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June 2, 1995     Cape Gazette
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June 2, 1995

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lJ - CAPE GAZE'FrE,'Friday, June  -fiize 8, i Rehoboth's ,largest single parcel, Ocean Bay Mart, goes up for sale By Dennis Fonwy food restaurant once occupied by al suggesting that the Ocean Bay The largest parcel of un&vided land in the city of Rehoboth Beach, Ocean Bay Mart Shopping Center, is up for sale. According to Bill Vernon of O'Conor, Piper and Flynn, the 8.5 acre parcel owned by the Tunnell and Marvel families of George- town, has been listed for $1,950,000. A&P food store, a 27,000 square foot facility that served as anchor store for the shopping cen- ter from 1975 until it closed four years ago, this week notified the owners that it would not exercise its option for six five-year leases that it had remaining in its original contract with the shopping center owners. Because of that option, the own- ers had not been able to attempt to lease the large store to any other possible tenants. Several other commercial spaces in the shop- ping center, including a movie theater and a pad site for a fast Hardees, are also now vacant. "Most of the commercial has moved out to the Rt. I corridor," said Vernon. "Someone with a re- al strong grocery connection or with a really unique commercial approach might be able to revital- ize the center but the site is proba- bly better suited for residential use. It needs one business to serve as anchor and I don't really see that happening." He said the property is probably equivalent to three city blocks and is probably the last large parcel that will be sold in Rehoboth city limits. Robert Tunnell Jr., one of the owners of Ocean Bay Mart, at- tended the third and final hearing on a proposed long range plan for Rehobeth. That hearing was held Wednesday, May 31. He was represented at the hear- ing by attorney John Sergovic. Sergovic said his client was op- posed to a long range plan propos- Mart parcel be downzoned from commercial to a mixed residential and commercial R2 zone. The proposed Rehoboth Long Range Plan states: "Another commercial area that is deteriorated is the Bay Mart Shopping Center. Many of its stores are now vacant because businesses have chosen to relocate to the explosive growth areas to the north of Rehoboth Beach. It is recommended that this parcel be rezoned to R2 with a new mixed zone that blends residential and commercial." "It's premature to discuss downzoning to R2," said Sergov- ic, noting that there's no other space but Bay Mart in Rehohoth for a shopping center. He said that the shopping center owners had no control over the former A&P because it continued to pay rent even though it closed its store. "Ocean Bay Mart is looking at Dennis Forney photo The Ocean Bay Mart Shopping Center on Route 1 in Re- hoboth Beach, is up for sal its options in the existing C-1 zone and we don't want to elimi- nate the elective," said Sergovic. He said the Bay Mart property should "serve the needs of the community the way it was intend- ed to - it's the only shopping area catering to the needs of the neigh- borhood. Now my client is free of restrictions. A residential/com- mercia/mix is possible." Ocean Bay Mart was first devel- oped in 1968 by a partnership which included Dan Anderson, Rodney King, Nutter Marvel and Robert Tunnell St. Rehoboth wraps up Long Range Plan hearings By Trish Vernon Protecting nonconforming buildings, lot coverage and park- ing were the three major topics of concern at the last of three public hearings Wednesday, May 31 on the Rehoboth Beach Long Range Plan, with Mayor Sam Cooper taking a turn to peruse the draft with a fine tooth comb. The Rehoboth Beach Planning Commission listened to the con- cerns, question and praise given to the document, before it was noted that anyone else wishing to com- ment may do so in writing through June 7. Gerry Cooper, who owns the Tembo B&B on Laurel Street, was the first to bring up the con- cern a number of people have voiced concerning the plan's "ac- tion plan" to place limitations on "grandfathering', or allowing a nonconforming building or use of a building to continue because it had been built or in use before particular zoning ordinances were enacted. "If a fire destroyed my building would I be able to build it again and continue as a B&BT' Cooper asked of the fact that a bed and breakfast operation is not permit- ted in an R-1 area, but under pre- sent law could be rebuilt to the same size and used for the same purpose. "The Long Range Plan is trying to raise the issue that grandfather- ing can be good or bad. Your home looks like an R-1 residence - only the use is different, which puts another complexion on it than if it was a nonconforming building," Planner Mable Oranke explained, noting that historic preservation is "sometimes the only way of preserving the use of a structure." Resident Sheridan Besosa re- minded them that restricting grandfathering could lower prop- erty values, and that the Supreme Court has ruled that if a govern- ment takes away the use of a prop- erty, it must compensate the own- er. Planner Richard Sargent added that the plan "is merely