Rehoboth Beach restaurants can increase dining patios

Silver Lake fountains to be turned off for now; new commissioners sworn in
September 20, 2022

Looking to provide more outdoor dining opportunities, Rehoboth Beach commissioners approved a 250-square-foot increase to the city’s outdoor dining patio regulations for private property. Restaurants are now allowed to have 1,000 square feet of outdoor patio dining.

The city was up against a self-imposed deadline of Nov. 1 before COVID-related outdoor dining allowances on private property expired. Back in the spring, commissioners approved an outdoor dining program for public space.

During a meeting Sept. 16, commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the expansion. Commissioner Toni Sharp began the voting by saying the change seemed reasonable and incremental. The city will have to keep a close eye on enforcement of the noise regulations, she said. Her fellow commissioners cited her reasoning as their reasons for voting in favor of the change.

Commissioners have been using the past few months to consider two main options – expanding patio space and permitting restaurant dining patios on an adjacent parcel not owned by the same property owner, which city code does not allow. Ultimately, commissioners decided to abandon the second proposal.

There was a public hearing prior to the favorable vote. 

Aileen Hearn, co-owner of Somewhere restaurant on the second block of Baltimore Avenue, said it’s obvious restaurants have benefitted from increased outdoor dining space seen over the past couple of years 

John Dewey, a Scarborough Avenue resident, said he understood the reason for the proposed increase to outdoor dining space, but the city needed to do a better job enforcing the noise ordinance before allowing for it.

Suzanne Goode, a Grove Street resident, said she recognized there was never going to be a totally fair solution because not all restaurants will be able to take advantage of the change, but was also in favor of it because she and others enjoy al fresco dining.

Rehoboth restaurants can increase outdoor dining, but it doesn’t happen automatically. Mayor Stan Mills said restaurants seeking an increase will still have to come before the commissioners for a public hearing related to amending the restaurant’s permit of compliance.

Silver Lake fountains to be turned off for now

Citing the unknown health impacts of spray in the air, commissioners voted 6-0 in favor of turning off the fountains in Silver Lake until an investigation can be done. Commissioner Edward Chrzanowski abstained from the vote.

The city installed the fountains roughly three years ago for primarily aesthetic reasons. Mills said he brought forward the issue because city staff has received several complaints from Silver Lake residents about the spray.

During the meeting, Interim City Manager Evan Miller said recent sampling done on the water in the lake showed different measurables were all within desirable ranges. He said the turbidity and total suspended solids were measured high, but the report said that could have been caused by the person moving around during the sampling process.

Two nonresidents, who live off Silver Lake, asked the city to keep the fountain on the west side of the lake.

Chrzanowski, Markert sworn in as commissioners

The Sept. 16 meeting began with Chrzanowski and Francis ‘Bunky’ Markert being sworn in as commissioners. The two men were the only people to file for two open seats in this year’s election. This will be Chrzanoski’s second three-year term and Markert’s first. Former Commissioner Susan Gay did not run for re-election.

According to city voting records, dating back to 1990, there have only been four other years without an election – 1993, 1998, 2010 and 2013.

Immediately following the swearing-in, the commissioners unanimously approved officers – Gossett will serve as vice president, Chrzanowski as secretary, City Secretary Ann Womack will be assistant secretary and Mary Moore will serve as treasurer.


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