Final Chancery ruling OKs hobby garage in Sussex County

Delaware Vice-Chancellor Samuel Glasscock, III may have written the final word on a long-running  lawsuit that pitted neighbors against a Sussex County man’s hobby garage.



The case, which made national news,  pitted Charles Williams, has against neighbors who were not happy with the pole building that housed the garage.


A YouTube video from the Cape Gazette newspaper/website (see above) is on its way to generating one million views.

The video resulted in widespread condemnation of the neighbors, who said that Williams continuing to operate the garage would set a bad precedent.

Williams claimed that no money  had changed hands when he works with his friends on cars. Williams has no legs after being injured in a construction accident.

Inspections by Sussex County officials had detected no violations, according to Glasscock’s opinion.

Glasscock seemed to express   annoyance with the prolonged litigation. He had earlier issued an opinion  that set the stage for a final finding.

“This matter has been, unfortunately, heavily litigated and it has undoubtedly consumed more of the parties’ resources than a neutral observer might think efficient or reasonable,” Glasscock wrote. “The matter was tried for two days and what I consider to be the primary issue—whether Williams’ pursuit of his hobby constituted a nuisance-in-fact—was resolved in a Memorandum Opinion of June 23, 2016.”

Plaintiffs had continued to argue in court and in the Cape Gazette video  that the building, which Williams fixed up with old-time automotive signs, violated county zoning codes. The dispute, which has been going on for six years, took on bitter tones, with a sign indicating that Jesus would punish Williams for his actions.

Plaintiffs have the right to appeal, but barring a serious  legal error, the parties would face and uphill fight.

The legal battle does reflect a changing Sussex County, with residents  less tolerant of the rural environment that has typically allowed greater latitude in land use by farmers and others.

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