It appears, for now anyway, the proposed Belhaven Hotel on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk can move forward through the city’s regular approval process.
A 30-day appeal window regarding a judge’s decision in a lawsuit challenging the Rehoboth Beach Board of Adjustment’s approval of a variance request for the proposed hotel has passed with no appeal by the plaintiff.
The hotel was first introduced in 2019 by father and son owners John and Alex Papajohn. About a year ago, the city’s board of adjustment approved a variance allowing the hotel’s floor-to-area ratio to be 3. City code says the maximum is 2. Soon after, Francis “Bunky” Markert, who is now a city commissioner, appealed the board’s ruling to Delaware Superior Court.
In late September, Superior Court Judge Craig Karsnitz ruled the board of adjustment did not err when it approved the variance request. Markert had 30 days from Sept. 26 to appeal Karsnitz’s ruling.
Markert said he’s disappointed with the judge’s decision, but he does not plan to appeal. The Belhaven still has to go through review by the planning commission, as other projects will have to go through board of adjustment and planning commission review.
“We hope that these bodies enforce the code as written, and protect the city from unreasonable overdevelopment,” said Markert in an email Nov. 2.
City Solicitor Glenn Mandalas confirmed no appeal was filed in the case. Consequently, he said, that litigation is fully resolved and the board of adjustment’s granting of the variance has been affirmed.
The property for the proposed hotel sits in one of the city’s most visible commercial areas – the southeast corner of Rehoboth Avenue and the Boardwalk. The project has an address of 2 Rehoboth Ave., but the property fronts the Boardwalk to the south property line of Grotto Pizza, encompasses all the Rehoboth Avenue commercial space west to the property line with Go Fish, and stretches south to Wilmington Avenue.
Alex Papajohn, in an email Nov. 2, said he and his family are pleased there will be no further legal challenges to the variance, and they’re looking forward to making progress on the project.
Mandalas said Belhaven developers have submitted plans based upon the variance they obtained, and those plans are being reviewed by the building and licensing department. After that review, the plans will go before the planning commission, he said.
So far, said Alex, there is no indication when the project will appear on a planning commission agenda.
The planning commission’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 14. As of press deadline Nov. 3, the agenda had not yet been posted.