Rehoboth attorneys seek to dismiss BeachWalk case

City commissioners to decide in September
July 7, 2017

Attorneys for the Rehoboth Beach Planning Commission are asking the city commissioners to dismiss an appeal brought forth by the developers of a proposed 63-unit condominium development off Route 1.

They say the city commissioners do not have statutory jurisdiction to hear the appeal because the planners did not render a final decision on the project.

The action filed by city attorneys represents the latest twist in a long, winding road of actions blocking the way of developer Keith Monigle, doing business as Ocean Bay Mart LLC, to build a development known as BeachWalk at the site of the Rehoboth Beach Plaza shopping center off Forgotten Mile, across from Spring Lake.

Monigle, represented by attorney Dennis Schrader, filed building plans for BeachWalk in June 2015. The development was proposed as a 63-unit condominium complex built on a single lot, meaning the 7.75-acre parcel was not being divided into separate building lots. That meant BeachWalk would be subject to a site-plan review by the planning commission instead of a major subdivision, the difference being site-plan review has a less stringent standard of review, mainly to ensure the development does not have an adverse impact on the city’s health, safety and welfare.

In August 2016, BeachWalk went before the commission for a preliminary site-plan review, in which an application is reviewed to make sure it is complete and accurate before moving for a full review.

At the August review, the BeachWalk plans came under fire. Residents of the nearby Schoolvue area, mainly homeowners on Terrace Road, Lake Drive and Scarborough Avenue Extended opposed the project’s high density. Opposition was also raised by Rehoboth police and fire officials, who opposed both the project’s proposed plan to close the entrance to the property from Route 1, and the narrow, 20-foot roadways that would serve the interior of the property.

In October, the planning commission ruled that BeachWalk constituted a major subdivision and gave Monigle and Schrader time to determine their course of action. In December, Monigle told the commission he would not be filing a major subdivision, a position Schrader reiterated in January. The planners gave Monigle and Schrader a 60-day window to file a major subdivision application, after which the commission would take no further action.

A day after the 60-day window expired, March 21, Schrader filed an appeal with the city commissioners.

In the city’s motion to dismiss, City Solicitor Glenn Mandalas argues that the commissioners do not have jurisdiction to hear an appeal because no final action was taken by the planning commission, meaning the application was not approved or denied. Mandalas wrote that city commissioner appeals of planning commission decisions are to be heard on the record of the public hearing. But since BeachWalk did not advance beyond the preliminary review stage, the commissioners have no record to review.

Schrader said his answering brief was due July 7.

Mayor Sam Cooper said the commissioners would likely make a decision on the matter in September. He said one issue that has to be worked out is who is representing the city in the matter. While Mandalas wrote the city’s motion to dismiss, Cooper said the planning commission would be represented by Dewey Beach Town Solicitor Fred Townsend going forward, since Mandalas represents both the planning commission and the city commissioners.

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter