We don’t need ‘rental ghetto’ in Rehoboth
I very much appreciated a recent editorial in this newspaper regarding the proposed Sussex County development Osprey Point at the Old Landing Golf Course.
In short, Sussex County Planning and Zoning had rejected an initial plan for 339 units on 127 acres, and later approved the updated proposal for 217 homes, a 36 percent reduction (or .585 acres per lot). Bravo to Sussex County!
It is my hope that the Rehoboth Planning Commission will similarly send the developers of Rehoboth’s Baymart Shopping Center on Route 1 back to the drawing board. Their current, high-density plan calls for 63 homes (58 single-family houses and five townhouses) – over 90 percent of which have five to six bedrooms - to be built on the site. If the city’s planning commission held the Baymart developer to the same standard (.585 acres per lot), the shopping center would have to be five times its current size, that is, it would need to have 36 acres rather than its current 7.7 acres to accommodate the 63 homes.
As it is proposed, it will be nothing short of a rental ghetto, completely incompatible with Rehoboth’s Comprehensive Development Plan.
How do you get 63 huge houses into 7.7 acres? By building them 10 feet apart and using 10-foot setbacks from the property lines they share with surrounding neighborhoods; by building 20-foot-wide streets rather than the 40-foot standard; by eliminating sidewalks; by offering extremely limited off-street parking; and by reducing open space to a minimum.
Imagine that Rehoboth’s Central Park (the wooded area bordered by Columbia, Third, and Park avenues) - which is only about 15 percent smaller than the Baymart Shopping Center parcel - were to have 53 houses in it (53 is the number you get when you reduce 63 by 15 percent).
Building 63 homes on a 7.7-acre lot in Rehoboth Beach is out of character with the surrounding residential streets and in opposition to the city’s commitment to build and maintain a charming, bikeable, and pedestrian friendly city.
I strongly urge the planning commission to uphold the city’s comprehensive development plan, and work with Keith Monigle, the developer, to reduce the density of his proposed residential community; otherwise, we can call this development “Rental Ghetto” rather than “Beach Walk.”