OCEAN CITY — Ocean City’s motion for reconsideration of a state Court of Special Appeals decision in the ongoing Boardwalk property issue was denied this week, exhausting one of the last remedies at asserting ownership of the historic land for the town.
In late December, the Court of Special Appeals issued an opinion asserting the town of Ocean City had not presented sufficient evidence to prove ownership of the iconic building on the east side of the Boardwalk at South Division Street, which, for decades has been home to Dumser’s Dairyland. The town quickly exercised its next possible remedy in the case with the filing of a motion for reconsideration of the Court of Special Appeals opinion handed down in late December.
However, moving in unusually quick fashion, the Court of Special Appeals this week denied the town’s motion for reconsideration. The higher court’s decision to deny the motion for reconsideration was posted on the state’s judicial case search website on Tuesday. Nathans Associates representative Mona Strauss said on Thursday the family received notice of the Court of Special Appeals decision to deny the motion for reconsideration on Tuesday.
“We got notice of the decision regarding the city’s filing for reconsideration,” she said. “It was received before 1 p.m. on Tuesday. I would imagine that the city was also notified at that time. It was an unbelievably short time within which to render the decision. I guess there is a message in that.”
The motion for reconsideration was essentially a middle step in the appeals process for Ocean City in the ongoing battle over ownership of the historic property. Because the town was unsuccessful in getting the Court of Special Appeals to reconsider it opinion in favor of the Nathans Associates, or heirs of the property, the next possible step for the town, should it desire to continue to pursue the case, is to reach out to the higher Court of Appeals to hear the case.
However, the Court of Appeals has discretion over which cases it chooses to hear and there is not certainty the higher court would elect to do so. It is also uncertain if the town will decide to pursue an appeal to the higher Court of Appeals after essentially losing twice now in the Court of Special Appeals.
The historic building on the east side of South Division Street near the south end of the Boardwalk has been home to different businesses and attractions over the last century-plus after an enterprising young man first built in 1912. Since the 1970s, the iconic building has been home to a Dumser’s Dairyland ice cream parlor that has served the popular treat to generations of residents and visitors to Ocean City.
Ownership of the property was called into question in 2016 after an agreement between the town of Ocean City and the heirs of the original owner, Nathan Rapaport, who first built the structure back in 1912, expired. In April 2017, a Worcester County Circuit Court judge issued an opinion in favor of the town of Ocean City. As a result of that ruling, the Rapaport heirs were temporarily enjoined from any use of the property and were given a timeline at that time to remove or demolish the historic building.
Rapaport’s heirs, Nathan Associates, appealed the Worcester County Circuit Court decision to the state’s Court of Special Appeals, which, in December, issued an opinion in favor of the heirs of the long-time property owners and against the town of Ocean City.