Rehoboth is set to begin updating its state-mandated comprehensive development plan, expected to be complete by July 2020. To get the process rolling, on Dec. 14, the city planning commission hosted a joint kick-off meeting with the board of commissioners.
Officials said the meeting was intended to get both groups on the same page and to get everybody ready for what will be a labor-intensive process over the next 20 months.
City officials have hired Maryland-based KCI, which has offices in Newark and Dover, to oversee the process. Debbie Pfeil, KCI associate and planning manager, said the company has completed 12 comp plans for other Delaware municipalities and is working with eight more.
Pfeil said the state has a checklist of requirements, and because Rehoboth’s population is close to the 2,000-person threshold that triggers a more extensive plan, KCI will err on the side of caution and include additional information as part of the plan’s scope.
To date, Pfeil said, KCI has conducted an analysis of staff and commission strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. She said moving forward, KCI has planned four joint meetings, three meetings for the planning commission only, three staff meetings, a public outreach event and three additional meetings if needed.
The next step is to launch a public survey, she said, tasking the planning commission and board of commissioners with examining survey questions used by other municipalities and selecting ones they like or coming up with their own.
She cautioned that the longer the survey, the fewer responses they’ll receive, suggesting 20 to 25 questions.
According to the schedule Pfeil proposed, the next time KCI will be in front of the planning commission is during another joint meeting in March, when the company will unveil demographics it has compiled for Rehoboth.
For the most part, city officials appeared satisfied with Pfeil’s presentation, but planning commissioners Susan Gay and Rick Perry noted KCI’s plan moving forward does not include scheduled meetings with community groups.
“I’d like to get people involved as soon as possible,” said Perry.
Preaching patience, Pfeil said the issue can be examined after the data is presented.
After the meeting, City Manager Sharon Lynn said the city budgeted $20,000 for the plan in the current fiscal year and is expected allocate another $60,000 in next year’s budget to pay for KCI’s services.