Rehoboth planners seek to dismiss Beach Walk appeal

No date set for hearing
September 13, 2017

The Rehoboth Beach commissioners are moving forward with a motion to dismiss brought by the town planning commission against an appeal by the developers of a proposed 63-unit development at the Rehoboth Beach Plaza shopping center off Route 1.

At a Sept. 6 special meeting, Fred Townsend, representing the city, said the commissioners will first hear the planning commission’s motion to dismiss. He said that hearing should be held as soon as possible, but no date has been set. Townsend said should the motion to dismiss be denied, the commissioners would then proceed with a hearing on the appeal.

Townsend, normally the Dewey Beach Town Solicitor, is representing the Rehoboth commissioners because Rehoboth’s solicitor, Glenn Mandalas is representing the planning commission in its motion to dismiss.

Besides determining a path forward, the commissioners unanimously voted not to allow several residents who live around the Beach Walk property to be party to the motion to dismiss. Among those who sought status were James and Carol Tello of Terrace Road and Joe Filipek, Marti Cochran and Larry Richardson of Silver Lane.

Commissioner Stan Mills said granting party status is not necessary and would not contribute to the case.

This is the latest battle in the controversy over the proposed Beach Walk condominium development. First brought to city building officials in June 2015, Beach Walk is proposed as a residential development with 58 single-family units and five multi-family units on a 7.75-acre parcel. The plan was not to subdivide the property, but to consider Beach Walk a condominium, all on one parcel. That meant Beach Walk would be subject to the site plan review ordinance and not under the more stringent, detailed major subdivision laws.

The project immediately drew opposition from residents of nearby Terrace Road, Scarborough Street Extended and Silver Lane for its density. Police and fire officials opposed proposed 20-foot travel lanes and state legislators opposed the plan to close access to the property from Route 1, making the only access via Terrace Road.

In October 2016, the planning commission ruled Beach Walk is a major subdivision and asked Beach Walk owner Keith Monigle and his attorney, Dennis Schrader, to apply as a major subdivision. In December, Monigle told the commission he had no intention to do so and wanted to continue the site plan review of plans he has submitted, a position Schrader reiterated the following month.

The commission gave Schrader and Monigle 60 days to submit a major subdivision application. If they did not, the commission announced it would take no further action. Sixty days later, Schrader appealed to the city commissioners, followed by the planning commission filing a motion to dismiss, saying the commission did not approve or disapprove the application. Schrader called that interpretation creative, saying that by taking no further action, the commission in fact denied Beach Walk’s application.