Rehoboth

As a former city commissioner for 9 of the past 15 years, I have seen a lot of changes in the laws and decisions governing the city of Rehoboth Beach. Like most things in life, some have been good and some have been not so good. The ones that have been good for the city plan for the future. The ones that have been bad for the city try to hold on to the past. The city of Rehoboth Beach has been a magnet for tourists for a long time and that has not changed nor can it be changed. Trying to stifle our business community will not decrease the numbers that come to our city but will only frustrate our residents and visitors by putting into place ordinances that will promote the construction of buildings that lack functional architectural creativity. Worse, discouraging business innovation will drive businesses to Route 1, resulting in vacant storefronts along our commercial streets that will ultimately increase costs to residents in terms of higher taxes, provision of basic services, and increased utility fees.

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a group of people standing in front of a building: Visitors walk the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. © Emily Lytle, Delaware News Journal Visitors walk the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021.

On Oct. 15, a public hearing was held regarding patchwork changes to the zoning code. The proposed changes have been put forth as “clarifications.” They are not clarifications but changes that will change the downtown commercial districts for generations to come. And not in a good way.

This may seem like an over-reaction but truly it is not. Not to over-simplify, but the basic zoning code that applies to commercial buildings allows for construction of a building from lot line to lot line with a maximum height of 42 feet. The proposed changes/clarifications would count interior courtyards and elevator shafts. These changes do not change the bulk of a building but could very well disincentivize desired architectural enhancements such as balconies and courtyards. In this day and age of COVID, open space should be promoted not penalized. Why would we stifle architects with ideas for buildings that embrace creative use of a parcel of land? The effect of the proposed changes on the new hotel projects that are currently being designed warrants involvement by everyone who wants to make sure that Rehoboth Avenue does not end up showcasing buildings with zero architectural interest.

It is important to remember that the one-square mile of Rehoboth Beach is not a suburban community nor is it a retirement community. It is a city that hosts tens of thousands of visitors eight to nine months a year with a vibrant restaurant scene, beach and boardwalk, farmers market, recreational dock and, hopefully one day a performing arts center.

What can you do? Send an email to awomack@cityofrehoboth.com, asking the mayor and city commissioners to pause making these patchwork changes to the city code, changes that will have negative unintended consequences for years to come. Ask them to do what was programmed in the budget over a year ago — to hire 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.

Patricia Coluzzi is a former city commissioner of Rehoboth Beach.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Rehoboth Beach needs to continue to plan wisely for a prosperous future | Opinion

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/finance/realestate/rehoboth-beach-needs-to-continue-to-plan-wisely-for-a-prosperous-future-opinion/ar-AAPP1SN

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