Rehoboth commission delays Clear Space decision

Group to resume discussion Feb. 5; public record still open
January 30, 2021

Story Location:
Clear Space Theatre Company
415 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

Round two of public hearings on Clear Space Theatre Company’s proposed Rehoboth Avenue complex took place Jan. 29. Unlike the original public hearing in August, however, the planning commission deferred a vote to a future meeting to allow for the continued evaluation of the public record and for more written public comment to be submitted.

The planning commission is scheduled to resume the public discussion Friday, Feb. 5. Planning Commission Chair Jeffrey Trunzo said, if needed, the planning commission will hold another meeting before voting.

Clear Space, currently located on Baltimore Avenue, has been in a years-long process to get a new home approved at 413, 415 and 417 Rehoboth Ave. Originally introduced as one building, Clear Space is now working on a two building project – Clear Space Theatre, a 256-seat traditional theater at 415, and for Rehoboth Spotlight, a rehearsal theater at 417.

By a 7-2 vote, the planning commission approved the proposed site plan for the two-building project in August, but a number of people appealed the decision to the city commissioners. During an appeal hearing in November, city commissioners determined the public hearings in August shouldn’t have happened because Clear Space hadn’t provided all the required information in a timely fashion.

Trunzo, who was vice chair at the time of the August hearing, started the hearing by saying he thought the public record had been sufficient to conduct the hearings.

The public hearing portion began with Dr. Laura Mason, Clear Space vice chair, who said the project meets all legal requirements, would be a good addition to the city and is in full compliance with the city's existing comprehensive development plan. Additionally, she said a traffic study shows the new theater would add 14 to 20 new vehicles to the city.

Mason finished her comments by quoting the comprehensive development plan.

“A downtown area that only has restaurants, clothing stores and gift shops is not a downtown,” said Mason.

The majority of the members of the public who spoke were against the proposed project under its current vision. As in previous meetings, concerns include noise, parking, egress and ingress, fire safety and lighting.

Putting this theater here is like putting a square peg in a round hole, said resident Jan Konesey, who has previously served on the planning commission. Clear Space is fixated on what they want, but it simply doesn’t work, she said.

Resident Harvey Shulman, also a former planning commissioner member, said parking is required on-site because Clear Space conducts hundreds of education-related services every year and city code requires on-site parking for institutions with those services.

“If nobody likes it, the answer is to go to the city and get the code changed,” said Shulman. “All I’m asking you to do here, and I think a lot of people are asking you to do here, is uphold what the zoning code says.”

Resident Cindy Lovett lives off Canal Street and spoke in favor of the project. She said residential property owners on the west end of town have been spoiled because most of the commercial activity in Rehoboth has been focused toward the east end of town. That’s changing and now life is heading this way, she said.

Following the public hearing, Clear Space Executive Director Wesley Paulson said he was pleased with the conduct of the meeting.

“Our board vice chair Dr. Laura Mason and I were able to reinforce the earlier planning commission decision that Clear Space and Rehoboth Spotlight are permitted uses in the city. I look forward to the next phase of the hearing on Feb. 5,” said Wesley.

The public hearing is done, but the written record remains open through the end of the business day Tuesday, Feb. 2. Written comments can be submitted to City Secretary Ann Womack at

The meeting is scheduled to continue at 1 p.m., Friday, Feb. 5. The meeting will be conducted virtually. A full agenda and meeting materials are accessible on the city's portal at

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