Rehoboth Beach business owners are unanimous in their opposition to proposed city regulations on delivery trucks.
The city commissioners floated the idea of limiting summer deliveries to no later than 9 a.m. Over the years, the commissioners have discussed the issue off and on, mainly due to concerns about the trucks parking in the travel lanes to make deliveries, blocking access on busy streets like Rehoboth, Baltimore and Wilmington avenues. The Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce invited members to meet April 16 to weigh in.
Out of hand, business owners opposed a set deadline on deliveries.
Nick Caggiano Jr. of Nicola Pizza said Sysco, his main supplier, has indicated to him that it is impossible to complete all deliveries before 9 a.m.
“You’d have all the delivery trucks in Rehoboth,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Other restaurants are getting fresh products, which have to come when the product is ready. Susan Wood, owner of The Cultured Pearl, said if deliveries are pushed to the morning, trucks will pile into Rehoboth at night, likely leading to nighttime noise complaints.
Caggiano said early deliveries would also lead to staffing issues; restaurants would need extra people early, but their shifts would end by the time the restaurant got busy in the evening.
“It takes my guys an hour and a half to put it away. That means if they do it at 9 a.m. I’m going to need four or five guys there to unload my Sysco truck. They have to go home after eight hours, and I’m just getting busy at 6 p.m.,” he said.
Several restaurant owners who serve alcohol said state liquor laws make it difficult for them to get deliveries before 9 a.m.
Delaware Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner John Cordrey said state law allows wholesalers to leave their warehouses as early as 5 a.m. and deliver to retailers as early as 7 a.m., but retailers cannot be forced to accept deliveries before 9 a.m. Restaurants cannot serve alcohol until 9 a.m.
Caggiano said the town was not designed for the sheer number of restaurants Rehoboth now has.
“I’ve been here 53 years. It used to be half restaurants, half T-shirt shops. Now it’s three-quarters restaurants,” he said.
Carol Everhart, president and CEO of the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce, said she is unsure the delivery truck problem can be fixed. She said city officials have suggested measures such as making Baltimore Avenue a one-way street, but business owners objected.
Frank Cole, owner of Atlantic Cycle, said one-way traffic on Baltimore would not work.
“I’m not sure there is a solution and I’m not sure it’s a problem that’s solvable via ordinance. A lot of times the solution is worse than the original problem,” he said.
Cole said the police should better enforce ordinances that are already on the books.
Chris Bisaha, co-owner of The Blue Hen and Henlopen City Oyster House, said, “I don’t see what the problem is. Yes, there’s trucks. But it’s for a limited time. Those guys want in and out of this town as quickly as possible.”
The business owners suggested encouraging bicycling and mass transportation instead of cars, better parking options and designated parking areas for smaller trucks, such as UPS or FedEx trucks. They viewed the problem of delivery truck traffic as a sign of a robust local economy.
“The day we don’t have a delivery problem is the day we have a problem,” said Atlantic Liquors owner Dale Lomas.