An Ocean City landmark ice cream parlor will exist at least a while longer, according to town officials.
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said “no action will be taken by the town of Ocean City until a final decision is made by the Court of Special Appeals,” meaning Dumser's Dairyland does not have to vacate by its Oct. 31 deadline.
A motion to stay in operation had been filed, but it was denied on Oct. 2.
The century-old, iconic Boardwalk property was poised for removal or demolition by the end of this year after a Worcester County Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of Ocean City in July. The decision was the culmination of a land dispute between the town and Nathans Associates, heirs to the original property owner, Nathan Rapoport.
"As long as we have been a part of the fabric of the Boardwalk, I never imagined that this could happen," said Mona Strauss, granddaughter of Nathan Rapoport, in August. "We are planning an appeal."
According to Meehan's statement, a decision will not likely be made on that appeal until 2018.
“The town of Ocean City believes in the right to due process and we do not oppose Nathans Associates’ ‘motion to stay,’” Meehan said.
In May 2016, near the end of a second 25-year contract with Nathans Associates, the town wrote the Rapoport heirs demanding they vacate the property by Sept. 20, he said.
That's when the parties went to court.
Ocean City Solicitor Guy Ayres said in August that the Rapoport heirs — now Nathans Associates — filed a complaint in Worcester County's circuit court just before that deadline that alleged they owned the property by "adverse possession."
"Adverse possession," Ayres explained, is when someone occupies someone else’s property under some claim of ownership for a period of at least 20 years. Nathans Associates had essentially said that the town had abandoned its interest in the property and, in doing so, abandoned its legal ownership.
In a letter to The Daily Times, published on Aug. 24, Dumser's Dairyland owner Don Timmons said, "there is no circumstance under which we will ever be a tenant of the city."
The judge’s decision, in addition to ordering the removal of the building by Dec. 31, stipulated that the structure must be vacated by Oct. 31.
The decision led to a social media-driven petition on change.org to save the building that has garnered more than 10,400 signatures.
Following a Town Council meeting during which the petition was brought forward, Meehan said the town had nothing against Dumser's.
"Our legal issue was with the Rapoport Trust, Nathans Associates — it has never been with Dumser's," Meehan said Aug. 18. "And what we're trying to do is resolve that issue in the best interest of our taxpayers and those we're responsible to represent."
According to a Dumser’s manager, the parlor’s Boardwalk location is typically closed by Thanksgiving.
“Normally we’d be closing up completely around the end of November, and generally that store will be open only on weekends after October or so, depending on the weather,” said Tim Sperry, a manager at the 49th Street Dumser’s.