Museum seeks variance to hang Dolle’s sign

Dec. 27 hearing set for Boardwalk mainstay that’s legal, nonconforming
December 3, 2021

Story Location:
Rehoboth Beach Museum
511 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

The saga related to the future home of the Dolle’s sign in Rehoboth Beach will continue with a board of adjustment hearing Monday, Dec. 27, during which the Rehoboth Beach Museum will be seeking a variance so it can mount the sign to the west side of the building.

Roughly a year ago, Dolle’s owner Tom Ibach announced his shop would be changing locations, and the sign would be coming down. A couple of months ago, the museum announced it was willing and able to take the sign when it’s removed from its Boardwalk perch – which needs to be done by the end of the year.

During a city commissioners workshop in early November, RBM Board President David Mann said putting the sign on the roof of the museum would not be possible. However, he said, it might fit on the building’s facade facing the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, but that would require a variance from the board of adjustment.

The city issued a notice Nov. 30 for a board of adjustment meeting Dec. 27. The museum is seeking a variance from two portions of city code related to signs – allowable size and the mounting of wall signs.

City code says no sign in a commercial district shall exceed 100 square feet on a side. According to the variance request, the Dolle’s sign is 12-feet-6-inches tall and 29-feet-6-inches wide – roughly 367 square feet.

City code also says wall signs shall be lower than 25 feet and may not extend beyond the limits of the wall. As proposed, the Dolle’s sign would exceed both of those limitations.

In an email Dec. 1, Mann declined to comment on the upcoming hearing. The museum is in a city-owned building, and he wants to make sure the museum does everything correctly.

“It is a significant undertaking, and we have to go by the book,” said Mann.

There was some question during the commissioners workshop about whether the museum would be able to meet public notice requirements in time for a board of adjustment hearing in December. 

Rehoboth’s board of adjustment typically meets the fourth Monday of the month. However, said City Secretary Ann Womack during the November board meeting, the city also typically doesn’t have any meetings the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, which is why one had been tentatively scheduled for Monday, Dec. 20. There was a discussion by board members about availability in December, and the Monday after Christmas was better for most of them.

In an email Dec. 1, City Solicitor Glenn Mandalas said the public notice requirements call for a hearing to be noticed in a newspaper at least 15 days in advance of the hearing. So whether the meeting was Dec. 20 or Dec. 27, there likely would have been time to properly notice the sign hearing, he said.

The sign needs to be removed from its current location by the end of the year. During the commissioners workshop, Mann said the museum would pay the estimated $30,000 for removal and reinstallation of the sign.

Mann said there’s not a specific date set, but that process will be weather dependent. The sign will be stored temporarily in the city’s storage yard off Roosevelt Street until it can be installed, he said.

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