The moving of homes in the area’s coastal towns is a relatively common occurrence, but a house move scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 11, led to the arrest of a Bethany Beach man.
According to Bethany Beach police, 55-year-old resort resident Joseph DelMedico attempted to block a crew from moving a home down Wellington Parkway on Tuesday. DelMedico is alleged to have stood in front of the house while it was in motion and physically attempted to prevent it from moving forward.
PFC Joanna Reynolds, public information officer for the Bethany Beach Police Department, said DelMedico’s actions caused a hazard to himself and the moving crew. She noted that a permit to move the house had been issued by the Delaware Department of Transportation and that Wellington Parkway was a designated route for the move.
Bethany Beach police responded to the dispute between DelMedico and the moving crew. DelMedico was arrested for disorderly conduct, arraigned at Magistrate Court #3 and released on unsecured bond for a later appearance in the Court of Common Pleas.
When contacted by the Coastal Point, DelMedico, who resides on Wellington Parkway, said he had been assured by Bethany Beach officials prior to the incident that homes would no longer be moved down his street.
DelMedico produced a letter from Bethany Beach Police Chief Michael Redmon, dated April 2004, in which Redmond said he had discussed with representatives of the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) the issue of using Wellington Parkway as a designated moving route for homes.
That conversation came after DelMedico had complained to the town manager’s office about the use of the road and safety issues he believed the house moves posed.
The letter from Redmon further states that the town had recommended to DelDOT that Oakwood Street be used as the designated route for moving homes through the area, instead of Wellington Parkway. Redmon’s letter also indicates DelDOT officials had agreed to the change.
It was with that assurance behind him that DelMedico was surprised to find a home moving down his street — the same street he had been assured would not be used for such activity — that Tuesday in early January.
Beyond providing the letter from Redmon, DelMedico stated only that he had been injured during his protest and was consulting with an attorney. He said he was unaware of what might have happened to bring the home down Wellington Parkway after the apparent agreement between DelDOT and town officials. DelMedico declined further comment on the matter, citing legal concerns.
Town Manager Cliff Graviet referred comment to the town’s police department. Bethany Beach Public Safety Officer Ralph Mitchell explained the events from the police department’s view.
“The chief had contacted DelDOT about that previously, and they had agreed not to use Wellington Parkway as a route of travel,” Mitchell said. “However, this time they did use it — for what reason, I don’t know. … There are times when they have to go down particular routes.
“It was a designated route. It was on the house-moving permit,” he emphasized.
Wherever the fault lay, Mitchell said he did not believe that whatever circumstances brought the house down Wellington Parkway on Jan. 11 mitigated the issues surrounding DelMedico’s protest.
“Even if there was an error somewhere, it did not give him the right to go stand in the road and prevent the house from moving,” Mitchell said.
As to how the town received assurance that homes would not be moved down Wellington Parkway but then witnessed exactly that some eight months later, Mitchell said, “DelDOT designates the route. The town does not. But we will be re-contacting them.”
The discrepancy between the town’s apparent understanding with DelDOT, according to Redmon’s letter, and what actually happened Jan. 11 was explained by Tina Shockley, spokesperson for DelDOT.
“Originally there was a permit for a house that was moved in April 2004. We had a different administrator over the hauling permits at the time and the police chief said they would prefer us not to use that route,” she said. “A new person then took over the permit section; and this time, the application came in for the permit, but we didn’t flag (the route),” she said.
Shockley confirmed that the issue of homes moved on Wellington Parkway would not be allowed to slip through the cracks again.
“The new director has met with police department and agreed that we will definitely make note of it this time,” she said.