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RG# 7120


Henlopen Acres
RG 9015-028-000: Yacht Basin, Henlopen Acres

W.S. Corkran, an architect and engineer, purchased three tracts of land in Lewes and Rehoboth Hundred and in 1930 deeded the land to a corporation called Henlopen Acres, Inc., whose purpose was to develop a resort residential community and of which he remained a principal. The elliptically-shaped development was bounded by the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal on the northwest and west, the Town of Rehoboth Beach on the south, the Atlantic Ocean on the east and privately held lands on the north. Corkran’s vision in planning residential development was to preserve the natural habitat. Although lots were generally 150’ X 170,’ they often varied in size in order to preserve trees and retain vistas. House designs were subject to review by a governing body. Streets were wide and followed the contour of the land. Landscaped parks, bridle paths, and a yacht club were incorporated into the design. Still subject to certain restrictions and deed covenants, Henlopen Acres is today Delaware’s smallest town, being only 0.3 square miles in size with 216 parcels of land.


1950 – 1999

Henlopen Acres has been incorporated only once, in 1970, but its Charter has been amended many times. It was originally incorporated as the “Mayor and Commissioners of Henlopen Acres” but was known by the corporate name of “The Town of Henlopen Acres.” The territorial limits described in the Charter are the same as those which were deeded to Henlopen Acres, Inc. in 1930. The Commission of Henlopen Acres consists of seven, elected members who hold two-year, staggered terms and who are required to be freeholders of the Town. The Commissioners are to choose members to serve President, who holds the title of Mayor of Henlopen Acres, and Secretary to serve one-year terms. The Mayor, who is required to be a bona fide resident, votes at Commission meetings. The Commissioners are to meet quarterly to carry out Town business. The Commissioners are also to appoint a Town Clerk to serve as the Town’s administrator, keeping Town records, and collecting taxes and fees. They are also to appoint a Treasurer, who must be a resident of the Town or employed by a corporation doing business in Lewes and Rehoboth Hundred, to be the custodian of all Town funds. Three Auditors of Accounts, who are freeholders in the Town, are also appointed to one-year terms. Optional Town officials included a Board of Assessment, Town Solicitor, a Police Force, and a Beach Patrol. If no Board of Assessment is appointed, then the Commissioners are to carry out the annual valuation and assessment of all real estate. The Commissioners are to determine the number of funds that would be needed from each source of revenue available to the Town, but no maximum annual amount of taxes was cited in the Charter. The original Charter contained twenty-three enumerated powers that are vested in the Town which include providing health, peace safety, cleanliness, and good order; regulating shows and exhibitions; regulating streets; defining and preventing nuisances; providing pure water; providing a sewer system or sewage treatment and disposal plant; managing bulkheads and jetties; regulating and preserving the planting of ornamental trees; regulating parcels of ground which are deemed dangerous; numbering houses; implementing building codes; regulating the use of guns and fireworks; and implementing actions to prevent fires. The Commissioners can levy taxes and collect fines and charges for services as well as borrow money and issue bonds as long as such borrowing did not exceed 15% of the assessed value of the Town’s real estate.1                           

The first amendments to the Charter were made in 1973. The law contained twenty-four individual changes. The more significant of these changes were: the powers in the Charter were now vested in the Town instead of the Commissioners; there were clarifications of who could vote in elections; there were also clarifications to the process for assessing taxes; the fiscal year was changed to begin July 1; the Town could levy tax on telephone, telegraph and power poles; the Town could license businesses including farm produce stands, and the per capita tax on residents was set at $5. In another law passed later the same year, the Town was given the power to annex contiguous territory.2 Three years later, in 1976, another law contained thirteen individual changes to the Charter; these would be considered technical corrections.3 In 1987, the Town was given the power to float short-term debt as long as this did not exceed $200,000 in any one year.4 In 1988, changes were made to the Charter to increase the amount of a contract which the Town could enter into without competitive bidding from $2,000 to $20,000.5 Two years later, in 1990, this amount was increased again to $30,000, and in addition, the Town was authorized to levy tax on real estate transfers if this action was approved by referendum.6 In 1992, the Charter was amended to allow for the assessment to be updated more often than annually.7 A year later, a technical correction was made related to the issuing of bonds.8 In 1996, a law was passed which clarified the reasons for which the Town could borrow money and issue bonds; the Town Clerk position was changed to be a Town Manager; and the Town was authorized to place a lien on property for which taxes are delinquent and to sell the property if the taxes are not paid.9 In 1999, a law was passed which contained ten corrections to the Charter. Most of these were technical in nature, such as misspelled words, but there were changes to some of the duties of the Town Manager.10


2000 – Current

In 2001, a law passed which contained another five technical corrections to the Charter, and another law addressed the issue of who was eligible to vote in elections.11 A year later, a law passed which again addressed the issue of who could vote in elections.12 In 2003, the election procedures were changed so as to not require voting to take place if no one is nominated to a Commissioners seat or a seat is uncontested.13 In 2005, the provisions in the Charter as to who could seek elected office were changed to require that four of the seven Commissioners be bona fide residents of the Town, not just property owners. In addition, elected officials were now to serve three-year terms.14 A law passed in 2008 contained twelve changes to the Charter many of which were related to the issue of qualifications for elective office. It also addressed who was allowed to vote and clarified that those who held more than one lot were still only eligible to cast one vote. In addition, it was not required that the Treasurer must be a resident of the Town.15 In 2009, there were nine changes made to the Charter related to the procedures for assessment and appeal of taxes. The Town was also given the authority to accept Sussex County’s valuation of assessment rather than conduct their own assessment.16 In 2014, the Charter was amended to require that the Treasurer be one of the Commissioners; their duties and responsibilities of the position were changed. In another law passed the same year, the provisions related to the qualifications of the Mayor, the Commissioners and Voters were entirely re-written so as to incorporate the many changes to these that had taken place over the years. A “real property owner” was defined and this was applied to this section.17

For the fully amended text of the current Charter, see

CITATIONS in Del. Laws

1 57 Del. Laws, c. 504 (1970) [pp. 1377-1418]

2 59 Del. Laws, c. 18 (1973) [pp. 32-40]

3 60 Del. Laws, c. 317 (1976) [pp. 955-58]

4 66 Del. Laws, c. 15 (1987) [p. 25]

5 66 Del. Laws, c. 259 (1988) [p. 492]

6 67 Del. Laws, c. 213 (1990) [pp. 437-38]

7 68 Del. Laws, c. 427 (1992) [pp. 1305-6]

8 69 Del. Laws, c. 12 (1993) [p. 12]

9 70 Del. Laws, c. 345, c. 346, and c. 347 (1996) [p. 771, p. 772, and p. 773]

10 72 Del. Laws, c. 110 (1999) [p. 160]

11 73 Del. Laws, c. 21 and c. 159 (2001) [p. 60 and p. 408]

12 73 Del. Laws, c. 361 (2002) [p. 1025]

13 74 Del. Laws, c. 16 (2003) [p. 13]

14 75 Del. Laws, c. 165 (2005) p. 235-36]

15 76 Del. Laws, c. 346 (2008) [pp. 204-5]

16 77 Del. Laws, c. 41 (2009) []

17 79 Del. Laws, c. 247 and c. 248 (2014)



Delaware Laws from 1935 to present can be found online at


Town of Henlopen Acres’ records at the Delaware Public Archives include:

  • Minutes of the Board of Commissioners (1970-2009): 7020-000-001
  • Annual Audited Financial Statements (1970-2013): 7020-000-002
  • Maps and Plots (1929-1986): 7020-000-003


jnl / August 2, 2018 | April 23, 2019

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