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Rehoboth Beach hires first director of planning and community development

Submitted photo

Mary Ellen Grace is the City of Rehoboth Beach’s first director of planning and community development.

Before assuming her new role Monday, Gray worked as the director of planning, inspections, and community development in Dover and director of planning and development for Newark before that.

She believes creating this position shows just how seriously Rehoboth takes development issues and that the city is ready to address housing and planning needs.

“It’s an indication that the City of Rehoboth is taking its next step – that there’s a lot of redevelopment going on, there’s a lot of development, and wants to be very procedural about it. And, you know, Rehoboth is such a jewel in the crown in Delaware," she said.

Gray says Rehoboth has been facing redevelopment pressures for a while, and she plans to look into the 2020 Rehoboth Beach Comprehensive Development Plan and assess where the city is at in its implementation.

The recently released 2023 Delaware Housing Needs Assessment indicates Sussex County home prices are almost $100,000 above the state’s average and over 30,000 seasonal units are needed to keep up with household growth through 2030.

Gray says there’s no quick fix to these problems, and she’s looking into getting feedback from all over Delaware.

“We were looking at forming a statewide work group looking at affordable housing and seeing what policy recommendations we could come up with to recommend to the governor, and also, to recommend amongst ourselves.”

In addition to affordable housing issues, Gray says her development priorities include maintaining Rehoboth’s vibrancy, small-town feel and high quality of life for residents and visitors.

Before residing in Dover, DE, Sarah Petrowich moved around the country with her family, spending 8 years in Fairbanks, AK, ten years in Carbondale, IL and 4 years in Indianapolis, IN. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 2023 with a dual degree in Journalism and Political Science.