Rehoboth Beach hires city planner
Rehoboth Beach has hired a city planner to help fix the city’s development headaches.
City officials prioritized hiring a city planner afte issues arose during the Clear Space Theatre site plan approval, which many people argue would have already received approval had a planner in place to help iron out the issues.
The city has brought in Thomas West part time to look at new applications and work with developers to solve problems before plans go in front of the Planning Commission.
City manager Sharon Lynn adds West will also play an important role before any site plan comes before the Planning Commission.
“In a more friendly way [they will] sit down with an applicant, with the chief building inspector from the get go upon submission — try to come up with some solutions in the beginning so we don’t have problems at the end,” Lynn said.
Because of public records laws, the Planning Commission can’t usually meet with developers outside of public meetings.
Lynn says the city planner can, and will serve as a liaison between the city and developer to help avoid problems like those encountered by Clear Space Theatre.
Lynn says making the role part time is intentional.
“In general I don’t believe that the city needs a full time planner,” she said. “We have projects on the table but the city’s pretty much built out. We’re looking at redevelopment and any additions that come in will be part of that redevelopment aspect.”
West previously worked for the city of Lewes as its city planner through 2019, and brings 30 years of experience working for the Chester County Planning Commission in Pennsylvania.
Lynn says he’s contracted out through at least the end of next March, and she hopes to see improvements made to how new developments are approved during that time.
Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.