Due to mapping inconsistencies found between the county and city databases, the deadline to complete Rehoboth Beach’s 2020 Comprehensive Development Plan has been pushed back another year to July 2022.
During a planning commission meeting May 14, Debbie Pfeil, a planning manager for KCI, the consultant hired by the city to help navigate the document-creation process, said a mapping analysis of city and county records found 133 discrepancies, nearly half of which are properties lining the beach and lakes. She said the discrepancies were noticed in the fall, and that she gave a presentation on the information to the state in April, which is when the city was granted the year extension.
This is the second year-long extension for Rehoboth’s comprehensive development plan. Facing a completion deadline of July 2020, the city began working on the document in December 2018. A reorganization of the planning commission and COVID-related delays forced the city to ask for an extension to July 2021.
Pfeil said correcting the discrepancies is important because acreage and parcel data is used when writing the land-use chapter. Also, she said, there could be confusion, which could lead to controversies.
Pfeil said resolving the issues could mean meetings with property owners. If all the discrepancies can’t be resolved by the new deadline, the city will have to put a disclaimer in the plan, she said.
During the meeting, Jeffrey Trunzo, planning commission chair, voiced his support for the extension. From the state to the city, folks at all levels of government are adamant the maps need to be as accurate as possible, he said.
Looking forward, Pfeil said she expects to have an internal rough draft of the document by the end of August, with the goal of releasing it to the public for comment by the end of the year. In an effort to maximize public input, a 90-day comment period has been worked into the schedule, she said, with a public hearing in May 2022.
The city originally budgeted $80,000 for KCI to complete its work. Lynne Coan, city spokesperson, said the city’s contract with KCI has been extended at a cost of roughly $40,000 - $31,200 for additional work on the plan, and $8,000 to assist with mapping.
Delay in rezoning request for 330 Rehoboth Ave.
After the update on the city’s comprehensive development plan, planning commissioners turned their attention to a rezoning request by the property owners of 330 Rehoboth Ave.
Under the name 330 Hospitality Group LLC, Bette Gallo, founder and president of Gallo Realty, and Don Lockwood, owner of Milton-based Lockwood Design and Construction, asked the planning commission for a favorable recommendation to city council for rezoning to C-1 commercial roughly 19,500 square feet of the parcel that’s R-1 residential along State Road. The parcel also has about 23,000 square feet of C-1 commercial along Rehoboth Avenue.
This is the second time the planning commission has seen this request. In August 2019, a similar request was made by Lockwood, but the commission delayed action until after a lawsuit with J.J. Stein III Inc., the property owner at the time, was settled. In the end, Gallo and Lockwood purchased the property for $4.2 million in January.
At the time of the original rezoning request, Lockwood had submitted plans for a 90-room hotel on the corner parcel called Rehoboth Grand. Those plans were not resubmitted as part of the May 14 rezoning request, which concerned multiple planning commissioners because of how broad the city’s code is in what’s allowed in a C-1 zone.
Planning commissioner Lee Weber said he remembers a lot of opposition to the original rezoning request and that he would want an ironclad assurance of what was going to happen on the property.
Recognizing the code’s broad allowances, city solicitor Glenn Mandalas said it would be difficult to find any C-1 parcel that would be a good fit for all the possibilities allowed.
Attorney David Hutt said the proposed plans for the property had not changed, but it was a new application, not a continuation of the previous submittal.
Ultimately, planning commissioners decided to wait on making a recommendation until there was a plan for the property officially submitted.
Hutt said he would be back before the planning commissioners as soon as possible, which could be as early as the June meeting.