The state has concluded its PLUS review of Rehoboth Beach’s 2020 Comprehensive Development Plan, and while there are recommendations that would limit vehicle access to the loop around the Bandstand and create a 100-foot vegetated buffer around wetlands, most of the review asks for more detail on specific portions.
Rehoboth submitted the draft CDP, a 200-page document, to the state for review in February after more than three years of work and delays. The Office of State Planning Coordination conducted a Preliminary Land Use Service public hearing Feb. 23, returning written comments to the city March 18.
The PLUS review is an 11-page document that includes comments from state offices of coordination, historic preservation, transportation, environment and housing:
• The Office of State Planning Coordination said the city should do a better job explaining a nine-month delay to address parcel mapping differences between the city and Sussex County records. The city should provide a brief summary of the issue and steps taken to rectify it, said the recommendation.
• The State Historic Preservation Office recommends the city pursue a historic district designation and include specifics on when it plans to work on the issue. The office also recommends the city create a new architectural design manual, bring back the architectural review task force and update the survey with structures built by 1972, because they now meet the minimum age requirement for national register listing.
• Delaware Department of Transportation recommends considering limiting traffic access on the loop around the Bandstand to transit vehicles, and those that are loading and unloading.
• DART recommends the city should define goals and strategies to meet a vision related to improved service.
• Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control recommends the city develop and then adopt an ordinance requiring a 100-foot vegetated buffer zone from all wetlands, bodies of water and waterways for new development, where practicable. An action item included in the proposed CDP is to transition the city’s fleet of vehicles to electric. DNREC recommends the city establish milestones for that conversion and include specific action items for energy efficiency and renewable energy infrastructure.
• Delaware State Housing Authority recommends implementing long-term affordability programs, employee-occupied rental units within commercial and public facilities, and coordination with other beach towns to identify and implement regional strategies for addressing affordable housing needs.
The city declined to comment on the substance of the report.
After conferring with Planning Chair Michael Bryan and Lauren Good, the consultant working for the city’s contractor Wallace Montgomery, city spokesperson Lynne Coan said in an email March 30 the planning commission will review the recommendations in more detail when they’re formally presented as part of public comments at the April 22 public hearing. Also during that meeting, she said, commissioners will consider comments received from neighboring jurisdictions, which include Dewey, Henlopen Acres, Lewes and Sussex County.
Rehoboth Beach stakeholders will also be allowed to comment at the public hearing, said Coan. If necessary, the planning commission will hold another meeting to discuss CDP recommendations and finalize the draft April 29, she said.
The planning commission expects to vote at its regular meeting Friday, May 13, to forward the CDP to city commissioners for review and adoption, said Coan.
The city, having already received two year-long extensions to complete the plan, is up against a hard completion deadline this July.