Judges get Rehoboth court rulings correct
Actions from last week, the final week of September 2022, have the potential to shape redevelopment in Rehoboth Beach for years to come. In two separate court cases, judges affirmed a city board’s decision to allow for an increase in the floor-to-area ratio for one project, and agreed that the city’s one-building-one-lot ordinance applied to the other project.
In the case of the Belhaven Hotel, to be located on Rehoboth and Wilmington avenues, and the Boardwalk, Superior Court Judge Craig Karsnitz issued a ruling Sept. 26, saying the Rehoboth Beach Board of Adjustment did not err when it approved a variance request allowing the proposed hotel to exceed the allowable floor-to-area ratio by 50%. The height, the bulk, and the footprint of the building would be essentially the same under a FAR of 2 or 3, said Karsnitz.
In the case of BeachWalk, located off Route 1, a trio of Delaware Supreme Court justices issued a ruling Sept. 30, affirming a Court of Chancery ruling that Ocean Bay Mart LLC did not have vested rights to have its proposed 63-unit development considered as a condominium. They agreed that the development would have to go through Rehoboth Beach’s major subdivision process.
The developer has not made a showing of reasonable, good-faith reliance on statements made by government officials and past condominium projects, said the supreme court justices.
In both instances, the judges ruled correctly.
Property owners have the right to redevelop – within the boundaries of the code – their land how they see fit. They should be encouraged to bring forward aesthetically pleasing, creative designs that fit within certain standards related to how they reflect the city’s future plans, and bulk – primarily the city’s height restriction. If the property owners cannot or choose not to meet the code, it’s up to them to make a compelling case to the board of adjustment. Property owners should also work in good faith when dealing with the city, rather than try to find loopholes to exploit.