Clear Space, theater complex opponents enter into mediation

With new public hearings scheduled, former AG Gebelein agrees to help groups reach consensus
January 12, 2021

Story Location:
Clear Space Theatre Company
415 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

In an effort to reach a consensus on how to move forward on a proposed Rehoboth Avenue theater complex, Clear Space Theatre Company and the appellants against the current plan have entered into mediation.

News of the planned mediation was revealed during a planning commission meeting Jan. 8. Commissioners held a brief discussion to make sure the things they needed to conduct a second round of public hearings were in order. The city’s planning body has been required to conduct the public hearings for the two-build complex at 413, 415 and 417 Rehoboth Ave. because city commissioners found the planning commission’s August approval of the proposed site plan was invalid. During an appeal hearing in November, city commissioners determined the public hearings in August shouldn’t have happened because Clear Space hadn’t provided all the required information in a timely fashion.

Former Delaware attorney general and retired Superior Court Judge Richard Gebelein will be the mediator. During the meeting, appellant Jan Konesy asked the planning commission to postpone the public hearings at the end of January to a later date to give the mediation effort enough time.

At least for now, that request to delay was denied by the planning commission. City Secretary Ann Womack said she had already sent out public notices to nearby property owners and other required public notices.

Clear Space Executive Director Wesley Paulson said he was also against delaying the public hearing until at least after the first round of mediation. The judge has indicated he’d be able to determine if there was an amicable path forward after the first meeting, he said.

In an email Jan. 9, Paulson said Gebelein was a referral from Konesy and other appellants. Wesley declined to say when the date was for the first round of meditation. However, in a prepared statement, he said Clear Space looks forward to working with the appellants and the mediator.

“It offers both parties the opportunity to address concerns with the help of an independent professional. I am hopeful a successful mediation with the appellants will facilitate discussion for the planning commission at the hearing,” said Paulson.

During the commission meeting, City Solicitor Glenn Mandalas said it was good Clear Space and the appellants were going through the mediation, but ultimately the results of that mediation were not the planning commission’s concern. He said the job of the planning commissioners is to determine if Clear Space has met the requirements to move forward as they’re set out in city code.

The Clear Space public hearings are set to begin at 1 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29.

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