Last year, at the height of debate over Rehoboth’s nativity scene, a creche erected in The Circle in Georgetown was cited again and again by Rehoboth’s Christian community as a case of if-they-can-do-it-why-can’t-we. That won’t be the case this year because Georgetown town code now prohibits unattended structures or displays on The Circle.
In an email Nov. 25, Georgetown Town Manager Gene Dvornick said town procedures and policies are reviewed throughout the year. In 2019, the town reviewed and modified its permit application and policy for The Circle, he said.
“There have been instances where unattended displays have been placed on The Circle and became safety issues,” said Dvornick. “The town’s policy on unattended displays does not just apply to religious displays; it applies to any and all unattended displays.”
Dvornick said the town communicated the change in policy to potentially impacted parties.
Dvornick said in addition to the new prohibition, the town added prioritization of applications and clarified closure of The Circle.
According to a copy of the policy Dvornick provided, applications shall be prioritized in the following order: town sponsored events; other governmental or public health/safety related events; special events that are open to the public without charge; special events for which there is a charge.
In an email Dec. 1, Rehoboth Mayor Paul Kuhns said he was aware Georgetown was discussing the change to its policy, but he had no comment on the change. He said there’s no chance Rehoboth will change its mind about allowing a nativity scene on city property.
Next up in Rehoboth’s nativity scene saga is the Community Unity Dinner, scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 8, in the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center.
It was during last year’s dinner that debate over the nativity began. St. Edmond Catholic Church representatives asked Kuhns and City Manager Sharon Lynn about placing the nativity scene at the Bandstand. The next day, and without city permission, the 3-foot-tall styrofoam figurines were put in place.
Kuhns said he and a majority of the commissioners will be attending the dinner.