Ci­ti­zens con­front coun­cil with prop­erty rights fights

In­dian Acres own­ers fight re­cent sale

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CHERYL MAT­TIX

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— Ce­cil County’s newly or­ga­nized county coun­cil was greeted by more than 100 ci­ti­zens Tues­day night who had a myr­iad of pri­vate prop­erty rights is­sues sur­round­ing In­dian Acres camp­ground, Glen Farms and po­ten­tial com­mer­cial chicken farms.

In­dian Acres fun­stead lot own­ers brought out the

ELK­TON

largest con­tin­gency, but only two lot own­ers spoke dur­ing the meet­ing, while sev­eral stayed af­ter the meet­ing to talk with coun­cil mem­bers one-on-one out­side, as they were leav­ing.

Duane Maeser, pres­i­dent of the In­dian Acres Prop­erty Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, said the group is op­posed to a pend­ing amend­ment to change the camp­ground zon­ing or­di­nance in Ce­cil County that lot own­ers fear will al­low the man­age­ment of the camp­ground to change it into a “re­sort town.”

“An­other camp­ground could crip­ple the six other camp­grounds that are al­ready in the county,” he said.

The amend­ment would al­low low-den­sity res­i­den­tial zones to host recre­ational ve­hi­cle parks with a spe­cial ex­cep­tion, which would re­quire a pe­ti­tioner to suc­cess­fully nav­i­gate both the plan­ning com­mis­sion and county coun­cil. Recre­ational ve­hi­cle parks are al­ready al­lowed in north­ern and south­ern agri­cul­tural zones and man­u­fac­tured home zones un­der cer­tain con­di­tions.

If the amend­ment is

ap­proved by the coun­cil, its us­age would be ex­panded into the low-den­sity res­i­den­tial zone al­low­ing ex­panded uses; such as small restau­rants, gro­cery stores and ho­tels up to 25 guest rooms and mari­nas only in the low­den­sity res­i­den­tial zone, if the owner gets a spe­cial ex­cep­tion.

The zon­ing amend­ment is sched­uled to be heard by the county coun­cil at 7 p.m. Tues­day, Dec. 20. The re­quest has al­ready re­ceived rec­om­men­da­tions for ap­proval from the county plan­ning staff and the county plan­ning com­mis­sion last month.

De­spite the con­cerns of In­dian Acres res­i­dents, those who re­quested the zon­ing amend­ment say they are not in­ter­ested in de­vel­op­ing the Ear­leville camp­ground.

“This re­quest will not im­pact In­dian Acres,” said Dwight Thomey, an at­tor­ney who rep­re­sents Blue Wa­ter De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, a group in­ter­ested in es­tab­lish­ing a re­sort-type camp­ground near the north­ern end of the Elk River off Old­field Point Road.

“I’ve never been to In­dian Acres and I’m not in­ter­ested in it for a re­sort,” added Todd Burbage, of Blue Wa­ter De­vel­op­ment.

The con­tro­versy may have arisen out of the fact that Burbage at­tended the Nov. 19 plan­ning com­mis­sion meet­ing along with Joe Behrle, owner of a Penn­syl­va­nia con­struc­tion com­pany, who would part­ner with Burbage on the Elk River camp re­sort project. Burbage has de­vel­oped sim­i­lar re­sorts else­where in Mary­land and Delaware, pri­mar­ily by pop­u­lar beaches like Ocean City and Re­hoboth Beach, Del.

Sus­pi­cions were height­ened when the man­age­ment of In­dian Acres, in­clud­ing its road net­work and ameni­ties, was sold by long­time owner Robert Minissale to a group of in­vestors that in­cludes Behrle on Nov. 23 — the day be­fore Thanks­giv­ing. Many res­i­dents drove from out of state to protest the sale at the camp­grounds that day, but were un­suc­cess­ful in pre­vent­ing the set­tle­ment.