a vision for the future and nothing is cast in stone." He went on to note that the city is also working on an His- toric Preservation Ordinance (next meeting 7 p.m., June 7), "which will probably be enacted before the Long Range Plan. Grandfa- thering is a topic there too, and they have discussed reviewing each case on its individual mer- its," with provisions for appeal of any decision. Elizabeth Hooper, owner of the Corner Cupboard, a bed and breakfast/restaurant in an R-1 area, told them "the ramifications of eliminating grandfathering wholesale would affect a lot more people than you realize." She cit- ed two improved undersized lots she owns, wondering if she could rebuild on them if the buildings were destroyed. "In one way you are speaking out both sides of your mouth," Hooper said, noting that the Historic Preservation Or- dinance would preserve noncon- forming structures they deemed historically important, while the Long Range Plan would outlaw grandfathering of them. Sargent assured her that under- sized lots would not be affected by any efforts to eliminate grand- fathering. Alan Garey, who served on the Long Range Plan committee which suggested the provision, said they were eyeing physical appearance rather than use when they fashioned it, espe- Trh Vnon John 8ergovi, an attorney for Rob Tunnell (vated) one of the owners of the Ocean Bay Mart shopping centers, addressed members of the Rehoboth Beach Planning Commion. cially tall buildings which block the sunlight and others "not built to standard or encroaching on lot lines." Besosa then turned the discus- sion toward lot coverage, as the Long Range Plan suggests that the code insure that at least 40 percent of each R-1 and R-2 lot "be dedi- cated to nature". "You are cutting down on how people can build in their neighborhoods," Besosa said, to which Sargent replied "if you pave your entire lot, it re- duces the value of my lot. Trees are important and zoning in gener- al restricts use of property." Resident Fritz Hessemer, who is also chairman of the city's Board of Adjustment, likened the provision to "preventing ele- phants on postage stamps. Hous- es on stilts are not old or new Re- hoboth - it's miserable Rehoboth." (The hoard recently turned down a number of variance requests on one house on stilts.) The audience was reminded that the Planners have already submit- ted revisions on green space and allowable lot coverage to the Commissioners and they are ex- pected to be discussed at their June 9 meeting. Later in the meeting, Hessemer submitted a 1989 report by a-Har- risburg, Pa. professional planner concerning parking garages in Re- hoboth Beach. The report warned that unless the entrance and exits flowed, people wouldn't use it. "I can't understand why you would want to put more automobiles in Rehohoth, especially on week- ends. And they'll still want to find a place close enough to the beach to satisfy them," it read. The re- port went on to note that it may be used 100 percent 22 days out of the year. The Tembo owner then told them that the spread of parking meters into the residential areas has caused her guests to complain that they are being penalized. Rather than charge people who live in or are staying in the city, a beach fee, she said, would be more equitable, and those who are just coming in for the day to the beach would then pay their share. Before Cooper took the floor, John Brown, a resident of Sussex Street, then spoke out in protest on the proposal to rezone Sussex Street from C-3 to R-2, noting it would devalue the value of his property. The mayor, noting he is a resi- dent and businessman, told the Planners he feels the document "needs a lot of polish" as he pro- ceeded to go through the plan page by page. He took exception to the provision that Rehoboth Beach "is not only the key suppli- er of essential needs and services to its own residents and visitors, but also to the residents of sur- rounding areas." Should it be the city's public fa- cilities or private facilities that must continue to meet the needs of an ever-growing population in Eastern Sussex County and in- crease in tourism?" Cooper want- ed to know. While admitting that the city's public restroom facilities are inad- equate, he also questioned setting up "standards" as to how many such facilities the city must pro- vide. He went on to disagree with the population figures provided as well, citing that a summer crowd of 50,000 is "exaggerated. I think our mid-summer average is 16,000, with a high of maybe 25,000," citing sewer flow figures as his basis of information. The plan states that the day visi- tor population will increase dra- matically as a result of an increase in permanent and seasonal hous- ing nearby and increased mobility of the population. "Are we be- coming the day tripper destination for the rest of Sussex? To me it says we do," which isn't some- thing that should necessarily be encouraged, he said. Again he disputed figures in the plan, which states there are 1,000 rental licenses within the city, while he believes e number to be at least 50 percent higher. Not- ing he believes strict rental tax and license enforcement is some- thing they should be doing now and not a part of the plan, he took Continued on page 16