Bureaucratic gridlock gripping Rehoboth Beach

October 15, 2021

Major projects that could advance Rehoboth Beach’s goal of revitalizing its downtown cannot make forward progress due to endless bureaucracy.

Three hotel projects have been under review by city officials for more than two years, with no end in sight. One involves the prominent Boardwalk, Rehoboth Avenue and Wilmington Avenue property currently anchored by colorful Candy Kitchen. At the western end of the avenue, another involves the State Road parcel once occupied by the iconic Seahorse Restaurant. Then there's the Baltimore Avenue hotel, introduced in 2018, proposed for three ocean-block lots just west of the Atlantic Sands.

The Rehoboth Avenue parcels are highly visible, currently host buildings way past their prime, and deserve well-designed structures with pleasing architecture.

A fourth major project languishing in endless meetings, of course, is the Clear Space proposal for a new theater complex on the opposite side of Rehoboth Avenue’s western end.

These projects involve local people with vested interests in a healthy Rehoboth Beach future. They would do nothing but help ensure the vibrancy of the city’s downtown and its lively restaurant, retail and Boardwalk scene.

The city should heed former Commissioner Pat Coluzzi, who recently called for the already-budgeted hiring of “a zoning expert to look holistically at the city ordinances and make practical, coordinated changes that incentivize development that sustains the aesthetics and prosperity of our town.”

Rather than continually kicking positive projects down the road, the city needs to define its regulations so it can say to potential developers: “Here are our rules; design your project accordingly. The planning commission will review for compliance and make a recommendation to the board of commissioners in a specified time. City commissioners will review, hold hearings, and also act in a specified time frame." This should all be accomplished within one year.

Without concrete action to guarantee decisions – up or down – in a timely fashion, no one will want to engage the bureaucracy. Existing properties will continue to decline, and that will bring an entirely different set of problems.

  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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