By expediting the required public hearing process, Dewey Beach officials developed recommendations and voted unanimously Sept. 16 to approve a conditional-use permit and an application for restaurant permit of compliance to construct and operate a new Grotto Pizza in less than a month.
Grotto Pizza attorney Stephen Spence first presented plans to commissioners Aug. 19, when he requested they approve the applications without referral to the planning and zoning commission.
Town commissioners denied the request to veer from procedure, but instead scheduled meetings and public hearings as quickly as possible within required public notice timeframes. The planning and zoning commission recommended conditions at its Sept. 10 hearing and referred them to town commissioners.
Spence said the restaurant will have a 17-seat bar and will not have outside service areas or a take-out window. Exterior garage-style and rollback doors will be closed by 11 p.m. nightly, and there will be no external speakers, live entertainment or areas for stand-up consumption of alcohol.
A wheelchair-accessible ramp will be available on the Read Avenue side of the restaurant, Spence said, and the exterior of the property will be cleaned each morning and evening.
Demolition of the old Grotto Pizza on Coastal Highway, just across Read Avenue from the new site, will begin immediately, Spence said, with a target opening date by summer 2023.
A related application to rezone the property at 106 Read Ave. from business to residential and to amend the comprehensive plan map accordingly was also approved. The property was originally the Grotto Pizza parking lot, Spence said, and was purchased by Jeffrey and Lily Gosnear for residential use.
Commissioner David Jasinski said rezoning makes sense because the property is no longer going to be used with the Route 1-facing commercial property and it abuts residential property on its other side.