Dewey Beach Twice Denies Ed's Chicken Grandfathered Status

Posted: Mar 13, 2018 1:48 AM
By Nicole Edenedo

(DEWEY BEACH, Del) - The former site of Ed's Chicken and Crabs is no longer a grandfathered structure should the property owners seek to rebuild.

Dewey Beach's Board of Adjustment affirmed the town's Feb. 8 decision Monday night to deny the application for the eatery to rebuild as a nonconforming establishment that would not have to adhere to current zoning codes.

The council said the two main issues argued on behalf of the property owners at its last meeting on Feb. 26 could not be overlooked: he property owners wanted to maintain its outdoor cooking status as a non-conforming property, as well as build a ground-level structure in a flood zone that requires three foot height elevation for all buildings.

"We decided the new rules about flood management were for the benefit of the town and that whatever happened on that lot would have an impact on surrounding lots and public safety," said the board's chairwoman Beverly Corelle.

The decision comes two weeks after property owner Rusty Catt's testified his plea to the council to appeal the town's initial vote.

"If I could sell a cold soda and a bag of potato chips, that would be wonderful," Catts said.

The property owner said he hoped to be able to operate by this summer. The site has sat vacant with no plans to rebuild in site for almost 18 months.

Cooking outdoors in Dewey Beach requires a conditional use permit, according to town code, which also do not outline or regulate rules for year round outdoor cooking establishments.

Not meeting flood elevation requirements could potentially put the town at risk of losing its flood insurance, according to a representative from the Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control's National Flood Insurance Program office.

The Board of Adjustment has 30 days to make their decision official and enter it into public record. Following that the property owners have another 30 days to appeal that decision in state court.
The property owners can reapply to rebuild on the former Ed's Chicken site as long as they plan to meet the town's current codes and flood elevation requirements.

Ed's Chicken was destroyed in a fire caused by a drunk driver, 37-year old Michelle Small of Wyoming, in August 2016.