Rehoboth forms stormwater utility task force

No mayor-commissioner disagreements this time; accessible parking lawsuit resolved
February 21, 2022

Story Location:
Rehoboth Beach City Hall
229 Rehoboth Avenue.
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

After roughly a year in the making, and without any of the residual drama from previous meetings, commissioners voted unanimously Feb. 18 in favor of the membership for the city’s new stormwater utility task force.

As approved, there will be 13 members on task force, 12 of whom are eligible to vote. Mayor Stan Mills said the task force’s first meeting has not yet been scheduled, but it will happen soon. A contractor hired by the city to help facilitate the discussion has estimated it would take six meetings for the task force to reach its goal, and those meetings would be done by mid-July.

There are more than 2,000 stormwater utilities across the country, and three in Delaware – Wilmington, Newark and Lewes Board of Public Works. Similar to water or sewer utilities, stormwater utilities assess a fee on their users. For stormwater, the fee is most often assessed using a property’s impervious cover as a basis.

There are at least two projects on the city’s 5-year capital improvement plan waiting for this utility to be created – the design and construction of a stormwater basin in the area of Kent, Cookman and Sussex streets that has an estimated price of $1.4 million, and stormwater improvements on Bayard Avenue that are expected to cost roughly $1 million.

Adequate accessible parking lawsuit resolved

A lawsuit filed against Rehoboth Beach claiming the city doesn’t provide adequate accessible parking in the commercial district has been resolved.

In April, plaintiffs Brigitte Hancharick, Ilse Payne and Robert Payne filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court claiming the city does not provide sufficient accessible public street parking on Rehoboth Avenue and the blocks abutting it. The lawsuit argues the plaintiffs, and other people with disabilities, are harmed by denying and excluding them from a public service in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The case was sent to mandatory mediation late last fall.

During the meeting’s city solicitor report, Glenn Mandalas said there was still some paperwork to turn in, but practically speaking, the issue has been resolved. The city has agreed to add a total of 15 new handicap parking spaces over the next three years – nine in 2022, three in 2023 and three in 2024 – and the city will not be paying the attorney fees of the plaintiffs.

It was a case the city could have won, but no one would have been left feeling good about themselves, said Mandalas. This is a low-cost solution that doesn’t involve much more than the city repainting some areas, he said.

Change to permit of compliance application deadlines

Commissioners also voted unanimously in favor of changing the required number of days in advance a permit of compliance application must be submitted for commissioners to conduct a hearing on the matter. As approved, applicants must now submit paperwork more than 30 days in advance of the meeting. The application deadline had been 25 days.

The request came from City Secretary Ann Womack, who said 30 days allows her more time to meet the deadlines of the media she’s required to work with for posting the public notices of hearings associated with the permit of compliance.

Mills said this change had been brought up before, but for some reason wasn’t followed through on.

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