BeachWalk appeals to city commissioners

Developer claims planners acted outside their authority
April 7, 2017

The developers of the proposed 63-unit BeachWalk project in Rehoboth Beach have appealed their case to the city commissioners.

In a letter to Mayor Sam Cooper, BeachWalk attorney Dennis Schrader said Beach Walk owner Keith Monigle has been aggrieved by the planning commission, which rejected the project in January after Monigle declined to submit it as a major subdivision.

In his letter, Schrader said the planning commission imposed major subdivision review on BeachWalk, which had originally been proposed as a condominium project with 58 single-family homes and five multifamily units. Schrader said the planners were bound by a board of adjustment decision from May that overturned building inspector Dam Molina’s ruling that said only one building could be located on a lot.

Schrader’s letter says the proposed application does not constitute a subdivision and there is nothing in the city code that states subdivision standards should apply to condos. Schrader said the planners failed to comply with site-plan review procedures in the city code by prolonging the preliminary review of the project and not holding a hearing on the site plan.

The BeachWalk project came up for preliminary review by the commission in August and faced opposition from nearby homeowners on Terrace Road, which runs adjacent to the 7.75-acre parcel, as well as city fire and police officials and state legislators, who opposed BeachWalk’s proposal to shut off access to the property from Route 1. Schrader was allowed a brief presentation as an introduction to the project, but did not give a full presentation.

At the preliminary review, the commission debated whether the project constituted a major subdivision and asked for legal briefs from Schrader and any other interested parties on why or why not the project was a major subdivision. In October, the briefs came in and the commission voted that Beach Walk was a major subdivision; the commission gave Schrader and Monigle time to determine a path forward.

In December, Monigle told the commission he had no intention of filing as a major subdivision, which Schrader echoed to the commission in January. Planning Commission Chairman David Mellen gave Beach Walk 60 days to make a decision on how it wished to proceed; if it did not, the commission’s decision to reject Beach Walk would be final for purposes of appeal.

Regarding the request for legal briefs, Schrader, in his letter to Cooper, said the commission acted outside its legal authority. He said the commission’s delegated powers do not include deciding legal matters.

Finally, Schrader said the commission’s continued deferral of a decision denied Monigle the use of the property for any lawful purpose and his right to have a timely, full and fair hearing on the application.

No hearing has been set for the appeal. City Solicitor Glenn Mandalas said he could not comment, while Mayor Sam Cooper said he was still trying to understand what is involved with the appeal. Mellen said the matter is not a legal issue and it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the case.