OCEAN CITY — Unwilling to let go of a fight asserting ownership of the iconic Dumser’s property on the east side of the Boardwalk, Ocean City officials this week filed an appeal to have the case heard by the state’s highest court.
Ocean City this week filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Court of Appeals, essentially asking the state’s highest court to take up the case in which it had been defeated twice by the Court of Special Appeals. 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. However, moving in unusually quick fashion, the Court of Special Appeals denied the town’s motion for reconsideration, leaving the last resort for the town a request to ask the higher Court of Appeals take up the case.
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. Now, the town is seeking the opinion of the state’s highest court in the case, although there is no guarantee the Court of Appeals will take it on.