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Join Rehoboth Citizens for Responsible Growth in opposing the proposed BeachWalk development. This petition asks Rehoboth Beach Commissioners to uphold the Planning Commission's decision that BeachWalk developers must submit a major subdivision application and abide by all associated subdivision standards.
What is the Issue?
The old Ocean Bay Mart Shopping Center sits on 7.7 acres of land on the southern edge of the city in the "Forgotten Mile". Rather than subdivide the land and meet subdivision standards, the owner/developer (Ocean Bay Mart LLC) has proposed to build 58 single-family houses and five multi-family townhouse units.
The proposed BeachWalk development attempts to make an end-run around the City’s zoning code. The developer hopes to avoid the residential standards that would normally apply to single-family houses in the City. For example, BeachWalk's plan calls for "drive aisles" rather than streets, has minimal open space and lacks sidewalks. There will be no on-street parking, yet the 58 single-family houses -- nearly 90% of them with 5- and 6-bedrooms/bathrooms -- will each accommodate only two to three cars. Additionally, each single family house does not sit on its own 5000 sq. ft. lot as is required in Rehoboth Beach.
The threats to safety in this environment are significant and best illustrated by comments made by Rehoboth Fire Chief Chatham Marsch. His concerns are summarized as follows:
o The “drive aisles” that are proposed in BeachWalk -- in place of normal, residential streets -- dont't allow easy access for emergency equipment.
o The density of “reach out and touch me” houses permits easy jumping of fires from one house to another (note that the houses are about 13' apart from one another and only 11' from property lines).
o Moving the entrance from Route 1 to Terrace Road impedes firetruck access to the site by requiring the shutdown of all four lanes of Route 1 in order to make the required U-turn at Robinsons Drive.
Numerous other problems can be found with the proposed development. Two major civic organizations in the city, Save Our Lakes Alliance 3 and Rehoboth Beach Homeowner’s Association have both expressed concerns for the potential negative impact that the project would have on Rehoboth’s natural environment and on the health, safety and welfare of the surrounding neighborhoods. In a letter to City Commissioners, they stated that “the plans submitted for BeachWalk provide minimum protections for stormwater management, sediment and erosion control, and surface and groundwater runoff."
Overcrowding and density are also concerns. BeachWalk is more than twice as dense, in terms of the number of dwellings per acre, as the surrounding neighborhoods. Additionally, the average Floor Area Ratio (FAR) for the development (0.62) is almost three times that of the nearby community (0.22). Its front streetscapes are also approximately half the size of -- and the back-yard setbacks are less than 25% of -- the average in the contiguous neighborhoods.
Additional information on all of these concerns can be found on the Rehoboth Neighbors United website under the "BeachWalk" tab.
The guidance for a developer who wants to build single-family houses in a C-1 zone is straightforward: subdivide so that each house sits on its own 5000 square foot lot. Additionally, the developer must take steps to ensure that the health, safety and well-being of the community is addressed by providing adequate-sized streets, setbacks and appropriate green space and storm water management.
Because BeachWalk does not meet these standards, in January of 2017, the Rehoboth Planning Commission informed the developer that he must submit a new major subdivision application for the project. The developer declined to submit a new, revised application and has since chosen to appeal the decision to the Rehoboth Beach City Commissioners. The appeal meeting is currently scheduled for January 26, 2017.
Join the petition
In order to preserve the character of Rehoboth's residential neighborhoods, Rehoboth Citizens for Responsible Growth and its allies ask that Rehoboth Beach Commissioners support the Planning Commission's decision, enforce the City ordinance, and require the same responsible development standards of BeachWalk as would be placed on any large residential subdivision of like size and scale. Failure to do so presents undue risk to the safety and welfare of local residents, imposes unnecessary burdens on the community and threatens the future of Rehoboth Beach by setting a negative precedence for other development within the City.
Today: Rehoboth Citizens for Responsible Growth is counting on you
Rehoboth Citizens for Responsible Growth needs your help with “Commissioners of Rehoboth Beach: Stop BeachWalk!”. Join Rehoboth Citizens for Responsible Growth and 1,096 supporters today.