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Rehoboth Beach planning commission holds another hearing for Clear Space Theatre

Clear Space Theatre

A Rehoboth Beach Planning Commision hearing on the proposed Clear Space theatre complex stretched on for 3 hours Friday


The group heard mostly complaints about the plan.


Approval of the new Clear Space site was denied back in August by the Rehoboth Beach Board of Commissioners because of a lack of information.


At a public hearing Friday, planning commission members heard from lots of citizens concerned about parking availability, lighting and sound levels. The proposed theatre’s north end backs up to residential homes.


Many residents say they aren’t against the theatre, they just want it done right.


Much of the fighting surrounds parking, says resident Susan Goode.


“There’s no town I know of which would wanna burden the nearby area and also pose competition for parking for restaurants and other business owners where there’s already a shortage of parking,” said Goode.


The theatre site proposal doesn’t include any on-site parking. Some of the city residents have gone into mediation with Clear Space in an effort to resolve some of these issues.


Clear Space board vice chair Laura Mason says efforts to address parking have been made, such as providing a parking map to patrons and encouraging use of public transit or other alternatives.


She says they'll even offer discounts to those using bus, trolley or rideshare.


Clear Space Executive Director Wesley Paulson compares the drawn out fight to a snow forecast.


“It’s my hope that the construction of this theatre will be our equivalent of the anticipated snowstorm that turns out not to be a bother at all and whatever we can do to make that happen we will do,” Paulson said.


Paulson notes they’ve made significant changes to the building plans after listening to the community, including adjustments to dampen sound and create a parking map for patrons.


The changes were well received by a few residents. One, Ronald Bowman, says this isn’t just a NIMBY issue, it’s determining the vision of Rehoboth Beach into the future.


The planning commission had so many requests for comment they are spreading them out over two days. The commission holds another public hearing Friday, February 5th.

Roman Battaglia a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.


Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.