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New Castle County v. Pike Creek Recreational Services, LLC

Court of Chancery of Delaware, New Castle

December 30, 2013

NEW CASTLE COUNTY, Subdivision of the State of Delaware, Plaintiff, Respondent,
PIKE CREEK RECREATIONAL SERVICES, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, Defendant, Petitioner.

Submitted: November 21, 2013

Max B. Walton, Esquire, Connolly Gallagher LLP, Newark, Delaware, Bernard V. Pepukayi, Esquire, County Attorney, New Castle County Office of Law, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorneys for Plaintiff/Respondent.

Richard P. Beck, Esquire, A. Kimberly Hoffman, Esquire, Peter B. Ladig, Esquire, Morris James LLP, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorneys for Defendant/Petitioner.



I. Introduction

On September 6, 2013, the Court issued an opinion (the "Opinion") on the Parties' cross-motions for partial summary judgment, in which the Court granted both in part, denied a motion to intervene, and dismissed a mandamus petition.[1] In the Opinion, the Court held that the 1964 Agreement and the 1969 Amendatory Agreement (collectively the "Master Plan"), requires Pike Creek Recreational Services ("PCRS") to set aside a minimum of 130 acres which could be conceivably developed as an 18-hole golf course.[2] After the Court issued the Opinion, the Parties filed the three motions decided here.

In its Motion for Clarification and/or Limited Reargument, New Castle County (the "County") asks the Court to detail the procedure for enforcing the Opinion's holdings. The County argues that in order to comply with both the Master Plan and the County's Unified Development Code ("UDC"), [3] the Court should require PCRS to: (1) subtract the 130-acre set-aside from the gross site area of any non-golf course development plan it proposes; and (2) submit a separate land development plan for a minimum 130-acre, 18-hole golf course. PCRS opposes the County's Motion both on procedural grounds, i.e. that the County's prayers for relief raise new arguments that were not made in the dispositive motion briefing, and on substantive grounds, i.e. it is sufficient that PCRS set aside a minimum of 130 acres because compliance with the Master Plan does not require PCRS to submit a land development application for a hypothetical golf course.

PCRS's first motion seeks: (1) Rule 60(b)[4] relief from the Opinion; (2) deconsolidation of the Superior Court action (the "Mandamus Action") and the Chancery Court action (the "Chancery Action"); and (3) substitution of New Castle County Council ("County Council") for the County as the real party in interest. PCRS argues that new, previously undiscoverable evidence supports a finding that the County, the captioned party in this litigation, and County Council, which is the named third-party beneficiary of the Master Plan, are different entities with different rights and divergent interests which could prejudice PCRS if County Council claims it is not bound by the Court's decisions. PCRS urges the Court to relieve PCRS of the Opinion's holdings, substitute County Council as the "real" party in interest, and decouple the Mandamus Action so it may file thereto a direct, rather than interlocutory, appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court. The County argues it is the proper party to bring this action.

In its second motion, PCRS asks the Court to equitably stay the time periods of §§ 6.03.12 and 40.31.113 of the New Castle County Code "through the date of a final, non-appealable order or other final disposition of this action as well as the pending Certiorari Actions."[5] PCRS argues for a rule that would allow equitable tolling, from the issuance date, of a temporary or initial building permit, where a legal challenge to the legitimacy of that permit prevents the developer from taking further action within the period of time required by the applicable code. The County challenges the motion as not ripe and as seeking a remedy that violates the law.

For the reasons described below, the County's Motion is GRANTED in PART, while PCRS's two Motions are DENIED.

II. Factual and Procedural Background

A review of this case's extensive factual history is set forth in the Opinion.[6] The Court heard oral argument on each of the Parties' post-opinion motions on November 21, 2013. This is the Court's decision on those three motions.

III. The County's Motion for Clarification or ...

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