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Lewes, Delaware
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February 4, 1994     Cape Gazette
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February 4, 1994

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8 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, February 4 - February 10, 1994 Restaurant owners sue Dewey; disagree with ruling on Waterfront relocation By Denise M. Marshall The owners of The Waterfront and Coconuts restaurants in Dewey Beach have filed yet another lawsuit against the Town of Dewey Beach. Filed in Delaware Chancery Court in Sussex County last week, the latest suit alleges that the Dewey Beach Town Commission- ers unlawfully denied the plain- tiffs' request to relocate The Waterfront Restaurant onto the property where Coconuts Restau- rant is located. Defendants named in the suit include: the Town of Dewey Beach; Mayor James Lavelle; Commissioners Robert Frederick, Faith Duncan, William Tansey and James Bracken; and Karen Ulrich, the town's building offi- cial. Plaintiffs include: Kejand, Inc., which owns the Coconuts' proper- ty located at Dagsworthy Street and Rehoboth Bay; Daisy's Incor- porated, which leases the Kejand property and operates Coconuts Restaurant; and Lisa's Sailboats, which leases the property where The Waterfront is located. Lisa's Sailboats operates The Water- front, which is situated next to Coconuts at McKinley Street and Rehoboth Bay. Plaintiffs Donald and Jane Monigle, of Rehoboth Beach, are shareholders of all three corpora- tions. Plaintiffs D. Keith Monigle, D. Kerry Monigle, and Thomas Robinson Jr. are shareholders of Kejand and Daisy's. Lisa's, which founded The Waterfront in 1980, rents the land on which the restaurant is situated from the Dewey Beach Lions Club. Under the lease with the Lions Club, Lisa's pays a mini- mum rental of $58,000 per year plus a percentage rental on receipts in excess of $1.3 million, according to the suit. Mayor Lavelle is president of the Lions Club. The Monigles must notify the Lions Club by July 31 whether or not they plan to renew the lease for another five years. If the Monigles renew the lease, the extension would expire on Feb. 16, 2000. To avoid the loss of their busi- ness upon the expiration of the Lions Club lease, as well as to begin using money now spent on rental payment for capital improvements, the Monigles and Robinson want to relocate The Waterfront onto the adjoining Coconuts' property. The plaintiffs planned to build a new restaurant on the Coconut's property and to relocate The Waterfront business into that building. The existing Coconuts Restaurant would be moved east- ward to make room for the new building. After The Waterfront was con- structed, the town incorporated - and zoned the property resort resi- dential. The restaurant has been permitted to continue to operate as a non conforming use in the resi- dential district. The Monigles and Robinson purchased the Coconuts' property for more than $1 million in 1990. The bay front parcel is zoned resort business, which is Dewey Beach's sole commercial district andthe only district in which restaurants are permitted. In the early 1990s, the town adopted a new restaurant ordi- nance which mandates, that all new restaurants receive condition- al use approval by the Town Com- missioners. The conditional use process involves at least one public hear- ing and the commissioners may place special conditions upon their approval. In addition, the commissioners have the authority to revoke their approval if the applicant violates the conditions of approval. This past November, the com- missioners adopted another law which provides that all new restaurants must obtain a "certifi- cate of compliance" from the Town Commissioners following a public hearing. The ordinance states that in cas- es where an existing restaurant's fiquor license is being moved to a new location in town, "no hearing shall be required" if the town administrator determines that the new restaurant is substantially the same as the existing restaurant. The ordinance further states that: "the relocated restaurant must comply with all zoning require- ments and procedures applicable to its new location except as to any non conforming rights." Karen Ulrich, the town's new building official, has determined that new restaurants are only per- mitted as conditional uses under Dewey Beach's restaurant ordi- nance. She .has informed the Monigles that they would still need to obtain conditional use approval from the commissioners before they could relocated The Waterfront. The Monigles disagree with Ulrich's interpretation and main- tain that the ordinance clearly allows existing restaurants to "relocate and take with them all their pre-existing non conforming rights, including their status as non conforming uses rather than conditional uses," according to the suit. "The Town's stated interpreta- tion of the ordinance ignores the clear language of the law, adds words not in the law, ignores plaintiffs' non conforming proper- ty rights, is illogical, and is clearly wrong," the suit states. Mayor Lavelle noted that Ulrich made the decision to require the Monigles to obtain conditional use approval from the town before they can relocate The Water- front. Ulrich's interpretation was Lewes firemen respond to fire alarm in Cape High's Little Theatre By Kerry Kester Lewes Fire Department was once again summoned to Cape Henlopen High School when a teacher on the second floor report- ed the smell of smoke to the school's office. Students were immediately evacuated from the building, and no injuries were reported. School office personnel then traced the smoke to the little theater's stage, where Chief Cus- todian Ronson Burton discovered that an overstuffed chair being used as a play prop was afire. The 11:55 a.m. call to the Lewes Fire Department on Wednesday, Feb. 2 was not the first one from the school since the new year began. "We've been in there a couple of times since the beginning of the year," says Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Charles Stevenson. Some of the previous fire calls to the school this year were classi- fied as criminal incidents, says Stevenson. His office has been investigating the earlier fires that were set to posters on the school's walls, and some other small fire- related incidents. "'It's an active investigation, and we're also dealing with some oth- er aspects of other incidents," says Stevenson. "We don't have knowledge that they are connect- ed, but we're not ruling it out." The state fire marshal's office is not commenting on whether it has suspects in the case. High School Principal Ran Bur- rows is trying to assist in the investigation. "Whoever it is, is endangering our lives," says Bur- rows. The school is offering a $50 reward for anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator. According to President of the Lewes Fire Department, Lou Rickards, the fire's primary dam- age was from smoke. He said that by 1:32 p.m., after the department used its pressure fans and smoke : ejectors, 95 percent of the smoke had been ejected from the school. Rickards would like to remind people that in the event of a fire, the first step to taking care of the problem is to notify 911. Anyone with information about the fire should contact the state fire mar- shal's office at 856-5600. supported by Dewey Beach Town Attorney James A. Fuqua Jr. "The commissioners have made no decision on this,', Mayor Lavelle said. "The mayor and commissioners did not get involved at all." The Monigles must obtain agency approvals for their plans prior to July 31, which is the dead- line for exercising their option to extend the Lions Club lease for another five years. The last time the Delaware Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (ABCC) meets in Sussex County before July 31 is on April 22. Although Ulrich has informed the plaintiffs that they can appeal her interpretation to the town's Board of Adjustment, the plain- tiffs maintain that the board is impartial since its members are appointed by the Town Commis- sioners. They have asked the court to order the town not to interfere with their plans to relocate the restaurants and to award them legal fees. The Monigles' attorney, Eric Howard, declined to comment on the suit. CONTEMPORARY DINETTE 5-piece, all-wood set in a natural finish. Also available in washed finish. 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