Renovations to a detached apartment are on hold after the Rehoboth Beach Board of Adjustment continued a hearing on a variance request at 49A Lake Ave.
The board unanimously voted to continue the hearing after attorney John Paradee, attorney for owner Frank Perna, handed out a binder full of materials that the board had not seen prior to the hearing.
Perna wants to completely renovate the garage-style apartment behind the main house on the property. However, a 2001 agreement between the city and a previous owner specified that the building was approved as an office and cannot be used for habitation at all, building inspector Terri Sullivan said. She said the zoning code requires 3,300 square feet for each dwelling unit on the property. Because the lot is not 6,600 square feet, a second dwelling unit is not allowed on the property, Sullivan said.
Despite that, she said, the city incorrectly issued a rental license in 2006 for the garage apartment. Sullivan said when she discovered the apartment should not have been granted a rental license, she told Perna the current license would not be renewed in July.
City Solicitor Glenn Mandalas said at the board’s Sept. 23 meeting that it was only when Perna applied to make modifications to the rear building that the city became aware a rental license should not have been granted.
“I don’t think this particular owner is a wrongdoer in any way,” Mandalas said. Still, he said, Sullivan is doing her job in not allowing a rental license to continue that should not have been granted.
When asked by board solicitor Craig Karsnitz how the rental license was issued in the first place, Sullivan said, “The only thing I can come up with is that they (building and licensing) did not go to the file, because it was very clear in the file that it couldn’t be issued.”
On that basis, she did not issue a building permit for the proposed renovations. Sullivan was not the building inspector at the time the rental license was issued.
Paradee was appealing Sullivan’s decision to not issue a building permit, and in the alternative, seeking variances that would allow a second dwelling unit on the property and grant a rental license for the garage apartment. When it came time for his presentation, Paradee presented binders of information to the board as part of his case. Chairman Tom Evans told Paradee needed to have that information to the board 15 days in advance of the hearing.
Paradee apologized to the board and to his client for not having the information in advance and agreed to a continuance.
After the meeting, Paradee said Perna was not aware of the 2001 agreement and purchased the property with the understanding that the apartment could be rented. He said Perna relied on the good faith of the city that the rental license was valid. Paradee said the apartment is in need of renovations after a water line to an icemaker on the second floor ruptured, causing severe water damage and mold to the first and second floors.
The board will rehear the case at the board’s November or December meeting. Evans said the most likely date would be Monday, Dec. 16.