Queens Point RV and Re­sort Camp­ground is the name of In­dian Acres’ new owner and man­age­ment com­pany, ef­fec­tive Nov. 29. In a let­ters to lot own­ers, com­pany of­fi­cials dis­puted all claims that they want to make mas­sive changes and say they will not raise an­nual mem­ber­ship dues.

“An­other ru­mor is that the na­ture of the camp­ground is chang­ing,” the let­ter reads. “This is sim­ply not true. You will see over the com­ing months many of the same faces you reg­u­larly see work­ing the camp­ground.”

Re­gard­less of whether changes are com­ing to In­dian Acres, how­ever, the lot own­ers as­sert that re­stric­tions in their deeds al­low them to col­lec­tively buy the camp­ground when oc­cu­pancy ex­ceeds 80 per­cent, which they say they’ve achieved. They ar­gue the re­cent sale should have been su­per­seded by their op­por­tu­nity to buy.

Tanya Emkey, a lot owner in In­dian Acres, told the Ce­cil County Coun­cil Tues­day night that the own­ers have hired Frank V. Boozer Jr., of Tow­son, as le­gal coun­sel and they in­tend to fight against the amend­ment and against the sale of the park.

“We own our lots,” she said. “By mak­ing these changes, you’re say­ing we can have a ho­tel in our camp­ground. Through our deed re­stric­tions, we’re con­fi­dent we own our camp­ground.”

Coun­cil­man Dan Sch­neck­en­burger said he would in­ves­ti­gate the sit­u­a­tion be­fore Dec. 20.

“I was very im­pressed with their re­spect and their con­cerns,” he said.

Mean­while, Dave Lara­son, vice pres­i­dent of the Glen Farms Civic As­so­ci­a­tion, told the county coun­cil that two or three com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions are op­er­at­ing in his quiet, res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hood near the Delaware and Penn­syl­va­nia bor­der, rais­ing traf­fic and safety con­cerns.

“I know at least one non­com­pli­ant let­ter has been sent by the county,” Coun­cil­man Dan Sch­neck­en­burger said, of­fer­ing to check into the sit­u­a­tion fur­ther.

Other Zion-area res­i­dents, who op­pose the ex­pan­sion of large-scale com­mer­cial chicken farms in Ce­cil County, claim the county is­sued a per­mit to Galen Horst to con­struct a $500,000 ma­nure tank on his farm near Zion a year af­ter the project was built, de­mand­ing to know how this is le­gal. Again, Sch­neck­en­burger said he’d in­ves­ti­gate the claims.

Chicken farm op­po­nents also asked the county coun­cil to con­sider hir­ing a con­sul­tant to do a health as­sess­ment on chicken farm im­pacts that is spe­cific to Ce­cil County and to be sure on­go­ing mon­i­tor­ing of any ex­ist­ing large op­er­a­tion takes place. Oth­ers asked for zon­ing laws to be made stricter con­cern­ing chicken farms, in­di­cat­ing they would be will­ing to be part of a work­ing com­mit­tee as­signed to cre­ate new rules.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF DAN DEVINE

Brian Robin­son, a lot owner in In­dian Acres, dis­cusses his con­cerns about a zon­ing amend­ment with Coun­cil Vice Pres­i­dent Dan Sch­neck­en­burger out­side the county build­ing Tues­day.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JES­SICA IAN­NETTA

Per­ryville Mid­dle School teacher Scott Del­losso helps a stu­dent with a project dur­ing a re­cent ses­sion at the school’s Mak­erspace.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CHERYL MAT­TIX

Scores of ci­ti­zens packed into the county coun­cil’s meet­ing Tues­day night to raise con­cerns about prop­erty rights is­sues.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF DAN DEVINE

Brian Robin­son, a lot owner in In­dian Acres, dis­cusses his con­cerns about a zon­ing amend­ment with Coun­cil­man Robert Mef­fley out­side the county build­ing Tues­day.

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