Citizens to Preserve Dewey (CPD) statement on dismissal of citizen lawsuit

Citizens to preserve Dewey Beach warns all communities over dismissal of lawsuit to maintain height limits in Dewey Beach

Dear Rehoboth Beach Neighbors,

As you may know the citizen lawsuit filed against the Town of Dewey Beach and the Ruddertowe developer Dewey Beach Enterprises was dismissed last week by Judge Noble. We believe the judge’s decision to dismiss the citizen lawsuit sets a very dangerous precedent, on many levels, for all towns in Delaware, especially our beach communities that are now open prey for greedy developers.

What is at issue? Although both the defendant developer, Dewey Beach Enterprises, and the Town of Dewey Beach argue in their briefs to the court that the Mutual Release and Agreement (MAR) signed by the Town and DBE was NOT an amendment to Dewey's zoning code or any ordinance, the judge in his ruling, DECLARED IT AN AMENDMENT to Dewey's zoning code.

We are confident that the reason the Town and DBE crafted this deal as a "resolution" and NOT a zoning or ordinance amendment was the fact that if it was declared a zoning or ordinance amendment it would trigger the citizens' right to a referendum, which both the town and developer were strategically trying to avoid. One asks, where is the justice in that deal? The former Dewey Beach Town Council and DBE have now set in place a precedent that essentially ignores town laws and zoning codes.  It allows both to enter into an illegal deal that disenfranchises citizens by manipulating the zoning approval process to work "outside" the system.

The precedent will affect all communities if this deal stands: Now any developer wanting to build a structure that does not comply with town laws or zoning codes can file a barrage of lawsuits against the town, bully them into submission when they cannot financially sustain the impact of those lawsuits and strike a deal by "resolution" that gives them permission to build a structure that does not comply with town laws and zoning codes. Essentially, the very laws and codes you put in place to protect you, your property value, your small town charm and your community have no force of law in this type of deal....they are not worth the paper they are written on.

Motion to Rehear Filed: Since that ruling, the property owners filing the citizen law suit have filed a motion for "rehearing" of the case in hopes of reversing the dismissal.   Please read the motion attached.  There was an excellent letter to the editor last week by retired Wilmington lawyer Christine Whitehead which concludes as follows:

"The Chief Justice needs to call up this case and review it under his power to oversee the courts. When a policy to favor developers is placed above the fundamental policy that we are a government of laws and authority must come from our Constitutions, the Delaware judicial system is badly untethered to our guiding principles."—Christine Whitehead, Mill Creek,   

Background: Retired member of the Delaware Bar, Member of the Civic League for New Castle County, Member of DelCOG, former member of the New Castle County Planning Board, former Deputy Attorney General, Civil Division, former Ass't. New Castle County Atty., and formerly with the Appellate Division of the Office of the Public Defender.

In closing we ask that you pay attention to this case, support our brave property owners that filed it and make sure your community says "no" to this kind of manipulation of justice, laws and zoning codes. We hope for the sake of all our Delaware communities that the judge will reconsider his ruling based on the law, merits and precedent this will set and allow the case to move forward to trial where the facts will be clearly established. Only then will the DBE's and the Town's manipulation of justice, our laws and the state mandated processes that governs zoning approvals be exposed. We cannot allow our elected public officials, their attorneys, town officers, and developers to ignore our citizen rights and our laws. This activity smells like the manipulation of law and order that is indicative of a third world country, not Dewey Beach.

Please see Joan Claybrook’s Letter to the Editor in today’s Cape Gazette (6/15).

To view all court documents related to the property owner lawsuit go to our website at www.preservedeweybeach.com; see tab on right side.

Marcia Schieck, Co-Founder, Citizens to Preserve Dewey