A library kiosk built on a concrete slab with two benches in The Villages of Five Points has homeowners association board members upset enough to levy $6,000 in fines against the Lewes Public Library with $50 a day fines accruing since March 23.
In a resolution adopted by The Villages of Five Points Board of Directors, the group states the Lewes library's kiosk did not receive approval from association's Architectural Committee and it should be dismantled.
“The owner of the lot undertook the unpermitted kiosk project using heavy duty construction equipment and trucks in the most heavily travelled area of the community, without knowledge and permission of the board of directors, and such action impeded the streets of the community, an action prohibited under the declaration, and created an unacceptable safety risk to the residents of the community, their guests and to the visitors to the shops and businesses in the community,” the declaration states.
The board gives the library 10 days to meet with them about the kiosk and fines.
Hugh Leahy, president of the Lewes Public Library Board of Commissioners, said library officials plan to meet soon with the homeowners association. “We're looking for an amicable conclusion,” he said. He declined to talk about the permitting process or the fines.
The Lewes Public Library was gifted two acres of land in The Villages of Five Points in 2012. Leahy said the kiosk was meant as an outreach to the community. The kiosk is a wood-framed structure, not much bigger than a birdhouse. Three doors allow residents to pickup or drop off library books instead of heading to the main library facility farther in town.
In a letter to property owners sent March 27, board president John Eikrem said the kiosk is “a small, cheaply made book box” that was denied for a variety of reasons. “With no communication, the library then decided to put up the kiosk anyway,” he wrote.
There are 584 units in the Villages of Five Points, Eikrem said, and every homeowner who has approached him – about 50 – is against the kiosk.
In a March 16 Villages of Five Points letter, Eikrem wrote that the parcel of land originally donated to the library was supposed to be the site of a library facility, otherwise the land would revert back to the homeowners association. “Instead, the library rejected the donation and purchased the site that is now home to the new Lewes Public Library,” the letter states.
Eikrem writes that the installation of the kiosk could prevent the parcel from reverting to the Villages of Five Points, and the library could eventually sell the property, destroying the beauty of the community.
“Instead of grassy open space, we could see an unsightly commercial building that would spoil the view of our pond and add to traffic congestion,” he wrote.
Eikrem compares the fight against the library's kiosk to other development projects the association has opposed, such as a gym proposed in 2017 and more recently an assisted living facility proposed on Old Orchard Road.
Resident Bud Frampton said he attended a homeowners association meeting March 23, but the board only said the kiosk is ugly. It did not say anything about fining the library, he said, a decision that was apparently made by the board, not the residents.
As a resident, Frampton said, he thinks the two benches are nice, and the book kiosk is a service to the community.
“If this was in the open before the resolution was made, I think people might have said, 'Can we think about this before we throw a brick at the library?',” Frampton said. “It doesn't make us look good.”