The Rehoboth Beach Planning Commission first reviewed the new 60-room hotel on Rehoboth Avenue and Boardwalk on November 14th. Although the comments were generally positive, some concerns were also raised.
Grotto Pizza and Onix Group, a real estate developer in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, are proposing to build a mixed-use building with retail space on the ground floor and 60 hotel rooms over three floors. . The property faces the Boardwalk and stretches the entire block from Rehoboth Avenue to Baltimore Avenue and consists of the Yuan Dollar Site, Sirocco Hotel, Cole Brothers Ice Cream, and Grotto Pizza.
Attorney Vince Robertson, who represents the developers at a concept review before the planning commissioner on November 14, said Sirocco is uninhabitable and what it currently has is a hodgepodge of uses. When completed, the 60-room hotel will be the smallest on the Boardwalk and will be modestly sized and appropriate, he said.
Robertson described a pedestrian-level commercial space with garage door-style openings, similar to Funland at the south end of the boardwalk. Behind the is a pool that cannot be seen from the street.
The hotel plans call for a floor area ratio of 2.76, which is greater than the 2 allowed by the code. Much of the excess is related to hotel room balconies and pools, both of which are included in the calculation, Robertson said. The size and scale will be the same or smaller than the hotel at the northern end of the Boardwalk, with an improved design, he said.
Given the macro-level nature of the concept review, the planning commissioners were mostly monopolized in their comments. However, concerns were raised related to construction coordination with the city related to buildings in flood zones, emergency entrances and new Beach Patrol buildings on Baltimore Avenue, and several code-related issues.
Robertson agreed there were details to be worked out, but said it would take place during the planning commission’s official site planning review.
Robertson said the change request will be submitted to the coordination committee as soon as possible. The request was not submitted in time for the Coordination Committee meeting on Monday, November 28th. The agenda for his December meeting of the Board has not been made public.
Partitioning request granted
Prior to the discussion of the Grotto Hotel, the Planning Commission did some old business, beginning with a request to split the lots at 7, 9 and 11 Cookman Streets into two lots. As proposed, the partition will include the eastern portion of Lot 7 and Lot 9 into one lot of 6,285 sq ft, and the western portion of Lot 9 and Lot 11 into one lot of 6,277 sq ft .
The Planning Committee held a preliminary review in October and held a public hearing in November. Ahead of the unanimous approval by the committee, Commissioner Michael Strange said he had found nothing to challenge the request.
Delaying Rezoning Requests
Shortly after the Cookman Street hearings, the Planning Commission continued discussions related to the rezoning request by Rehoboth Auto Repair owners Richard and Stephanie Marsch. The couple requested that 20663 Coastal Highway be rezoned from C3 Commercial to C1 Commercial. The property is just west of the Forgotten Mile auto repair business. Richard said he also wants to install two mechanics bays where the house stands on the site. City ordinances do not allow auto repair shops in C3.
The Planning Commission’s concern is the strip of land between two Marsch properties that are part of the Rehoboth Beach Plaza development. Richard tried to get the owner of the land to sell it, but he said it didn’t work.
James Lisehora lives near Scarborough Avenue Extended. His backyard adjoins the property in question on the north side. He expressed his concerns about noise intrusion. More car alarms went off and the tow truck was lowered in the middle of the night. C3 exists for a reason, Lisehora says, to act as a buffer between the house and C1.
Ultimately, the Planning Commission decided to delay making recommendations to the City Commission until the applicant provided more information about future plans. Time as to when the request will be reconsidered No frame is set.