Lewes residents: Ask hard questions about Donovan-Smith park

August 22, 2023

Another workshop on the Donovan-Smith Manufactured Home Park is being held by the mayor and city council at 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 24, with little publicity, opportunity or information to know the issues, involve the affected, or fit into a sensible plan. What’s at stake?

On the table is a proposal to change zoning that immediately opens up Donovan-Smith to greater exposure and harm to its residents and homeowners – the leaseholders – while giving a further pass to the landowner who appears to have been skirting the law and not paying fines for some time now. Meanwhile the city and state appear remiss in protecting the public health, safety and well-being of both the Donovan-Smith neighbors and the larger Lewes community.

The city annexed the manufactured home park over a year ago, but the Lewes BPW will not be doing water and sewer hookups before the end of next year – despite open sewage from long-standing overflowing septic tanks due to overoccupancy in some units and age in others.  Donovan-Smith was built on a dump that was not cleaned up. It sits by the Ebenezer Branch of Canary Creek in a floodplain that will bring all its pollution to the rest of Lewes and its water supply in a serious storm – if not already.

Residents include both members of an HOA seeking to protect and improve their properties while preventing rent gouging by a lax landlord not meeting requirements – first in Sussex County and now in the City of Lewes; and many lower-income workers and families seeking affordable housing but needing a safe and healthy environment. Their children attend the schools, the aging need medical and social services, and all are part of our community. Lewes will not fix its affordable housing need by creating a bigger problem of hazard to health, safety, welfare, pollution, crowding, lax enforcement and failure to plan, hear and rectify complaints, fix infrastructure, or properly govern.

Go to the workshop. Ask hard questions. Ask why the city planner is pushing the interests of the landowner over the homeowners and residents – both in and outside the park. Manufactured homes are just as much a part of the Lewes community as Mariners Retreat, Pilottown, or the historic district – and it’s been here longer than the Shipcarpenter Square development.

Ric Moore

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