Supreme Cout ruling upholds Harbeson man’s right to have hobby garage

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The Delaware Supreme Court, without comment, upheld a Chancery Court ruling on a long-running lawsuit that pitted neighbors against a legless Harbeson man’s hobby garage.

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

A YouTube video from the Cape Gazette website generated more than one million views.

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

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Williams claimed that no money has 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.

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

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