Woodlands of Pepper’s Creek homeowners voice concerns over rental properties

 

DAGSBORO – Homeowners in a Dagsboro residential development were surprised to learn about rental plans of developer Fernmoor Homes’ for some properties in The Woodlands of Pepper’s Creek.

The homeowners are concerned and are asking the town of Dagsboro for help.

“We believe the council also thought this was going to be an owner-occupied facility,” said Dina Mach, president of The Woodlands of Pepper’s Creek Homeowners Association at the Sept. 18 town council meeting.  “We were floored by this.”

Ms. Mach said she has learned Fernmoor Homes has rental plans for eight homes under construction. She told council she has been in contact with the local Attorney General’s office and the attorney for the homeowners’ association.

Homeowners are concerned rental properties will lower the value of their homes. The Woodlands of Pepper’s Creek, located adjacent to the town’s Katie Helm Park, is a 12-acre wooded community that when complete will consist of 48 twin homes.

“Doesn’t this change our community makeup to a commercial enterprise because it is the developer renting out such a large lot of rental units?” Ms. Mach said.

Rob Witsel, Dagsboro’s town solicitor, briefly addressed the concerns but advised homeowners in attendance and council he needed time to research the facts.

“The code does not prohibit rental of residential real estate by anyone except for a person who does not have a rental license. There is no prohibition in the code for something like this,” said Mr. Witsel. “I have not looked at the site plan to see if there are any restrictions. It would seem to me that the only prohibition against rental would be in the developer’s own restrictive covenants that they have prepared and filed. I have not had occasion to review those. I would like a little bit of time to review the facts.”

“It is hard for the town then to enforce something because there isn’t anything in our ordinances that would govern this,” said councilman William Chandler. “There are cases where the Department of Justice has found that a deceptive trade practices act claim can be made with respect to the sale of real estate or condo units. So, your attorneys might want to pursue, research into that. That is one avenue. The same way with the Consumer Fraud Act, the options there. I am just signaling my own reticence to think that there is anything that the town of Dagsboro has in the way of any kind of ordinance, rule or regulation that could be applicable, even though my sympathies and empathies all go in the direction of the owners.”

“I think there is a big difference between owner-managed rental properties and someone else managing the rental property,” Mr. Chandler added. “That is just my own personal sentiment that I am expressing.”

Dagsboro Mayor Brian Baull asked Ms. Mach to provide materials, documents and information to town administrator Cindi Brought for Mr. Witsel, who plans after review to render his opinion at council’s Oct. 16 meeting.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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