One of the difficulties that any person faces when taking legal action to protect their rights is the taxpayers’ money that a governmental agency can use in pursuing pointless court proceedings.
The owners of the Dumser’s Dairyland property on the Boardwalk, the Nathan Rapoport family, are now in that position.
The family owned the property for the last 106 years. The owners of Dumser’s business property had to appeal a local judge’s decision to prevent Ocean City from taking their property.
The appeals court found that the mayor and his council supporters and a local judge did not produce sufficient evidence that the Dumser’s property was physically located within the public easement area when Ocean City was established.
Therefore, the Town of Ocean City could not arrogate the property where Dumser’s is located. Yet, the mayor and his council supporters can continue to pursue additional appeal proceedings
Simply put, the case was not about the location of owners of Dumser’s business property on the Boardwalk at Atlantic Avenue and South Division Street as it exist today, but as the location existed in 1876.
The appeals court found that “Critically, Ocean City did not call, at any time, a licensed surveyor or any other expert witness who could have testified as to the original boundaries of Ocean City as established by the 1876 deed or interpreted the plat in relationship to the property’s actual location on the ground and the streets in existence today.”
Instead, Ocean City witnesses included Terry McGean a civil engineer by training. However, he was precluded from testifying about the location of the original southern boundary of Ocean City as compared to the actual streets on the ground today, since Maryland law requires that an expert witness that discusses property locations has to be a professional land surveyor or a professional property line surveyor.
This had to be a major flaw in the legal argument of the Ocean City attorney.
The owners of the Dumser’s property put forth evidence of the location of the property as well as evidence of the landowner.
George Young testified on behalf of owners of the Dumser’s property as an expert in the field of professional land surveying. He performed a boundary line survey of the property and identified the physical location of the building.
The owners of the Dumser’s property also presented expert testimony from title abstractor Cynthia Todd. She described the process she undertook to research the title of the property. In other words, with an unlimited amount of money to spend on legal expert, the Ocean City attorney failed to present expert evidence as to the location of the property as it was located back in 1876.
Yet, the mayor and his council supporters can continue to pursue additional appeal proceedings.
Dumser’s has used the property since 1971. The mayor and his council supporters should question their attorney for failing to present expert testimony and, unless the mayor has a very important public reason for spending more of our taxpayers’ money on this case, no further legal action should be taken against the owners of the Dumser’s property.
Joseph H. Potter