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March 28, 1997     Cape Gazette
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March 28, 1997
 

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By Dish Vernon Four bones of contention - a late night Dewey Beach to Rehoboth Beach route, elimination of the Dewey to Fenwick route and the route between 3 Seasons Camp- ground and the park and fide lot as well as the lack of discount parking for employees - continue to dog DART First State officials as they go about planning their mass transit route for the summer of 1997. DART's Delaware Transit Corporation (DRT) officials unveiled their plans for 1997 at a meeting with their Resort Adviso- ry Committee last week which received very mixed reviews from the group com- prised of public officials and private citi- zens. These same individuals, along with many other concerned Cape Region residents, packed the Cape Henlopen Senior Center March 24, reiterating concerns discussed last weekand bringing new ones to light. The first topic to be revisited at the March 24 public hearing was the proposed fare structure, which would increase from $4 to $5 per day for the park and ride and from $1 all day to $1 per ride for bus fare, without any provisions as yet for employee discounts. Last summer, DRT charged $2 a day to employees of some restaurants in the Cape Region which alleviated parking in the densely packed resorts. This summer, the City of Rehoboth Beach has requested that employees of all merchants within the city be charged a lower rate that would be subsi- dized through funds generated by the city's parking permit system. Bobbi Geier, DRT assistant administra- State's summer transit plan meets with opposition ":!i tor, told them March 24 that her organiza- tion hasn't decided what will be done in this regard as yet and they are waiting "to re- view all comments" from that hearing and another held later that day at Delaware Tech in Georgetown. Martha Sweeney, representing the Rusty Rudder, said she wanted to go on record as supporting discounted employee parking. "You say that a seasonal pass ($99) would be cheaper than an employee parking pass, but we reimburse you and we couldn't do that if the fee is $5 per day. And a seasonal pass doesn't help because we have a high turnover of employees and occasional" workers who wouldn't use the lot all sum- mer," she explained. Joined by her neighbors, Ann Stellmann, president of the property owners associa- tion for Country Club Estates, which bor- ders State Road in Rehoboth Beach, said her organization vehemently opposes plans for a Route 202 from 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., which would take riders from Dewey along Route One and down State Road to be dropped off in front of Rehoboth City Hall on Friday and Saturday nights. She did, however, say she hoped DRT would consider the alternative broached by Dewey Mayor Bob Frederick last week, which is to use Church Street into Rehoboth rather than State Road. Ferrese criticizes DRT Her concerns were shared by Rehoboth City Manager Greg Fermse, who voiced his displeasure concerning how DRT arrived at its plans for 1997. Noting the committee was formed four years ago to provide a line Delaware Transit Corporation's public hearing on the proposed routos and fare rueture for the snmmer of 1997 brought out a crowd at the Cape Han- lopen Senior Center on March 24, many of whom were opposed to some of the changes they plan. In front is Martha Sweeney from the Rusty Rudder, who requested reduced park and ride lot rates for employees, while behind her is 8. Lee  who 8rapports the elimination of the S Seasons Campground loop. of communication between the state and the local communities, Ferrese said the last time the committee was asked to meet was in October, 1996 for a wrap up of that sea- son's statistics. "Last week was the first time we saw these proposals,,' he said. "And Rehoboth opposed using State Road, espedally since you're planning to bring in those bigger 40- foot buses from upstate." He told Geier that Mayor Sam Cooper and the Board of Commissioners wanted to go on record as receiving prior approval from them before bringing the 40-foot bus- es into the city and before adding any new stops on their routes. "We've gone on record for the past four years as being against a direct Dewey to Rehoboth late night route," he reminded her, noting it could also hurt ridership on a private enter- prise, the Jolly Trolley, which runs between the two resorts using Silver Lake Bridge to the Bandstand. "And we're adamantly against the fee structure," Ferrese continued, explaining that the city's parking advisory committee met with Derrick Lightfoot, DRT assistant director, on Feb. 18 about subsidizing dis- counted employee parking and have as yet to get a satisfactory answer. He asked why the employees would pay $99 a summer to use the park and ride lot when they could purchase a nontransferable seasonal park- Continued on page 12 Rehoboth merchants leary about tinkering with present sign ordinance By h Vernon The Rehoboth Beach Planning Commission received feedback from the business community on its attempt to revise the city's sign ordinance at a special workshop held March 24. After watching the slide show provided by National Main Street on effective and appropriate sig- nage ideas, over two dozen mer- chants wasted little time providing input for the next few hours, the general tenor being that they