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May 20, 2014     Cape Gazette
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May 20, 2014

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I : I: !  i I'll I  r 4 TUESDAY, MAY 20 - THURSDAY, MAY 22, 2014 NEWS Cape Gazette RYAN MAVITY PHOTO REHOBOTH BEACH OFFICIALS are working on an ordinance that would set up a formal public process for unmerging lots that are considered merged by use. While the city previously recommended applicants wishing to "unmerge" lots go through the planning commission's subdivision process, three property owners, including 89 Columbia Ave., shown here, appealed their cases to the board of adjustment and were allowed to divide the lots without going through the subdivision process. Large lots raise questions in Rehoboth Planners seek public process for dividing properties By Ryan Mavity through the subdivision process. That decision rankled the Rehoboth Beach officials are considering an ordinance to es- tablish a public process by which property owners could request to divide large properties that by use have been considered a single lot. The ordinance, first drawn up by the planning commis- sion nearly two years ago, would codify what has traditionally been city policy. Until recently, Rehoboth's building and licens- ing office has recommended property owners who have a sin- gle house on a lot large enough for two houses to divide the lot through the subdivision process, which requires a public hearing before the planning commission. However, no formal process to subdivide this type of lot was spelled out in city code. In the past year, three prop- erty owners applied for building permits and were denied by the building inspector, who said the city considered their properties single lots by use. The property owners appealed that decision to the board of adjustment, which in each case ruled in favor of the property owner, overturning the building inspector's decision. Board of adjustment solicitor Craig Karsnitz said the board's rationale has been that there is nothing in the code giving them guidance for when a lot is consid- ered merged. He said the board is calling for clarification of when large properties are determined to be single lots. As a result of the board of adjustment decisions, building inspector Terri Sullivan revised department policy; she no lon- ger tells property owners to go planning commission, which pro- posed an ordinance 18 months ago, but no action was taken until Commissioner Stan Mills took up the issue up April 7. "Unhappy is a mild understate- ment," said Commissioner Jan Konesey at the planners' April 11 meeting. Konesey said no one from the building and licensing office bothered to call Chairman Preston Littleton to tell the plan- ners the policy had changed. "As long as I have been in Rehoboth, every partitioning, merger or unmerger has come to the planning commission," she said. Littleton said a formal process for lots previously considered merged benefits residents be- cause it provides a public forum for neighbors to offer input. Without a new ordinance, a prop- erty owner with a 100-by-100-foot lot with a house in the middle - a merged lot by use - could be unmerged and a house could be built on each of the resulting 50-by-100 lots, but neighbors could say or do nothing about it. Littleton said because the city is so built-out, any development should be considered publicly, with consideration for issues such as trees and parking. Karsnitz said he would like to see a formal list of lots that are considered merged available at building and licensing to make it easier for homeowners and prospective buyers to know what lots have been merged by use. Mills said no count has been conducted on the number of merged properties. He said he plans to continue discussion at the commissioners' next work- shop. Price: One vote can ma00:e a difference Democrat starts Sussex County Council District 4 campaign By Ron MacArthur Saying it's time for a new day in county government, Democrat Shirley Price of Ocean View of- ficially announced her candidacy May 12 for the District 4 Sussex County Council seat. At events in Ocean View and Rehoboth Beach, former state Rep. Price said she wanted to be the one to throw a pebble in the pond and make some ripples. "Over the years so many of us have lost hope with county coun- cil. We don't think we can make changes. We can't make changes with the same people who are in office now. This is our time," she told a crowd assembled at Maria- chi in Rehoboth Beach. Price, a lifelong Sussex resi- dent who served three terms in the General Assembly, has been a realtor since 2003. Prior to that, she managed her family business, Murray's Bait and Tackle Shop, and has volunteered for several organizations including CHEER Services, Center for the Inland Bays, Girl Scouts, South Coastal Library and Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce. Price said the county needs a plan for growth that includes hiring a certified land-use plan- ner with regulations requiring infrastructure in place before development can occur. "We also need to make sure we are getting our fair share of resources back from the state and better information from state agencies," she said. "The strong relationships I have built in Do- ver will help with that effort." She said the county's economic development office should be staffed and the county should work with the state to bring good jobs to Sussex County that pay more than the minimum wage. "Those are jobs that don't cre- ate environmental problems in the Inland Bays," she said. "The health of our bays plays a vital role in our economy." 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