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Sussex County Council ...

County OKs Demolition of
More Abandoned Trailers

SC Online Content Editor

GEORGETOWN -- Sussex County Council agreed to continue a partnership with the mobile home industry that has resulted in the demolition and removal of 105 abandoned mobile homes so far.

The council on Tuesday, March 11, 2003, accepted a check for $8,000 from the First State Manufactured Housing Association to continue the program. The county will match that money with another $8,000 to remove mobile homes that are "functionally obsolete," and are scattered in rural areas throughout the county, according to First State president Andy Strine.

Typically, Strine said, the mobile homes targeted for demolition are at least 35 years old and would not be accepted under today's housing standards.

The abundance of such homes throughout the county, Strine said, has affected the reputation of the mobile home industry as a whole. Phyllis McKinley, First State director, said the program is a "true example of a win-win public-private partnership. It's helping to clean up our image problem," McKinley said.

"In the past, a lot of people didn't quite know what to do with these things," Strine said.

Now, after they are removed, they are taken to a materials recovery service in Baltimore. Each removal costs only $375 plus transportation costs, according to McKinley. Four homes can be removed in under 30 minutes, she said.

County Administrator Robert Stickels said the demolition program has "just scratched the surface" of the mobile homes that need to be removed. About 28 are in the process of removal right now. Stickels called the cost "reasonable and affordable" -- especially compared to the $2,500 it would cost to take apart each mobile home on site and take them to a landfill.

Council OKs 85 Homes Near Ocean View

Council approved a zoning change for an 85-home upscale development called Lord Baltimore Landing, west of Ocean View.

The development will be located on 38 acres currently owned by Frank Lathbury, adjacent to the Village at Bear Trap Dunes on Central Avenue (County Road 84). It also adjoins Woodland Park and The Reserves.

Developers Clinton Bunting and Mark Jahnigen plan homes averaging 3,120 square feet, and ranging in price from $350,000 to $475,000. Average housing density will be 2.2 units per acre. The property is currently in use as a poultry farm.

Amenities will include a clubhouse and a swimming pool. The development will feature tree-lined sidewalks, according to plans submitted to the county Planning and Zoning Commission for a Feb. 13 hearing.

Cole Blasts Home Elevation Program

Sussex County Council member George Cole called a federal program that pays most of the cost of elevating waterfront homes "crazy," saying most of the owners can well afford to foot the entire cost of the work.

The program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is designed to elevate homes that otherwise would face repeated damage from flooding. Most of the homes are in oceanfront and bayfront resorts. Under the program, FEMA pays 75 percent of the cost of elevating the home on pilings. The homeowners pay the remaining 25 percent.

"This program is just benefiting a select group in this county," Cole said.

"I can't disagree with you," said County Administrator Robert Stickels.

Cole urged the council to change the percentage paid by the homeowners. "Why can't the people that own these properties protect their own property?" he asked.

Of the 12 homes in the program, 10 are in Oak Orchard, one is in Dewey Beach and one is in West Beach.

"Is it possible to means-test an applicant, so we don't subsidize a millionaire from Baltimore," asked council member Vance Phillips.

Although it does not fund the program, the county council must approve each contract.

On March 11, the council approved a group of change orders for current projects. Costs with the changes range from $198,000 for four homes to $104,800 for one home -- one that was built in the late 1890s and is listed as historic. That project is almost a year behind schedule because of problems relating to the home's age.

Stickels acknowledged problems with the program, including insufficient funding from the state to cover the county's administrative costs. "This was a learning process for us," Stickels said. "If we do this again, we will very seriously look at having outside consultants administrate this."

"It's a bad program and we ought to try to make it better," Cole said.

In Other Business ...
  • The council approved bids for three new paramedic vehicles, all from I.G. Burton: $26,749 each for two new Chevrolet chassis for paramedic response vehicles; with "boxes" to be added later; and $32, 089 for a Chevrolet Suburban.

  • The council agreed to provide $2,500 in funding for the Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council Inc. for financial consulting workshops.

  • Council heard the following proposed ordinances:
    • Conditional Use No. 1496, proposed antique shop and art gallery in Baltimore Hundred;

    • Change of Zone No. 1511, from agricultural-residential to high-density residential/residential planned community on 19 acres in Baltimore Hundred, Gulfstream Developers; and

    • Change of Zone No. 1512, from agricultural-residential to neighborhood business, 8.2 acres in Baltimore Hundred, Percy Inc.

  • Council approved the following grant requests:
    • Women of the Moose, Seaford Chapter 1384, $300 for a bowling tournament;

    • Laurel Chamber of Commerce, $600 for the July 4th celebration;

    • Laurel Fireworks Celebration Corp., $300 for sponsorship of fireworks;

    • V.F.W. Post No. 10638, $864 for insurance coverage;

    • The city of Lewes, $600, deputy mayor's attendance at congressional city conference;

    • Milton Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, $500, hospital fair;

    • Delaware Quarter Horse Association, $100, sponsorship of futurities;

    • Sussex Central Baseball Boosters, $250, new equipment;

    • Delaware State Police, $600, Citizens Police Academy;

    • Seaford Fire Museum, $500, construction of building to house restored fire truck;

    • Delaware Envirothon, $250, 2003 Delaware State Envirothon;

    • Delaware Devils Girls Softball Team, $500, tournament expenses

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