Dewey couple defends setback stance

November 1, 2013

The Dewey Beach Town Manager's Oct. 11 letter of revocation of the rental license for our property on Chesapeake Street is unprecedented and unwarranted.  The town’s vague allegations that the fence and pool setbacks are “not in compliance with the town's zoning code” are not supported by the code.  Town Manager Marc Appelbaum has refused, despite three requests, to give us any references to any specific  sections of the Dewey Beach zoning code on which he is relying. We requested a hearing before the town council, as authorized by the code, to vacate the revocation.

The survey conducted by the town says our pool sits at 18.5 feet back from the front property line. The town zoning code requirement says it must be at least 18 feet back.

Thus, contrary to the Town Manager Appelbaums’s claims, the pool is in compliance with the town code. In fact, we could have built a 35-foot-high house where the pool sits.

The town also writes that “the pool and fence are not consistent with the drawing you provided.”  We have never disputed this since the pool model we ordered was not available and we had to select another.  The new model was approved on-site by the building official and it was inspected after construction was completed and determined to be compliant. The code also requires a three-foot walkway between the fence and the pool, which we have.

As to the protective pool safety fence, there are no front yard setback requirements in the code for a protective safety fence.  Our pool safety fence is required by the code and is 15 feet back from the property line, per the town survey, and is in compliance with the code. The pool safety fence also meets the code requirement for being four-and-a-half feet high.

In fact, after construction was completed, the Dewey Beach Building Official required us to increase the height of our safety fence from four to four-and-a-half feet to comply with code, which we did that day. He indicated that once we corrected the fence height, the property would be in compliance with the code.

Further, at a proceeding before the board of adjustment on June 12, after the Chesapeake Street renovations were completed, the town manager and the building official testified under oath that they had inspected property it was "in compliance" and no further action was necessary.

Rental license revocation or suspension is unheard of in Dewey Beach.   The property is in compliance with town code, was inspected by and determined to be in compliance by the town on multiple occasions.  This situation is about fundamental fairness and we hope the town council will proceed to evaluate the facts in an orderly manner.

Marcia Schieck and Rich Hanewinckel
Dewey Beach

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