Mayor & Commissioners' Workshop October 6, 2014

Mayor and Commissioners meeting

October 6, 2014


The Mayor and Commissioners met in a Workshop meeting on October 6, 2014. All Commissioners were present.


Among the issues discussed and action taken:


Rental Properties, Noise Issues, Swimming Pools

The City's consultant, Kyle Gulbronson of URS Corporation, reported on findings regarding a study of the impact on residential neighborhoods of large houses, swimming pools, rental licenses and noise. The working group of Gulbronson, the City Manager, the Chief of Police, and the Chief Building Official, collected data, as requested by the Mayor and Commissioners, regarding the number of noise complaints, pool permits, and building permits for rental housing issued over the last three years, and did an initial analysis of the data. The presentation is available on the City website under Ongoing Business.


Among other findings:

-  There has been a dramatic increase in the number of permits requested for swimming pools from 2012-2014 (10 in 2012; 17 in 2013; and 29 applications in 2014).


-  A large percentage of the pools have been built at rental properties. Most of these rental properties have 3-5 bedrooms.


  • There are approximately 100 pools or hot tubs within the city. Using City records, URS estimates 61 of those are on rental properties.

    - The number of noise complaints has increased at properties with pools or hot tubs, although the complaints have not necessarily mentioned the pools.

    - In 2014, the majority of noise complaints were for owner-occupied homes. However, 26 percent of noise complaints in 2014 have been for noise at rental properties, up from 22 percent in 2013 and 14 percent in 2012.

    The working group made several recommendations to resolve some of the problems, with implementation varying from 0-2 months to 5-6 months.

    Short-term recommendations (0-2 months) included more enforcement of current noise ordinances and better education of the residents, renters and the police department, and the possible establishment of a noise control board, similar to the one in place in Ocean City, MD. A Board could have the power to revoke rental licenses for repeat offenders. These steps would make handling of complaints more consistent, but would increase the workload for our Police and Staff. Discussion included whether the city would enforce noise ordinances proactively, or only in response to complaints.

    With regard to swimming pools, a few communities have strict regulations of pools, and provisions could be added to the City Code with requirements including construction, noise attenuation issues, and health and safety requirements. In some communities, quiet hours are enforced as well.

    Regarding rental homes, rental regulations can be reviewed and greater education is needed on a regular basis for owners and rental agencies. Inspections can be either periodic or complaint-driven. In the same discussion, the possibility of occupancy limits was discussed. Many communities create some sort of certificate or posted sign to identify rental properties and the occupancy limits. Again, enforcement of these regulations and inspections increase the workload on the Police and City staff.

    There are also some zoning and development changes to be considered, including reduction of the size of homes, increasing setbacks to increase green space between homes, parking requirements based on the number of bedrooms in a home, and new grading and drainage plans for new single family homes. Drainage requirements could also address the process of drainage of swimming pools. These changes would each require a public hearing, so they could be implemented in the 5-6 month timeframe. (There is a new State law requiring cities to create more detailed drainage plans.)

    The Mayor asked if the working group could bring examples of effective noise ordinances for consideration by the Commission. He also commented that it seems we are "paving over the city" and we need to consider the green space issue very soon. Gulbronson said the working group will assemble codes on all of these issues, and distribute them to the Mayor and Commissioners for discussion. The Mayor suggested they be discussed at upcoming workshop meetings, or at special meetings called to discuss them.

    Citizen comment was taken, with several people adding comment about the importance, and also the difficulty, of enforcement of noise and rental regulations.


    Electric Vehicle Charging Station

    The electric vehicle charging station will be installed at the "Mariner's Park" near the Henlopen Condominiums. Implementation and operational details will be the responsibility of the City Manager.


    City Manager's Report

    There will be an informational meeting at 2:00pm on October 16 in the Commissioners' Room at City Hall, conducted by Kercher Engineering, regarding the streetscape improvements proposed for the section of Lake Ave between Rehoboth Ave and 3rd Street.

    DelDOT has agreed to delay the start of the ADA sidewalk improvement project in the City until October 27, after the Sea Witch Festival.


    Announcement of Public Hearing Regarding Swimming Pool Moratorium

    The public hearing for the swimming pool moratorium will be held on October 17 at 7 PM on the second floor of the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company located at 219 Rehoboth Ave.

    The next regular meeting of the Mayor and Commissioners will be held the evening of October 17, following the public hearing.