A Delaware Superior Court judge is expected to rule on a complicated legal case that could rearrange the boundary lines along Terrace Road in Rehoboth Beach.
The land in play amounts to only 3 to 6 square feet, but the implications being fought out in court could create a domino effect for 18 properties on the north side of Terrace Road, including land pegged for the entrance to the controversial BeachWalk housing development.
The dispute is between landowners Martha Dell Finlator and Alice Robinson over two conflicting surveys. One survey was measured from a concrete post in Silver Lake. Another survey, completed on behalf of Robinson, measured from a similar post on land. Finlator is seeking a court ruling on where exactly her boundary line is measured from and whether land that Robinson has claimed as hers actually belongs to Finlator.
When the two landowners could not solve the dispute, Finlator filed a lawsuit in Superior Court.
Robinson’s attorney, Vince Robertson, filed a motion to dismiss the suit, claiming that more than just Finlator’s property would be affected by any change in boundary lines, and those other landowners are not represented in Finlator’s suit.
In response, Finlator’s attorney, John Sergovic, filed a second lawsuit, this time on behalf of the other property owners, creating two separate, but related suits - with the second suit assigned to a second judge.
At a Nov. 7 hearing in Georgetown, Judge Andrea Roccanelli was exasperated by all the different legal action. She suggested the two cases be merged under her jurisdiction for simplicity’s sake. But Robertson wished to seek a ruling on his motion to dismiss the Finlator case, stating that Sergovic can refile the case with all the affected property owners involved. Roccanelli reluctantly agreed, and promised a decision within 90 days.
The strip of land on the north side of Terrace Road is known as Silver Lake Shores and was subdivided in 1929. The land has been in the prominent Robinson family for generations: J.T. Robinson created the original subdivision for his three children, who included Robert Robinson Sr., former publisher of the Sussex Countian newspaper, who died in 2017.
After his death, Robinson Sr.’s land was passed on to his wife, Battle Robinson. Her son, Rob Robinson Jr., is the head of the Sussex County Public Defender’s Office.
Another member of the family, Mary Robinson Monigle, is married to Keith Monigle, owner of the 7.75-acre Rehoboth Beach Plaza shopping center. That parcel has been proposed for redevelopment as BeachWalk, a 63-unit condominium development that is the subject of a suit in Delaware Court of Chancery over whether the city is allowed to enforce an ordinance, passed after BeachWalk submitted plans in July 2015, that would only allow one building on a lot.
BeachWalk has been controversial in part because it is proposed as 58 single-family homes and five apartment-style units, which the city of Rehoboth has argued constitutes a major subdivision.