Property owners appeal to Dewey council

Town says Chesapeake Street compound violates code
Property owners of a Chesapeake Street rental home are asking Dewey Beach Town Council to vacate a notice from the town manager threatening revoke a rental license for the compound. SOURCE FILE PHOTO
October 31, 2013

Dewey Beach’s town manager is threatening to revoke a rental license for a property he says violates town code.  In response, the property owners are requesting a hearing before Dewey Beach Town Council to appeal the revocation.

Town Manager Marc Appelbaum sent an Oct. 11 letter to Marcia Schieck and Rich Hanewinckel – who own the multilot rental home at 114 and 116 Chesapeake St. – saying renovations to the property, including the installation of a pool in the front yard, are in violation of required setbacks.

The town paid for a survey of the property, prepared by Foresight Services of Dewey Beach Sept. 25.  The town's survey shows an 18.5-foot front yard setback for the pool and a 15-foot setback for the fence surrounding the pool.

Appelbaum said Building Inspector Bill Mears initially approved a building permit application for the improvements based on a plan that complied with town code, showing a 21-foot front yard setback for the pool and an 18-foot setback for the fence surrounding the pool.

“In accordance with Town Code 117-9, Suspension or Revocation of License, this writing serves as notice that unless you present an acceptable plan to remedy the setback violations within 10 days of the receipt of this letter, your rental license for the property will be suspended,” Appelbaum wrote.

On Oct. 21, Hanewinckel sent an appeal of the Oct. 11 notice to the town.  “The property owner respectfully requests that the town mayor…promptly fix a time and a place for a hearing of the town commissioners in a connection with this appeal,” Hanewinckel stated.

In the appeal, Hanewinckel says the pool and fence are fully compliant with town code.  “Indeed, the survey clearly shows that the pool does not violate the required 18-foot front yard setbacks,” he stated.

Town code permits fences within the 18-foot front yard setback, subject to a height restriction for an ornamental fence, Hanewinckel stated.  The code also requires a safety fence around pools that is at least 4.5-feet tall, he wrote.

In the appeal, Hanewinckel admitted the pool in the initial application is different from the pool that was later installed. “These changes, however, were expressly approved by the town’s building official,” he said.

According to the appeal, the pool Hanewinckel and Schieck intended to install, as shown in the permit application, later became unavailable.  But Mears OK’ed the change in the pool’s shape and size and the modified location of the fence, Hanewinckel stated.

He also argued the town has not cited specific code violations.  “The town’s revocation notice invites the property owner to ‘present an acceptable plan’ to remedy code violations – or else face revocation of a business license – but the town manager and town attorney have steadfastly refused to specifically identify those code violations to the property owner,” the appeal stated.

Schieck and Hanewinckel say the revocation notice should be vacated because it fails to cite any provision, ordinance or section of town code that has been violated by the property owners.

According to town code, Mayor Diane Hanson has 30 days from receipt of Hanewinckel’s appeal to schedule a hearing.

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