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Opponents of library kiosk ramp up pressure

Property-owners’ board seeks to win battle for public opinion
April 24, 2019

A Villages of Five Points property-owners group has vowed to keep fighting over property donated to the Lewes Public Library. The group asked for support in a letter sent April 14.

“We're fighting not only a legal battle, but one in the court of public opinion,” wrote John Eikrem, president of the Villages of Five Points Property Owners Association. He encouraged property owners to write letters to Sussex County Council members, legislators, library commissioners and even the governor for support. “We need to keep up the pressure,” he wrote.

Eikrem said the property group has not filed a lawsuit against the library or any other entity in the Five Points community.

Hugh Leahy, president of the Lewes Public Library board, said a meeting is planned at the end of April. He declined to comment further on the dispute, which began March 23 when the Villages of Five Points property association sent a letter to the library assessing them $6,000 in penalties for building a kiosk on 2.5 acres next to the CVS pharmacy off Savannah Road.

In addition, the library faces a $50 per day fine for each day the book kiosk with a bench on each side, remains.

In 2012, the 2.5 parcel of land was deeded to the Lewes Public Library for use as a library or other community use. A conditional use for the library or other community group to use the property was approved by Sussex County Council in 2011 when it also approved the CVS pharmacy.

Although some members of the property owners' group supported the original CVS application, by 2013 the group opposed it after an accountant hired by the association said that the association would never get the land because it does not meet the IRS criteria for a nonprofit group. The deed states that if the association does not accept the land donation, the title would be transferred to New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Lewes.

Carl Frampton, a local realtor and president of Town Center West – one of several homeowners' and commercial property entities in The Villages of Five Points – said not everyone agrees with the adversarial approach the property owners group has taken.

“I'd rather try to work things out,” Frampton said.