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Rehoboth Beach commissioners approve Clear Space critic to planning comission

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Rehoboth Beach Commissioners wrapped up the latest reversal of Clear Space Theatre’s site plan approval, but not without last minute controversy.


Rehoboth Beach Commissioners officially wrapped up their second reversal of the Clear Space Theatre site plan approval Friday.


But after a vote at the appeal hearing weeks ago, the dissenting commissioners still sought to prevent the reversal from going through.


Commissioner Pat Coluzzi says this decision could spell the end of Clear Space in Rehoboth Beach.


“Those commissioners that voted to reverse the planning commission's decision say there’s a clear path to keep Clear Space in town,” Coluzzi said. “I can’t believe for one minute that Clear Space would start the process all over again and submit a new plan to the planning commission.”


Coluzzi’s attempt to sway her fellow commissioners to reconsider their decision found no support, with other commissioners saying nothing has come to light to warrant a change.


At the same meeting, some commissioners and members of the public were concerned about a new appointment by the mayor to the planning commission.


Mayor Stan Mills nominated Julie Davis to the commission weeks ago, but pulled it from the agenda after receiving pushback.


Davis has been an outspoken opponent of the Clear Space Theatre from the start, and resident Richard Perry says the timing of her appointment is poor.


“Whether or not Ms. Davis recuses herself, whether or not Mr. Ellison recuses himself, your nomination sends a message to the other planning commissioners as to how you want this matter to be resolved,” Perry said.


But Davis has support from both members already on the planning commission, and the mayor, who say despite any conflicts, would be a great asset and recognize when to recuse herself from a vote.


Davis was ultimately approved 5-2, with Coluzzi voting no and commissioner Edward Chrzanowski abstaining.


It’s still unknown if Clear Space plans to resubmit their site plan for approval a third time, seek legal action or simply go find another city more accommodating.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport 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.
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