Pools, noise, mini-hotels

A letter from Save Our City sent to the Mayor and Commissioners on February 21 is printed below. The letter addresses the issues of pools, the noise associated with pools, and the consequences of over building in the city's residential neighborhoods.

Citizen input is vital. If you share these concerns, Save Our City encourages your to contact the Mayor and Commissioners.


Mayor and Commissioners:

As you know, Save Our City is a group of full-time and part-time residents of Rehoboth Beach dedicated to the ideal of nurturing and improving the unique character of our entire community, and committed to its long-term quality of life. We have been engaged for several years in policy discussions and political activity in Rehoboth Beach, in order to preserve what is best about the City and make suggestions for improvements where we see opportunities to do so. Historically we have been most active in supporting measures proposed and enacted by the Mayor and Commissioners to preserve the essential character of our residential neighborhoods, such as the reduction of the FAR and support for other measures to prevent the "mansionization" of the City.

The latest threat to the character of our city is the proliferation of what have become known as “mini-hotels”, large homes built in our residential neighborhoods for the express purpose of rental to large groups of vacationers for strictly commercial purposes. The owners do not intend for them to be used primarily by their families, nor do the owners intend to be neighbors by using them often during the primary rental season.

When public concern over these houses and swimming pools and the resulting noise from them became a public issue last summer, you recognized, along with Save Our City and many other citizens, that this was a serious issue. But we also realized it is only a symptom of larger and more complex issues related to overbuilding in the city. We commend you for the prompt public hearing in which many of our members participated, and creation of a moratorium on new swimming pool permits. We also applaud the action to get expert assistance in order to move toward the enactment of ordinances to address these concerns before the moratorium ends in April.

The real test, however, will be the substance of these ordinances, including the comprehensive coverage of the key problems and a serious commitment to enforcement. The draft considered at the workshop meeting on Monday, February 9, represents a good beginning, but we encourage you to improve and strengthen the current draft. We suggest that the final package of new ordinances should include:

  • New and more specific rules on the permitting of new swimming pools. The location of pool equipment and sound buffering measures will be an essential part of these rules.
  • The inclusion of pools in the FAR calculation at the time of permitting. While we support the serious effort to continue work on a package of new ordinances including FAR, setbacks and other zoning issues, this item should be included in the pool regulations, and should not wait for action at a later time.
  • Amendments to the noise ordinance that address pool disturbances and other forms of noise, and that are enforceable against both property owners and renters. Enforcement penalties for rental properties should increase fines on the owners to levels that are proportionate to the high rental returns from these properties, and should specifically include forfeiture of rental licenses for repeated violations. The draft ordinance under consideration envisions such action after six violations, which we feel is a far too lenient measure. We suggest three verifiable violations at any rental property should result in revocation of the rental license for one year.
  • Provisions in the City budget for increases for both licensing and enforcement resources that ensure that the new standards can and will be enforced rigorously.
  • Full notice and a public hearing processes before the expiration of the moratorium as part of the enactment of the new ordinances.

We would be happy to continue to discuss these points and provide any additional support we can offer to see that they are included in the ordinances being considered. We commend you for taking on these issues, and stand prepared to continue our involvement to ensure the character of our beloved city is preserved and enhanced.


Best regards,


Save Our City


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