Ocean City Today

Iconic Dumser’s stand stays until matter settled in court

Ocean City officials won’t force eviction until appeal ruled on, likely next year
By Katie Tabeling | Oct 12, 2017

(Oct. 13, 2017) The iconic Dumser’s Dairyland stand on the Boardwalk will not close this year as per Worcester Circuit Court judge’s ruling, since the heirs to the property have taken the matter to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

“It’s going to be a long process from here on out, but I’m grateful for the public support. We’re going to be patient for our day in court,” said Mona Strauss, the granddaughter of Nathan Rapoport, who in 1966 struck a deal with the city to operate his restaurant on the publicly owned Boardwalk.

The ice cream stand has been the focus of public outcry after the city last year declined to grant another 25-year lease to Rapoport’s relatives, Nathans Associates. Instead, they told tenant and Dumser’s owner Don Timmons to vacate the property.

Nathans Associates took Ocean City to court over the matter and lost. Judge Dale Cathell ruled that Dumser’s would close on Oct. 31 and the property would be demolished by Dec. 31.

Nathans Associates attorney Albert G. Allen II asked the court to delay the ruling in August because he planned to appeal the decision and that demolishing the building in the interim would cause “irreparable harm.”

Cathell once again ruled in favor of Ocean City, but Mayor Rick Meehan made it clear that resort officials were willing to wait until the appellate court issued its opinion.

“[We] believe in the right to due process and we do not oppose Nathans Associates ‘motion to stay’ and no action will be taken,” Meehan said in a statement on Friday. “The building will not have to be vacated, nor any final decision on the building be made until after their appeal is ruled on. In all likelihood, this will not occur until sometime in 2018.”

From experience, Strauss said this process could take more than a year and thousands of dollars in legal bills.

“We went through something similar when the town tried to evict us in 1991 when the agreement was up,” she said. “That lasted 15 months and cost $30,000. But when they’re [the city] is wrong, they’re wrong. They’re totally misrepresenting the agreement.”

Rapoport had managed the property since 1912, but formed an agreement with Ocean City half a century later. Strauss said this was to issue a building permit and establish a formal method of payment for real estate taxes.

“He would donate $350 to the fire department for years before the agreement was made, because he didn’t have the deed and so he couldn’t pay taxes,” she said.

The 1966 agreement awarded Rapoport a building permit in exchange for paying taxes on the land’s assessed value of $4,000 at the time. Renewals were conditional on the mayor and City Council’s opinion “that the building is properly maintained.”

The agreement would be void 50 years after Rapoport and then Mayor Hugh Cropper signed the document, which was Sept. 20, 1966.

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