The full-time residents of White Horse Park are seeking to drop Worcester County in the lawsuit, but continue with action against the White Horse Park Association.

(Nov. 13, 2020) Worcester County may be dropped as a defendant in the case regarding the full-time residents of White Horse Park and the White Horse Park Association. 

On behalf of the full-time residents, attorney Hugh Cropper filed a motion to dismiss the case against the county last Wednesday, contending that the county was not seeking aggressive enforcement of the zoning code, while the homeowner’s association was. 

According to Cropper, two residents signed an affidavit stating that they no longer live in the park full-time, but are still not allowed to vote in the board of directors election or to store their boat. 

“The association has decided to revoke the rights of anybody who was, it seems almost retaliatory, that was a full-time resident,” Cropper said. “I think it’s really a terrible way for an association to treat its own residents and its own neighbors.”  

On the other hand, he said that the county has not taken any enforcement action, including fines. 

“I can’t speak for Worcester County but they seem to be waiting to see what happens with the association, so I don’t see any need to proceed against the county right now,” Cropper said. 

Full-time residents of White Horse Park in Berlin have been fighting since June 2018 to remain in the park. 

The zoning code states that from Sept. 30 to April first, residents can only occupy their unit for 30 consecutive days or an aggregate of 60 days. Many residents are older and struggle with disability or low incomes. 

After a rejected zoning code amendment to remain in the park and a rejected appeal, the conflict will head to trial at Worcester County Circuit Court on Dec. 15 and 16. 

The residents have claimed that they were either not properly informed of the zoning code or encouraged to live at the park full time, while the county and association claim that the zoning code has been available to view and that the park’s infrastructure was not built for full-time residents. 

Although James W. Almand, representing the White Horse Park Association, has opposed the motion to dismiss the county, Cropper said he doesn’t think Almand and the association have grounds to do so.

“He’s not a party to that dispute between the eight plaintiffs and Worcester County, so I don’t think the association has a say,” Cropper said. “I think it’s between the eight people and Worcester County and to my knowledge, they’ve not made a statement one way or another.”  

Cropper said that the number of full-time residents has decreased from 108 to 41, officially. 

“I’m encouraging them constantly to find other places and they’re doing the best they can,” Cropper said. “Worcester County set them up with the department of aging. They’ve not been able to relocate one person.” 

He said the few remaining are the ones with the greatest financial and physical hardships. Cropper has discussed settlement options with both the county and the association. 

“Those are the types of things we’ve discussed, but it’s all conceptual and we don’t have any agreements,” Cropper said. 

Worcester County did not respond to request for comment in time for pub

Elizabeth covers Worcester County issues for Ocean City Today. In 2018, she graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with a bachelor of arts. After graduation, Elizabeth spent a year with Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Wilmington, Delaware.

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