The results of a recent survey done this summer are in, and in what shouldn’t be a surprise to many, the beach and Boardwalk are the resort’s most important asset for visitors, residents and businesses in Rehoboth Beach.
The city undertook the survey this past summer in preparation for updating the 2020 Comprehensive Development Plan. The survey results were first revealed during a joint planning commission and board of commissioners meeting Oct. 28. The discussion was largely led by Debbie Pfeil, a planning manager for KCI, the company hired by the city to help guide it through the process.
Pfeil said the city received a high rate of response and the number of fully completed surveys was high. There’s lots of good information here, she said.
According to Pfeil’s statistics, there was a 68 percent completion rate for the 68 responses to the business survey, an 82 percent completion rate for the 369 responses to the visitor survey and a 71 percent completion rate for the 686 responses to the community survey.
According to the business survey, more than 70 percent of respondents have been in business over 10 years; 80 percent of respondents said they have no anticipated building improvements; approximately 75 percent are in favor of more mixed-use; and about 93 percent operate the business year-round.
For the visitor survey, about 65 percent said they come more than 10 times a year; nearly 50 percent said they live less than 10 miles from the city; more than 90 percent use the Boardwalk; and approximately 80 percent said they use the beach.
Under the community survey, defined as property owners who have at least one residential property, more than 60 percent fall in the age range between 55 to 75; about 75 percent of those who responded live in single-family residences; more than 70 percent said open space, drinking water, quality of water and air quality are extremely important; and 85 percent said the safety of the Boardwalk was very good or good.
During a planning commission meeting Nov. 8, Pfeil said, moving forward, planning commission members need to dig into survey results and put them into five categories for future discussion. The five categories are areas of concern, city operational items, intergovernmental items, public policy and other.
Pfeil said as part of the categorizing process, commissioners should make a list of areas where more information is needed.
Planning Commissioner Jeff Trunzo said on some issues, like the importance of the beach and Boardwalk, no new data is needed.
Pointing to suggestions such a supermarket or senior living facilities, Commissioner Mark Hunker said some problem areas addressed in the surveys are going to be dealt with on the Route 1 portion of Rehoboth, which is outside city limits.
Commissioner Michael Strange said the survey results show Rehoboth has some unique problems to try and tackle. According to the state, he said, because of its size and year-round population, Rehoboth and Ellendale are the same.
“We’re not like Ellendale by a long shot,” said Strange.
All 300 pages of survey results are available for the public to read under the comprehensive development plan button on the homepage of the city’s civic web portal, at cityofrehoboth.civicweb.net. The web portal can also be accessed from the city’s general information website, at cityofrehoboth.com. There’s a bright green button for the civic web portal about one-third of the way down on the right.
Earlier this summer the city asked for, and was granted, a year-long extension to complete the state-mandated plan. The new deadline is July 23, 2021.
New planning commission leadership, task force appointments
Prior to discussing the comprehensive development plan, the planning commission voted on a full slate of new leadership. The three-year terms of former Chair David Mellen and former Secretary Francis Markert expired, and Mayor Paul Kuhns did not reappoint them; they were replaced by Barry Covington and Stephen Kauffman. Commissioner Susan Gay served as planning commission vice chair last year, but she had to step down after winning a seat on the city board of commissioners in August; the remaining one year on her term was filled by Hunker. By unanimous votes, Commissioner Rick Perry was named chair, Trunzo was named vice chair and Commissioner Lee Weber was named secretary.
At the request of city commissioners, the planning commission also appointed two more members to the parking garage task force. Perry has served as a planning commission liaison since the task force was created in the spring. Strange and Covington were named as the two additional liaisons.