Letters to the Editor
June 27, 2018
Rehoboth Should Stop the Special Exceptions for Developers
The Mayor and Commissioners and the Board of Adjustment in Rehoboth need to do much better if they are going to properly serve the people and meet our values of transparent and inclusive city government. Events over the past month were not their finest hour.
For example, the Mayor has called three special meetings in June alone. Special meetings should only be used for extraordinary circumstances, and not—as it seemed in June—to try and rush through exceptions from the zoning laws for recent buyers. Special meetings are typically not well attended, they catch citizens by surprise, and many people do not get a chance to hear the issues and express their views.
At another special meeting last week, the Commissioners deadlocked over exceptional treatment for an LLC developer that recently purchased 45 Lake Avenue (the old Bad Hair Day location). The LLC is seeking approval to have two houses on one 5600 s.f. lot. Some Commissioners questioned the pressure to approve exceptions without any input from relevant city committees and before the LLC was scheduled to be heard by the Board of Adjustment. In a strange twist, the Mayor and the City Solicitor first advised that the Commissioners must approve the exceptions so that the Board of Adjustment could hear the case—only to reverse their opinion when the Commissioners deadlocked.
Finally, the Board of Adjustments met this week to consider numerous variances requested by the LLC at 45 Lake Avenue, including a request to allow more than one residence on the lot. Readers may remember the last time the Board of Adjustment heard a request to allow multiple residences on a single lot—the Board approved an exception for the notorious Beach Walk development, claiming the city's zoning code was "ambiguous."
Subsequently, the city amended the code to make it crystal clear that two houses are not allowed on a single lot. Yet at this week's meeting, the two lawyers on the Board of Adjustments wanted to approve two residences for this LLC and other extensive variances, and they continued to complain that the code is "ambiguous." Thankfully, the majority of the Board voted to deny the variances, thus upholding the law and standing against special treatment for developers. This was the right outcome and should not have been a close call.
If I am elected Commissioner on August 11, I will stand for common sense and a transparent and inclusive city government. For more information, please visit glassforcommissioner.org.