Promised 10 years ago, pool house still incomplete

Sussex: Estates of Sea Chase project now legal headache
The deck around the Estates of Sea Chase pool was expanded, but a pool house has not been constructed. BY RON MACARTHUR
April 21, 2014

Most people would have given up by now.

For the better part of a decade, Richard Diesinger has been trying to get a pool house with parking built in his Estates of Sea Chase community near Rehoboth Beach. The pool house was one of the seven conditions listed in the conditional-use ordinance passed by Sussex County Council in January 2001.

More than 10 years later, with the work not completed, county council voted 5-0 to call in a performance bond. According to Aug. 23, 2011 council minutes, a punch list of items amounting to $30,000 still needed to be completed and the county planned to use part of the $236,000 bond taken out by developer Frank Robino Associates to finish the work.

Sussex County Director of Planning and Zoning Lawrence Lank received a letter from the developer Oct. 13, 2010, that the work would begin in the spring of 2011 and be completed by May 2011. The work was never started.

“The work has still not been done,” Diesinger said. “It was promised to us as a home buyer.”

It's not that the work he is seeking to get done is a major project. Diesinger said the proposed 500-square-foot pool house with five parking spaces would cost about $80,000.

This week, Lawrence Lank, director of county planning and zoning, said that while the county can use bond money to construct five parking spaces, there could be an issue using the bond to build the pool house.

Lank said the county's policy has changed, and it now requires separate bonds for amenities and infrastructure; one bond covered everything when the Estates of Sea Chase was built. “It's a legal question,” he said.

“There was never anything mentioned about an amenities bond; now they are trying to get out of it,” Diesinger said. “Sussex County government has failed us.”

In 2008, company representative Paul Robino told council that the company chose not to build the pool house, but instead to expand the pool area and patio and add central gas service at the request of the original owners of the community. Even so, because it still was a condition of approval, county officials requested the pool house be constructed. The developer appealed to delete the condition but county officials denied the appeal.

However, the size of the pool house was reduced from 1,320 square feet as a result of the expanded pool and deck, and the addition of a propane tank near the pool.

To complicate matters, Diesinger said, the Estates of Sea Chase Condominium Association Board of Directors does not support the project. In a June 19, 2013 letter, board President Bob Kaden wrote that the board would not pursue construction of a pool house and five parking spaces. “This decision is based on legal opinion of our attorney that this case would not succeed. Additionally, the legal expense the community would incur would not be in our best interest,” he wrote to Diesinger.

Diesinger said a vote of homeowners was never taken.

The 45-home development off Old Landing and Warrington roads was built in 2001.