After months of discussion, Rehoboth Beach commissioners have narrowed down the first action items in the city’s 2020 comprehensive development plan.
It took about four years to create the 330-page document, which contains 88 action items for the city to pursue over the next decade. Work on the latest CDP began in December 2018. With a month to spare before the expiration of a second year-long extension, and with no more extensions possible, commissioners approved the state-mandated plan in June. Gov. John Carney signed off on the document Nov. 15.
Soon after, Mayor Stan Mills tasked fellow commissioners and the planning commission with developing a 10-item prioritized list.
Assistant City Manager Evan Miller, who was interim city manager at the time, took each individual list and developed a list of priorities based on a weighted point scale. He also provided a second list, based only on the number of votes an item received.
In the end, a total of 38 items received a vote, with eight of the top 12 action items being the same using either method. The top three items were the same for both methods and include the creation of a city-wide stormwater management plan, a review and revision of city land-use code to remove ambiguous wording and the hiring of a consultant to conduct an in-depth traffic analysis.
Other top-ranked action items include defining impervious surfaces, reviewing and adopting the city’s official zoning map, improving communication with residents and evaluating the need for a new mixed-use zone in the city’s commercial district.
Mills said the exercise gives the city a path forward. The other action items aren’t being excluded, he said.
“We’ve got to have some approach,” said Mills.
Commissioner Toni Sharp said she thought it was good for newly minted City Manager Laurence Christian to see the list because it gives him an idea of what commissioners think is important.
Christian, who took over as city manager in the final days of 2022, said he was ready to move forward. At his previous job, he said, the municipality's comprehensive plan sat on his desk, dog-eared and written in.
“It was not gathering dust,” said Christian. “If we’re not following the comp plan, what are we doing?”
Michael Strange, a planning commission member commenting as a member of the public, questioned the city’s method of prioritization. He estimates there are 77,000 variations of implementing the action items because some of the items contain their own action items within them.
However, Strange said, the first few items are so important that it makes sense to move forward. The question, he said, is what about the other 82?
There was no date set or timeline for updates on the progress of implementation, but commissioners said there will be periodic check-ins.