Rehoboth reaches settlements on pool cases

Litigation stems from 2014 moratorium
August 8, 2018

After years of legal wrangling with the city, two Rehoboth Beach property owners will build their pools.

The city and two property owners reached a settlement that will allow the pools to be built to the old city code, prior to 2015 legislation that restricted the building of pools. Building inspector Dam Molina said plaintiffs E&R Enterprises and Thomas DePasquale have submitted building applications for their pools. Molina said DePasquale has begun construction; Richard Perry, one of the principals in E&R Enterprises, said construction on his pool will begin later this year.

In exchange for getting their pools, E&R and DePasquale dismissed lawsuits filed against the city in Delaware Court of Chancery with prejudice, meaning they cannot bring further suit against the city for the same claim.

The lawsuits began in August 2014. In the E&R case, Perry and business partner Edward Chrzanowski bought property at 200 Laurel St. and intended to build a home with a swimming pool. On Sept. 12, 2014, at a joint meeting of the city commissioners and planning commission, then-Mayor Sam Cooper suggested a moratorium on pool construction after residents complained about noise coming from large vacation rental homes with pools. Any building applications with pools had to be submitted before Sept. 19, when the commissioners would adopt a resolution setting the moratorium. By adopting the resolution, the moratorium was in effect pending legislation with the force of law.

E&R submitted its application Sept. 15 and after initially being told its application would be accepted, the city reversed its position and declined to review the application because of the moratorium. After failing to work out a settlement with the city at that time, E&R took their case to court.

E&R first filed suit in Court of Chancery, but the city had the case moved to U.S. District Court in Wilmington, where Judge Leonard Stark partially dismissed part of the suit but allowed the case to be remanded back to Court of Chancery. There the case lingered for years until the settlements were reached in late spring. The commissioners approved the settlements April 20, and after a 30-day wait period, the settlement documents became public in May.