Despite the expressed disappointment of three commissioners, Rehoboth Beach Mayor Stan Mills has decided to not reappoint Planning Commission Chair Rick Perry.
Mills announced his intentions the day he was sworn in Sept. 18; they became official during a special commissioner meeting Oct. 5.
Commissioners Pat Coluzzi, Richard Byrne and Edward Chrzanowski said they disagreed with Mills’ decision on Perry, who had been chair for the past year.
Perry has worked incredibly hard and brought a strong skill set to the planning commission, said Byrne. It’s very disappointing and troublesome after all the work he’s done, he said.
There’s not been a more engaged committee person, said Chrzanowski.
Perry wasn’t the only planning commissioner not reappointed. Mills also didn’t nominate Mark Hunker, who was appointed by former Mayor Paul Kuhns in October 2019. At the time of his appointment, Hunker, who owns Baltimore Avenue’s Jam Bistro and Eden Restaurant, was neither a resident nor a property owner.
In response to the concerns about Hunker’s eligibility, commissioners approved wording that requires potential planning commission members to be residents, property owners, registered voters or persons eligible to register to vote.
In August, a number of property owners sent a letter to the planning commission saying he was not on the list of registered voters in this year’s election and that he didn’t qualify as a person eligible to vote because he didn’t meet the definition of a leaseholder.
Hunker disputes that he wasn’t reappointed. In an email Oct. 9, Hunker said he took the one-year appointment on the planning commission at the request of Kuhns. He said he did not want to serve for a longer period of time.
“When Stan won his race, I made it clear to planning commission leadership and to Stan himself that I would not stand for a reappointment,” said Hunker. “I wish Stan all the success possible; we served together as commissioners from 2011-14 and didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but I wish him Godspeed.”
Also, he said, the city code says if a person has a 10-year lease they can vote in city elections, which makes them eligible and legally available for the appointment, regardless of being a deed holder, which, Hunker said, he was for 18 years and will be again shortly.
In place of Perry and Hunker, Mills nominated former Planning Commissioner Brian Patterson and Michael Bryan.
During the meeting, Mills said he was comfortable with his decisions. It’s the privilege of the mayor to make appointments, and these nominations reflect his vision, he said.
The next planning commission meeting is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 9. The agenda calls for Patterson and Bryan to be introduced, but says the election of officers will occur at the November planning commission meeting.
Additional mayoral committee, commission appointments
Commissioners also approved appointments to the board of adjustment, and the parks and shade tree commission.
For the board of adjustment, Jerry Capone was reappointed to a three-year-term, while former city commissioner and Planning Commissioner Jan Konesey was appointed to a three-year-term.
Chrzanowski questioned Konesey’s appointment, saying he didn’t think Konesey was eligible because she wasn’t a resident, which is a requirement for the board of adjustment.
Commissioner Susan Gay said Konesey had been a resident since a tornado damaged her Dover-area home in August. Mills said he had confirmed Konesey’s primary residence was now Rehoboth Beach.
For the parks and shade tree commission, Ned Kesmodel was reappointed to a three-year-term, while Kathryn Downs was appointed to a three-year-term and Laura Ritter was appointed to a two-year-term.
Additional mayoral appointments included Gay as chair for the mayor’s advisory committee on trees; Commissioner Patrick Gossett as chair for the personnel committee and bandstand/convention hall/special events committee; and Commissioner Jay Lagree as chair of the Boardwalk and beach committee, and liaison to the Rehoboth Beach Historical Society.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include comments from former Planning Commissioner Mark Hunker.