don't welcome further restrictions. "It's clear that the business community does not see the need for changes," wrote Rob Marshall, president of the Rehoboth Beach- Dewey Beach Chamber of Com- merce on behalf of the chamber board. In requesting the sign ordi- nance not be altered at the present time, Marshall added that they did not feel they had enough time to respond effectively to the 15-page worksheet the Planners circulated last week, ranging from questions as broad as "what is a sign?" to "should we allow nonconforming signs to continue indefinitely?" But the Planners reminded those gathered that the city's Long Range Plan adopted last year calls for revision of the current ordi- nance. Planning Chainnan Mary Campbell said thai the commer- cial subcommittee of the Long Range Plan committee advised back in 1994 that signs need to be oriented toward pedestrians and oriented toward pedestrians and that strict enforcement is needed, with consistent themes developed that are customer friendly and at- tractive even when closed during the off-season. However, Rehoboth Commis- sioner Bitsy Cochran, who was a member of that subcommittee, said later that they were referring to the need to develop a theme for the city's signs, which should be informative and customer friend- ly, not commercial signs. The subcommittee did recommend that strict enforcement of the pre- sent sign ordinance is needed and "ordinances need to be reviewed and updated that would allow the city to act quickly to nonconform- ing signs." Planner Alan Garey, who along with Re- hoboth Main Street Presi- dent Kathy Kramedas, has been working to fashion revi- sions to the sign ordi- nance in the past five GAREY months, asked that the group address the worksheets in an effort to get more input on-the various topics. "Then we'll recommend to the commissioners what to do with the ordinance," Campbell ex= plained. Garey told them that "what ex- ists [in the way of signs] and what's on paper are not compati- ble," so with suggestions from Main Street they put together a preliminary ordinance which the commissioners tossed back to them. They also collected ordi- nances from other towns in an ef- fort to get the ball rolling. Up un- til that evening, he added, they hadn't received much input from the business community. Before they got very far into the definition of signs, Nick Caggiano, owner of Nicola Pizza, asked if the task the Planners have undertaken is "for Re community or a small niche? I've been here 25 years and people pay a lot of money to rent. I know Nicola's sign is gaudy, but I have a lot of money in that sign," for which he sought and received a variance from the city's Board of Adjust- ment. Turning back to definitions, it was the general consensus that murals should not be considered signs unless they are advertising a specific product or place, and nei- ther should windsocks nor flags. "We want to encourage diversity," Planner Patti Shreeve stressed. "We may decide that the Long Range Plan is wrong, but we may find that we want to revise the or- dinance if certain things aren't ad- dressed or we don't agree with them. We want it to be cleaL" Bob Albaz, owner of Little Things in the first block of Re- hoboth Avenue, asked if anyone is enforcing what's already on the books, citing "total contempt" for the overall look of the commercial district by some merchants. "Peo- ple are putting up garbage bags in their windows when they close and you are talking murals and Cloud 9's decorations, which are fine, while the ocean block looks like a dump," Albaz said; asking that they "put teeth" into the ordi- nance. Planner Ed Cerullo told Albaz the Planners are very sympathetic to his plight and that they are try- ing to prepare an ordinance which will address these concerns. But Caggiano said "I hope you're not trying to shove some- thing down our throats, citing "Rehoboth politics - where you discuss it and then do whatever you want." Campbell took excep- tion to Caggiano's comments, not- ing that the Planners are working for the betterment of the city. Delving into specific flaws in the present ordinance, such as signs positioned far enough inside stores as not to fall under the law, Building Inspector Susan Freder- ick noted that several definitions are continually questioned and abused and that these definitions may need some revision. Exceptions to the sign ordi- nance should remain, most agreed, including open/close sigm and credit card decals, although dealer decals should be consid- ered as part of the allowed com- mercial sign square footage. Peter Antolini, the owner of Gourmet by the Sea, inquired about posters advertising upcom- ing events, which the Planners suggested may need size and time limits. However, it was noted that some people want to advertise fall events to the heavy influx of sum- mer visitors in hopes they will re- turn and the general consensus from the merchants was to leave well enough alone. While Main Street advises against allow- ing backlit signs, the merchants firmly agreed against pro- hibiting them. But Shreeve noted that backlit signs are more in keeping with highway busi- nesses and not the more tradition- al downtown atmosphere. 'Whey may be nice looking, but I want us to be different," she said. Antolini, who has a backlit sign, replied be is all for preservation of a charming atmosphere, proven by his renovation of an old beach house into a business, but that without his backlit sign he'would Continued on page II