Rehoboth to vote on demolition, outdoor dining code changes

After months of discussion on both topics, officials reach consensus on modifications
December 9, 2022

After months of discussion and multiple revisions, Rehoboth Beach officials are expected to vote on changes to city code related to demolitions and outdoor dining on public space. The votes are expected to take place during the commissioner meeting Friday, Dec. 16.

During a workshop Dec. 5, commissioners reviewed the demolition code first. Changes to the demolition code were spurred by the emergency demolition of a portion of the former Sandcastle Motel this past summer. City code has a moratorium on demolitions from May 15 to Sept. 15, on structures with a square footage of at least 750 square feet. As permitted by code, city staff granted an emergency demolition permit to the developer in charge of the top-to-bottom renovation of the motel. It wasn’t the demolition specifically that drew questions from commissioners and members of the public, the issue was that it was being allowed during the moratorium, without any public notice. In addition to the moratorium, city code also requires public notice for any demolition.

Under the proposed changes, the 750-square-foot minimum has been removed and it will simply say the commercial and residential demolition of any building or structure shall be prohibited by any person during the moratorium.

A definition for structure – anything constructed or erected – has also been added to the demolition code.

Commissioner Jay Lagree said the structure definition is comprehensive, which, he said, is warranted.

Emergency demolition situations would still be part of the code; however, the mayor and city manager will now have to make a written finding that an emergency exists and then state the reasons why the public health and safety require a more expeditious demolition.

The proposed changes also codify the process related to issuing a permit to move a building or structure.

As for outdoor dining on public space, there weren’t any substantial changes made from when commissioners last discussed the topic during their commissioner meeting in November – a restaurant would still need a supplemental permit of compliance; barriers need to be at least 42 inches high and more substantial than posts and rope; the permit is conditional at all times and can be revoked for an noncompliance issues.

In addition to adding a new section of code related to outdoor dining code, city officials also took a look at current code related to permit of compliances. Proposed changes to that section include increasing the maximum allowable fine from $200 per offense to $500 and also increasing the application fee for a permit of compliance from $1,000 to $1,250. Another proposed change would remove the city manager’s ability to allow a modification of a restaurant’s approved floor plan without a public hearing.

Given the amount of time city officials have discussed the code revisions, discussion during the workshop was limited. However, Mayor Stan Mills reminded everyone that public hearings are not required on either subject because neither section of code is part of the city’s zoning code.

The commissioner meeting is scheduled to take place in the commissioners’ room at 2 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16, in the commissioners room of city hall, 229 Rehoboth Ave.

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