Rehoboth moves ahead with setback ordinance

Public hearing could be held as early as Oct. 18
City Solicitor Glenn Mandalas, left, and Mayor Sam Cooper discuss an ordinance that would set proportional side yard setbacks for lots larger than 50-by-100 feet. BY RYAN MAVITY
September 16, 2013

Rehoboth Beach officials could set a date for a public hearing as soon as Friday, Sept. 20 on an ordinance that would create proportional side yard setbacks for lots larger than 50-by-100 feet.

Mayor Sam Cooper said should the first draft of the ordinance meet the commissioners’ satisfaction, city officials will move ahead with adopting a resolution setting a public meeting for Friday, Oct. 18.

The commissioners agreed to a recommendation by the planning commission for proportional side yard setbacks for lots larger than the standard 50-by-100 feet. Planning Commission Chairman Preston Littleton said the commission undertook the issue in reaction to large houses being built on larger lots that dominated the streetscape.

“It was essentially unfair to the neighbors to be faced with what happens on a 50-foot lot happening on the bigger lots,” Littleton said.

Under the new ordinance, the required setbacks would be determined by multiplying the current side yard standard of six feet, and the current aggregate sideyard setback of 16 feet, by a factor determined by dividing 50 into the front footage of any lot exceeding 50 feet. For example, the factor for a lot with 100 feet of frontage would be 100 divided by 50, or 2. The side yard setback for such a lot would be 12 feet [six feet x 2] while the required aggregate for both setbacks combined would be 32 feet [16 feet x 2].  For a lot with 75 feet of frontage, the factor would be 1.5 [75 divided by 50].

Existing lots would be grandfathered in, but would have to conform to the new regulations or get a variance if the house is being significantly altered. Commercial lots would be excluded. While it was discussed at the commissioners’ Sept. 9 meeting, the commissioners would not impose a moratorium on building on lots larger than 50-by-100 feet, Cooper said.

At the Sept. 9 meeting, Cooper said, “I’m totally in agreement with the idea of increasing the setbacks for wider lots.” Still, Cooper said details of an ordinance still had to be worked out, although the commissioners were optimistic the final draft would be ready.

One of those issues is corner lots, which the planning commission originally was not going to include in its recommendations, but ultimately decided to include. While the issue generated plenty of discussion from the commissioners, what sort of parameters would be put on corner lots was still unresolved. Cooper said while nothing has been worked out, corner lots will be included in the ordinance.