COVID-19 may have forced the cancellation of almost every planned event in Rehoboth Beach in 2020, but at least for now, property owners seeking to demolish old homes aren’t being deterred.
The city’s annual moratorium on demolitions ended Tuesday, Sept. 15. In advance of that date, the city recently issued six new demolition permits for properties around town, issued a second permit for one house that didn’t get demolished prior to the moratorium’s May 15 start, and re-noticed a permit for a property whose owner asked for an extension because of COVID-19.
The city issued a permit Aug. 17 for a two-story, single-family dwelling and an accessory structure located at 21 Saint Lawrence St. The demolition of this house was inevitable. The Rehoboth Beach Planning Commission approved the partitioning of the 100-by-100-foot lot it sits on during a meeting in June. According to the paperwork submitted for the partitioning, the plan was to always to demolish the house.
The city issued a number of additional new permits on Aug. 17 – one for a one-story, single-family dwelling at 124 Stockley St.; one for a two-story, single-family dwelling and an accessory structure at 9 Fourth St.; and one for a two-story, single-family dwelling and an accessory structure at 110 Norfolk St.
Not all the permits issued Aug. 17 were new. The city issued one for a two-story, single-family dwelling at 209 Lake Drive, which is the second permit issued this year for the property. One was also issued in March.
The city also recently re-noticed a permit issued Feb. 20 for a one-story, single-family dwelling and an accessory structure at 39 Columbia Ave. According to the new notice, the applicant requested to defer the demolition in May due to COVID-19.
The city issued a permit Aug. 24 for a two-story, single-family dwelling and an accessory structure at 506 Bayard Ave.; a permit Aug. 25 for a one-story, single-family dwelling at 305 Country Club Drive; and a permit Aug. 28 for a a two-story, single-family dwelling and an accessory structure at 206 Laurel St.
The continued pace of demolitions in Rehoboth wasn’t lost on Planning Commissioner Michael Strange, who, during a planning commission meeting Sept. 11, said the city’s planning department has seen a signification amount of revenue from demolitions. According to Building Inspector Damalier Molina’s monthly report prepared for the meeting, the city has seen roughly $111,000 in revenue from demolition permits. Molina said the demolitions were unfortunate because there are not any historical preservation actions being taken.
Also, said Planning Commissioner Jeff Trunzo, it’s not green demolition. What’s being done is environmentally disastrous, he said.
Planning Commissioner Barry Covington said he agreed with Trunzo, but also he also didn’t think all the demolitions were necessarily a bad thing because some of the houses need to be torn down. Using his property as an example, he said the house was built around 1930 and had asbestos and lead everywhere, which was why he had it demolished and built new.
Historically, August is the busiest month for issuing demolition permits. According to data provided by the city and then updated by the Cape Gazette, there have been 49 permits issued in August since 2012. The next three highest months, all in the mid- to high 20s for permits issued, are October, November and March.
This list doesn’t include the demolition of the Shell House in early August. The century-old beach mansion was built by Margaretta Lammot duPont Carpenter and her husband, Robert Ruliph Morgan Carpenter, in 1920. Located at 2 Penn St., the property sits just south of the Rehoboth Beach city boundary.
Permits issued annually since April 2012:
- 2012: 14
- 2013: 15
- 2014: 23
- 2015: 23
- 2016: 30
- 2017: 30
- 2018: 27
- 2019: 34
- 2020: 17 to date
Permits issued by month since April 2012:
- January – 19
- February – 12
- March – 24
- April – 8
- May – 6
- June – 3
- July – 9
- August – 50
- September – 28
- October – 26
- November – 17
- December – 11