After more than a year of work, Rehoboth Beach commissioners unanimously approved a number of changes to the city’s wireless facility design standards manual. The 15-page document gives city staff guidance on the application approval process for when wireless communication companies are seeking to install new antennas.
The city first approved the design manual in late 2019 and began exploring revisions midway through last year.
As approved, the manual includes five design zones – residential, commercial, central corridor, Boardwalk and Boardwalk adjacent.
The manual provides the order of priority from most preferable to least preferable design. Other changes include limiting the height of the antenna canister to three feet; not allowing ground-mounted equipment to exceed 36 inches in any dimension; not allowing pole-mounted equipment to exceed 12 cubic feet in volume, be wider than 24 inches or protrude more than 12 inches; and requiring antennas to be 30 feet from the nearest residential dwelling, 20 feet from the nearest commercial structure, 250 feet from the nearest elementary school and park, 300 feet from another antenna owned by the same company, and 100 feet from a different company’s antenna.
Commissioners did authorize changes to the approval process that weren’t discussed at previous meetings. The first change gives the city manager the power to designate a staff member to determine if a proposed small wireless facility complies with the manual. The second allows the city manager the power to consider deviations from the manual on a case-by-case basis. A third change modifies the wireless technology zoning map to include a small area near Deauville Beach that was inadvertently left out of previous versions.
City Solicitor Glenn Mandalas said the city’s board of adjustment wouldn’t hear a variance request on these applications because the board is designed to deal with issues on private property, not public space. This language will be used for situations the city didn’t think of, he said.
Mayor Stan Mills acknowledged that changes will need to be made to the manual in the future, but this change gives that power to the commissioners. If it doesn’t work, there will be changes, he said.
Commissioner Toni Sharp said it was important to get the changes to the manual on the books, because the communication companies don’t always have the city’s best interests at heart.
Prior to the vote, commissioners conducted a public hearing, and city resident Michael Strange, a Federal Communications Commission-licensed technician, voiced his concerns over a couple of the proposed changes. First, he said the city’s design manual specifications are so loose that he didn’t think any city manager should be allowed to grant a deviation. Strange also said the city should include language related to the use of best available technology that is economically achievable. As an example, Strange conducted a side-by-side comparison of the meter box allowed by the manual compared to available meter technology, contrasting the typical meter box with one that fit into his coat pocket.
This hundred-year-old technology is not as accurate, said Strange, holding up the larger meter. The code is only going to get increasingly liberal because technology is going to keep getting smaller, he said.
Interim city manager to see pay increase
City Manager Sharon Lynn announced in March she would be leaving city employment effective Friday, May 6. A few weeks later, commissioners appointed Assistant City Manager Evan Miller as interim city manager. At the time of the appointment, Miller was the city projects manager; he was promoted to assistant city manager as part of the city’s budgeting process. His promotion went into effect with the start of the new fiscal year April 1.
During the April 14 meeting, after an executive session, commissioners voted unanimously in favor of increasing Miller’s salary by $3,000 a month while the city finds a new city manager. The prorated increase is retroactive to April 18 and continues until four weeks after the hiring of the new city manager.
Above the Dunes permit of compliance approved
Commissioners approved a permit of compliance for Above the Dunes, the restaurant taking over The Greene Turtle’s Boardwalk location. The application for a modified floor plan was submitted by owner Robert Frankis, who opened the Greene Turtle with business partner Mike Venanzi in the early 2000s.
No more tiered parking rates for Deauville Beach
In advance of paid parking going into effect Sunday, May 15, commissioners removed a tiered rate parking system for large vehicles in the Deauville Beach parking lot. As approved, the daily rate for parking in that lot is now $50 for any vehicle, trailer or any connected combination of the two that is 22-feet-3-inches long or longer; 8-feet-one-inch wide or wider; or both.