After years of wrangling, it doesn’t appear there will be an end any time soon to the legal issues surrounding the proposed BeachWalk development in Rehoboth Beach.
During a special meeting April 8, Rehoboth commissioners voted in favor of moving forward with an appeal of Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley’s decision to deny the city’s motion to dismiss a case filed by developer Keith Monigle.
The unanimous 6-0 vote came after nearly two hours of executive session that stretched over two special meetings and another hour of public testimony.
In addition to moving forward with an appeal, commissioners also voted unanimously in favor of moving forward an ordinance confirming that ordinances passed in 2016, codifying that only one building could be built on a lot, apply to projects and applications pending as of the date of adoption.
Many speakers during the special meeting were property owners from the neighborhoods surrounding the BeachWalk site who spoke out against the proposed development when it was first introduced in 2015. Neighbors continued to say they want the aging Rehoboth Beach Plaza redeveloped, but not with the proposed 63 units on less than 10 acres of land, with narrow, unsafe driving lanes.
Multiple speakers said a development of BeachWalk’s size and scale would result in a modern-day ghetto.
One person opposed to BeachWalk wasn’t a neighbor, but he said this development has ramifications on future lots in other areas of the city. Scarborough Avenue resident John Dewey lives across the street from the Walls’ Apartments, which are scheduled to be demolished for single-family homes soon. He urged commissioners to aggressively pursue actions that will assure high-density developments are not permitted within the city.
The commissioners need to consider not only the immediate neighbors of BeachWalk, but also those of future developments, Dewey said.
The only person to speak in favor of allowing BeachWalk to move forward as proposed to the planning commission was attorney Eric Hacker, representing Monigle. He argued that moving forward with an appeal and application of the proposed ordinance was succumbing to mob rule.
Hacker said Ocean Bay Mart’s 2015 application complied with city code at the time, and had the right to have the application approved.
“If you start applying the law prospectively, I would submit that you should not submit the ordinance that’s been proposed today. You should submit an ordinance that repeals all hundreds of pages of your zoning code and replace it with a single sentence. If you want to do something legal with your property, please apply to the town so we can see if your neighbors agree,” said Hacker. “That is what you’d be allowing.”
Following the commissioner vote, as they made their way out the front doors of city hall, Monigle and Hacker declined to comment any further.
“I think enough was said,” said Monigle.
Commissioners are expected to officially vote on the ordinance during their next meeting, which has been scheduled for Wednesday, April 24.