Rehoboth board reaffirms building official’s decision

Second-floor enclosed deck found to require more parking space
December 9, 2019

Story Location:
240 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach  Delaware  19971
United States

For the second time in four months, the Rehoboth Beach Board of Adjustment voted to affirm the building inspector’s decision that a proposed second-floor deck for 240 Rehoboth Ave. would increase the property’s gross floor area, triggering the need for an additional parking space.

The initial affirmation happened in August. The board voted to rehear the case in October after the building inspector issued a notice in September saying that enclosed spaces of decks, balconies and porches will be counted toward a building’s floor-to-area ratio. The notice said all applications submitted prior to that date would be reviewed under the previous code interpretation.

Board Vice Chair Linda Kauffman began the rehearing by asking City Solicitor Glenn Mandalas why the second hearing was taking place. She said it was clear the original application was submitted prior to the September notice.

Mandalas said the notice should have specifically said applications for residential properties, but it did not. Ultimately, the board agreed with Mandalas and chose to move forward on the rehearing.

Representing applicant Sussex Exchange Properties LLC, attorney David Hutt argued the code is ambiguous and because of that the board should rule in favor of the property owner. It’s ambiguous enough, he said, that city staff was interpreting it differently, and Mayor Paul Kuhns described it as ambiguous in an Oct. 11 issue of the Cape Gazette.

Kauffman said she didn’t think the code was ambiguous, adding she wasn’t putting a lot of weight in the mayor’s comments. The mayor doesn’t know the code as well as the people on this board, she said.

Kauffman, board Chair Jerry Capone and board member Barry Brandt voted to affirm. Board members Lou Katz and Walter Cassel voted against affirmation. The back-and-forth discussion between the board and Hutt last for more than an hour. Prior to voting against, Katz said the discussion was the definition of ambiguous.

Variance hearing postponed

Prior to the rehearing for 240 Rehoboth Ave., the board voted unanimously to postpone a variance request for a corner lot on East Lake Drive and Prospect Street.

Property owners Bradley and Kathryn Rozansky have requested a variance to allow both front and rear setbacks to measure 10 feet on the lot. City code calls for a minimum setback of 15 feet.

Capone said there was no reason given for the requested postponement, noting the city had received a note from the property owner’s attorney shortly before the meeting began.

The city’s building and licensing department has recommended denial of the request. According to a department report prepared Oct. 22 for the hearing, “the allowance would not offer any major addition of buildable square footage and a designer/architect should have no problem designing the residence to conform to existing setback requirements.”

No date was set for the future hearing, but Kauffman requested it not be put on an agenda until at least the January meeting because there are already two hearings set for the December board meeting.

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