Resident Calls for Mayor, Commissioner Recusal Over Pool Debate - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Resident Calls for Mayor, Commissioner Recusal Over Pool Debate

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REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. - One resident is making waves in Rehoboth Beach, writing a letter to the Board of Commissioners demanding the recusal of Mayor Sam Cooper and Commissioner Patrick Gossett from any discussions of the pool ordinance. The resident - John Bloxom - said the two are involved in a major conflict on interest.

This comes just weeks away from a commissioner meeting, to discuss a pool ordinance, which has been hotly debated in town for much of the year. In October, the commissioners voted to place a moratorium on the construction of any new pools in town. Then back in April, this moratorium was extended for two more months.

The moratorium was placed, while the commissioners considered ways to adjust the pool ordinance in order to crack down on problems of noise and lighting at pools in large rental homes during the summer.

But Bloxom said a conflict of interest is at play. Gossett and Cooper are both owners of property, used as rental homes, which do not have pools. For this reason, Bloxom said any ordinances eliminating rental homes with pools, would give them a financial advantage.

"The conflict of interest is that Mayor Cooper and Commissioner Gossett will benefit personally and financially," he said. "From the enactment of this ordinance. It will effectively take out of play and out of the market all rental properties with swimming pools."

The primary concern for Bloxom is an amendment to the ordinance, proposed by Cooper, which would make it impossible for large, seasonal rental homes to have pools in the future.

"A public official is not allowed to vote with his pocket book," he said.

Cooper told WBOC that the ordinance, and the amendment that followed had nothing to do with his financial gain. Rather he said it centered on community concerns.

"It's not about that," he said. "It's about addressing legitimate concerns brought to us by citizens."

Cooper said that the commissioners were grappling with balancing the competing concerns of full-year residents, and seasonal rental homes.

"That balance..." he said. "Is tipped to the point where the residents of the town are at a huge disadvantage. And in fact have lost a good part of the use of their property."

Bloxom and his wife Lori have created a group called "Save Our Nation's Summer Capital," in order to fight for the recusal. Bloxom said that he is willing to bring his concerns to the Commission on Public Integrity, if his demands are not met.

On June 19th, The Commission will discuss both the ordinance and the amendment. Cooper said that extending the moratorium even longer was an option, if the commission wasn't ready to vote.

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