Attorney: Proposed Rehoboth Boardwalk hotel is appropriate

In other business, planning approves partitioning request, delays action on rezoning request
November 25, 2022

Story Location:
1 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

The Rehoboth Beach Planning Commission got its first look at a new 60-room hotel facing Rehoboth Avenue and the Boardwalk Nov. 14, and while comments were generally positive, there were also some concerns raised.

Grotto Pizza and Onix Group, a real estate developer from Kennett Square, Pa., are proposing to build a mixed-use building with retail space on the first floor and 60 hotel rooms on three stories above. The property fronts the Boardwalk, stretching the entire block from Rehoboth Avenue to Baltimore Avenue, and comprises the former Dolle’s site, the Sirocco hotel, Kohr Bros. ice cream and Grotto Pizza.

Attorney Vince Robertson, representing the developers at a concept review before the planning commissioner Nov. 14, said the Sirocco is uninhabitable and what’s currently there is a hodgepodge of uses. When complete, the 60-room hotel will be the smallest on the Boardwalk, modestly sized and appropriate, he said.

Robertson described the pedestrian-level commercial space as having garage-door-style openings, similar to Funland on the south end of the Boardwalk. The main entrance and all deliveries will be on the Baltimore Avenue side of the hotel, and there will be a pool behind the hotel that is not visible from the street, he said.

Plans for the hotel call for a floor-to-area ratio of 2.76, which is greater than the code-allowed 2. Robertson said much of the excess is related to the hotel room balconies and pool, both of which are included in the calculation. The size and scale is similar or smaller to the hotels on the north end of the Boardwalk, with an improved design, he said.

Given the macro-level nature of the concept review, planning commissioners kept their comments mostly to themselves. However, concerns were raised related to building in a flood zone, emergency entrances and exits, coordinating construction with the city related to a new beach patrol building on Baltimore Avenue, and a few code-related issues.

Robertson agreed there were details to be ironed out, but he said that would be done during the planning commission’s official site-plan review. This project needs to happen, he said.

Robertson said a variance request will go before the board of adjustment as soon as it can. There is a board of adjustment meeting Monday, Nov. 28, but the request was not submitted in time for that meeting. The agenda for the board’s December meeting has not been published.

Partitioning request granted

Prior to the Grotto hotel discussion, the planning commission conducted some old business, beginning with a request to partition the lots at 7, 9 and 11 Cookman St. into two lots. As proposed, the partition would include lot 7 and the easterly portion of lot 9 to become one lot of 6,285 square feet, and the westerly portion of lot 9 and lot 11 to become one lot of 6,277 square feet.

Planning commissioners conducted the preliminary review in October and held a public hearing in November. Prior to unanimous approval by the commission, Commissioner Michael Strange said he couldn’t find anything objectionable with the request.

Rezoning request delayed

Immediately following the Cookman Street hearing, the planning commission continued discussion related to a rezoning request by Rehoboth Auto Repair owners Richard and Stephanie Marsch. The couple have requested to rezone 20663 Coastal Highway from C3 commercial to C1 commercial. The property is immediately west of their auto repair business in the Forgotten Mile. Richard said the business would like to put two more mechanic bays where a house stands on the property. City code does not allow for an auto repair shop in C3.

An issue of concern for planning commissioners is a thin strip of land between the Marsch’s two properties that’s part of the Rehoboth Beach Plaza development. Richard said he’s tried to get the owner of that property to sell the land, but he hasn’t been successful. 

James Lisehora lives off Scarborough Avenue Extended. His backyard abuts the property in question to the north. He voiced concern about the encroachment of noise – even more car alarms going off and towed vehicles being dropped off in the middle of the night. C3 is there for a reason, and it’s to act as a buffer between residential and C1, said Lisehora.

Ultimately, the planning commission decided to delay making a recommendation to city commissioners until the applicant provides more information on future plans. No time frame was set for when the request will be revisited.

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