The Lewes Planning Commission did not budge on the city's policy that prohibits new mobile homes, even to replace an existing one.
Residents of the Abbott Park mobile home community on South Washington Street requested they be allowed to replace their mobile homes with new mobile homes. However, mobile homes are not allowed in Lewes city code. Because they are considered nonconforming, residents are also prevented from acquiring a building permit to renovate their mobile homes.
Further complicating matters is Abbott Park's ownership structure. The community is a co-op, meaning its residents collectively own the 53,000-square-foot lot at 111 S. Washington St. Decisions about the park are made by its own governing board.
In an effort to help Abbott Park, the planning commission drafted an ordinance that requires the community to submit a site plan within a specific time that identifies the configuration of the homes on the property. Once that occurs, then individual owners may modify the plan to replace their mobile homes with smaller modular homes or stick-built homes.
Commissioners voted unanimously to forward their draft to mayor and city council. A public hearing on the ordinance will likely be held in the coming months.
Resident Karen Barnes said it's a financial burden to upgrade to anything other than a mobile home.
“We do have some residents that if there were a fire or if something happened to their unit that they may not be able to do stick built or modular, like a small cottage,” she said. “It may need to be looking more like a mobile home – narrow and longer – for cost reasons.”
Chairman Mike Mahaffie said there appears to be enough leeway in the definition of a modular home for residents to find a financially feasible housing option.
Vice Chairperson Kay Carnahan agreed, saying mobile homes were made nonconforming for a reason.
“I was under the impression that we were supposed to find a path forward to helping this become a conforming community without mobile homes,” she said. “[Allowing mobile homes] undercuts that whole idea.”
If the city moves forward with the ordinance, city attorney Michael Hoffman said, individuals would be required to obtain consent from the owner – the co-op – before modifying Abbott Park's recorded plan to get a building permit.