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February 24, 2006     Cape Gazette
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February 24, 2006
 

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m CAPE GAZETTE - Friday, Feb. 24. Monday, Feb. 27, 2006 - 19 Sussex Street rezoning issue moved to public hearing By Kevin Spence Cape Gazette staff Nearly 40 residents gathered at Rehoboth's City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 21, to discuss the possibility of rezoning Sussex Street from a commercial to a residential dis: tfict. But the commissioners meeting was almost like a public hearing, as residents demanded an oppor- tunity to be heard. After an hour's debate, the commissioners unanimously voted to hold a public hearing April 17 to consider the rezoning. Several years ago part of Sussex Street was rezoned resi- dential, but the public hearing will address rezoning the rest of Sussex Street, which will affect roughly 40 lots. "All this does is entertain what's in the CDP," said Rehoboth Beach Mayor Sam Cooper. But, the debate over the process of informing residents about the rezoning became almost as intense as the proposal itself. Some commissioners say plen- ty of time had been proyided to inform residents about the rezon- ing and numerous meetings were held over the years. "My point here is that we've had three years since it was brought up to the public," said Rehoboth Commissioner Dennis Barbour. Rehoboth Commissioner Ron Paterson said the first formal meeting was held nearly five years ago, March 12, 2001. Since then, almost 30 other meetings were held, including Saturday opportunities to discuss it. "To say this is a surprise, something that popped up all of a sudden, is not the situation," Paterson said. "Now, we're being asked for another month," he said. Furthermore, commissioners say, the resolution to hold a public Estates Wanted CONSIGNMENTS BEING ACCEPTED FOR STUART KINGSTON SERIES OF AUCTIONS ANTIQUE FURNITURE, ART, RUGS, JEWELRY, CRYSTAL, SILVER, TOYS, AUTOMOBILES AND COLLECTIBLES NO ITEM TOO SMALL. NO ESTATE TOO LARGE CALL FOR DATES'& APPRAISALS STUART KINGSTON, INC, One Grenoble Place Rehoboth, DE 1997 ! WWW.STUARTKi NGSTON.COM 302-227-2524 888-407-0433 hearing is just that - the ability to discuss an issue publicly, not to make a final decision. In the interim, however, no per- mits are issued for commercial development on the street, which is zoned C-3, which vould allow for mid-rise apartments, rooming houses and hotels. "Down zoning is traditionally a taking. You are changing immedi- ately the character of zoning with the resolution," said Barbara Leery, a Rehoboth real estate agent. CDP calls for it? Commissioners say rezoning Sussex Street is "pursuant" to the city's comprehensive develop- ment plan (CDP). But, "pursuant" became a key word in the debate. "I'm a proponent of getting the info out. These are the facts of the process: the CDP was certified 18 months ago. The land use recom- mended was supposed to be implemented in 18 months - to 'pursue' a change in the rezoning. It says it will be 'pursued' within in 18 months," said Rehoboth res- ident Stan Mills. He added that if the over- whelming majority of residents vote against it, the rezoning will not occur. "The mayor, I believe, is right. The time for debate is the hearing," said Millsl But for Martin Clark and his wife, Eileen, who own a Sussex Street home, the proposed rezon- ing was unforeseen. "We are just baffled at this," said Clark. "That makes no sense." The Clarks bought other lots on Sussex Street with knowl- edge of its mixed-use nature. They tore down a warehouse on one parcel, at the city's recommenda- tion, and then bough t two more lots behind Quillen'S TruValue Hardware, 301 Rehob0th St. "Is Quillen's propert not zoned commercial," asked Martin. "That makes no sense." "I believe there's a compromise position. We truly did buy a home in the commercial district. We have been waiting toi retire. We look.to that income, which is now going to be significantly reduced," Eileen said. i The Clarks also say they've worked with city 6fficials to accommodate foreig h students with places to park their bikes on their property. "We're no special interest group, we're piople who love this community," Martin said. Perhaps echoing thq arguments Pre-Se Sale of the controversial floor-to-area ratio (FAR) reduction passed over the summer, residents said they were not informed of the proposed rezoning adequately. "We've been down this road a couple of times before," said Rehoboth resident, Hoyte Decker, who said he does not live on Sussex Street, nor does he have a specific interest in it. But, while he favors the rezon- ing, he urged the commissioners to notify every single property owner who would be affected. Former mayoral candidate Bob Sokolove, owner of 59 Lake restaurant, addressed the commis- sion. "Unfortunately, much like the FAR, I hate to see the town get into a similar situation," said Sokolove. "The fact of the matter is there are a lot of things in the CDP that may never come up." "I do believe a lot of people, even to this day, have no idea this is happening," Sokolove said. "It is a dangerous thing to do quick- ly," he added. Joyce Lussier, who also favors the zone change, agreed. "I do think this calls for notifi- cation," she said. "I don't know whether I'm talk- ing past you folks or not," said Cooper. "You need to make this argument in April," he said to those opposing the resolution. Rehoboth Commissioner Kathy McGuiness suggested the city notify affected residents. "It would make everybody happy," she said. The commissioners unanimous- ly passed the resolution to move the rezoning to a public hearing and contact individual owners. Commissioners can reduce the area to be rezoned, but not add to it," Cooper said. 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