Time To Move On With Boardwalk Case
One of the difficulties that any person faces when taking legal action to protect their rights is the taxpayers’ money that a governmental agency can use in pursuing pointless court proceedings. The owners of the Dumser’s Dairyland property on the Boardwalk, the Nathan Rapoport family, are now in that position.
The family owned the property for the last 106 years. The owners of Dumser’s business property had to appeal a local judge’s decision to prevent Ocean City from taking their property. The appeals court found that the mayor and his council supporters and a local judge did not produce sufficient evidence that the Dumser’s property was physically located within the public easement area when Ocean City was established. Therefore, the Town of Ocean City could not arrogate the property where Dumser’s is located. Yet, the mayor and his council supporters are continuing to pursue additional appeal proceedings.
Simply put, the case was not about the location of Dumser’s business property on the Boardwalk at Atlantic Avenue and South Division Street as its exist today but as the location existed in 1876. The appeals court found that “Critically, Ocean City did not call, at any time, a licensed surveyor or any other expert witness who could have testified as to the original boundaries of Ocean City as established by the 1876 Deed or interpreted the Plat in relationship to the Property’s actual location on the ground and the streets in existence today.”
Instead, Ocean City witnesses included Terry McGean, a civil engineer by training. However, he was precluded from testifying about the location of the original southern boundary of Ocean City as compared to the actual streets on the ground today, since Maryland law requires that an expert witness that discusses property locations have to be a professional land surveyor or a professional property line surveyor. This had to be a major flaw in the legal argument of the Ocean City attorney.
The owners of the Dumser’s property put forth evidence of the location of the property as well as evidence of the land owner. George Young testified on behalf of owners of the Dumser’s property as an expert in the field of professional land surveying. He performed a boundary line survey of the property and identified the physical location of the building. The owners of the Dumser’s property also presented expert testimony from title abstractor Cynthia Todd. She described the process she undertook to research the title of the property. In other words, with an unlimited amount of money to spend on legal experts, the Ocean City attorney failed to present expert evidence as to the location of the property as it was located back in 1876. Yet, the mayor and his council supporters are continuing to pursue additional appeal proceedings.
Dumser’s has used the property since 1971. The mayor and his council supporters should question their attorney for failing to present expert testimony and, unless the mayor has a very important public reason for spending more of our taxpayers’ money on this case, no further legal action should be taken against the owners of the Dumser’s property.
Joseph H. Potter
Eliminating Excessive Code Rules Will Help OC
Yesterday evening at the Ocean City Council meeting Mr. Demarco accomplished in 10 minutes what I have been trying to get done with consecutive councils for 10 years. He talked about the huge differences in costs, due solely to excessive Ocean City regulations, mostly from the fire marshal, to build or buy a single wide or double wide home in Ocean City compared to Sussex County, a few miles up the road.
Due to local sprinkler requirements and other building requirements in Ocean City, the costs of a double wide could increase from $110,000 outside of Ocean City to $150,000 in Ocean City. A $40,000, or 36 percent, increase in cost. This is equal to an additional tax, although these regulations have nothing to do with the property tax in Delaware which is also vastly lower. The excessive rules our Ocean City regulators impose on our builders and subsequently on the families that own homes, whether second homes or primary residents, have made us uncompetitive with the neighborhoods that surround us. This fact is well known among builders.
Congratulations Mr. Demarco. For a decade, back to Jim Hall, I have written on and talked with council members trying to persuade them to “sunset” many of the code rules that are local and greatly increase the costs of construction. Many of which have been written by local regulators, mostly fire marshals and are unique to Ocean City.
These excessive building costs are not viewed as safety enhancements outside of Ocean City and by increasing the costs to live here they serve as an additional tax on residents and businesses which help to explain much of the outflow of residents and second home owners from Ocean City.
Kudos to Mr. Demarco. His dramatic presentation will give me energy to propose yet again that we sunset at least all local fire marshal codes that are different and more restrictive than those in Worcester County if not Sussex itself. Eliminating excessive code requirements should be the biggest priority the council has this year. This action will be the most revitalizing change the Town of Ocean City can do. It will not only stimulate growth, but it will keep residents and second home owners from selling and leaving Ocean City.
Residents Oppose New Business Use
This letter is in response to the article, “Bay Taxi Service Seeks To Educate About New Service,” which appeared in the Feb. 1, 2019 issue of The Dispatch.
We have owned our home in North Ocean City since July, 1979. We are year-round residents, and we have, over the years, welcomed the growth of our area. We live on a canal which is home to many families who own boats as well as jet skis, and kayaks.
There are also three canals, well populated with watercraft, which must feed into our canal to get out to the bay. At the bottom of our canal is an area that is home to our neighbors who own condos on the south side of this small body of water near Coastal Highway. These residents have boats. The north side of this water is where a business named OC Bay Hopper is planning to base their company.
OC Bay Hopper wants to offer sightseeing boats, a taxi boat and an event/party boat. All of which will use our canal to get to the bay. They want to install a 10-foot by 10-foot floating dock and a three-foot by 30-foot aluminum ramp to go from bulkhead to floating dock. This alteration is not at this time allowable in the SC-1 District where the OC Bay Hopper hopes to be based. They need approval from the Mayor and City Council, the Board of Port Wardens, and the Planning and Zoning Commission.
We are concerned about the commercial traffic in our residential neighborhood, as well as the problems caused by maintenance of these commercial vehicles. Mostly, we are terrified by the devaluation of our major investment, our home.
Stan and Veronica Kahn