Swimming pools are associated with summertime fun, but Rehoboth Beach officials say new pools in residential areas are overwhelming their quiet neighborhoods.
The Rehoboth commissioners have agreed to a joint meeting with the city’s planning commission, which has been discussing the issue for several months. No date has been set.
Planning commissioner David Mellon said at the commissioners’ June 20 meeting, several homeowners complained about pools and their construction. Mellon said the new pools are built at large, single-family homes that max out a 50-by-100 foot lot. Many of these homes and pools are used as short-term rentals, Mellon said.
In a letter to the planning commission, read at the commission’s June 13 meeting, John and Leah Rodgers, 45 Oak Ave., said two rental homes near their property on Park Avenue had swimming pools, a hot tub with jets and outdoor speakers. The Rodgers’ said one home sleeps 16 and the other sleeps 20. They said the voices of renters have to be loud to be heard over the spa jets, the pool pump and music.
“There is an echo effect, and the noise bounces back to the adjacent properties. Planting trees around the pool has no effect on lessening the sound. Having neighbors speak to the renters about the noise does not solve the problem. This situation is a concern for several of us on Oak Avenue,” the Rodgers’ wrote.
Dottie Tanner, who also lives on Oak Avenue, said while she did not wish to vilify swimming pools, the noise that comes with them has become a problem.
Besides noise, Mellon read a report by planning Commissioner Mike Strange saying pools amount to a second foundation that is not calculated in a home’s floor-to-area ratio. Strange said new homes with large heights, numerous rooms and swimming pools have become more and more commercial in nature. He said these homes are more in line with commercial accommodations than single-family homes as imagined in the residential zoning code.
“There were important issues not related to health, safety and welfare, but also as to how the city’s residential areas are being developed,” Mellon said. “These are issues that go throughout the code. They don’t just deal with the zoning. They affect noise. They affect safety. They affect parking. They affect free space.”
Mellon said the commission sought a joint meeting to discuss the issues, assign responsibilities and discuss what direction to take. While the commissioners were open to meeting on the issue, Commissioner Mark Hunker had words of warning.
“We need to be really careful,” he said. Hunker said many property owners have pools and use them properly. "We’re going down a slippery slope here,” he said.
Cooper said the complaints were that these properties were producing a lot of noise, loud music and bright lighting. For Cooper, the problem is, “Can you regulate noise and keep the pools?”
He said it is not the city’s intention to ban swimming pools, but he admitted he did not know how to solve the problem.