ability of the county to attract future year-round residents.

There’s an old adage in marketing: Happy customers tell 10 people but unhappy customers tell 100 people. Given the adverse reaction that this project has generated in the community, our county leaders cannot afford to endorse this project and risk destroying the area’s reputation for a quality of life that any other community in Delaware—or the nation for that matter—would eagerly seek to protect.

I hope our leaders will do the right thing and vote against the zoning changes, recognizing the serious concerns about this site and realizing that short-sighted thinking undermines the long-term health of our community.

Michael J. Weiss

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