Some Business Owners See Dover's Historic District as Obstacle - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Some Business Owners See Dover's Historic District as Obstacle

Posted: 10/18/2017 20:13:00 -04:00 Updated:

DOVER, Del. -- Dover is 300 years old and, like many of Delaware's older towns and villages, has a historic district.

However, some business owners like Sam Chick, who recently opened a smoke and vape shop called Puffster, believe the historic district should not include parts of Downtown Dover, like the commercial corridor along Loockerman Street.

"At a minimum I would like to see it reined in to the actual historic buildings but actually I would like to just see it done away with altogether," he said.

After initially failing to receive approval from the city's historic district committee to illuminate the box sign above his store front, Chick on Monday got the go-ahead from the city's planning commission. He said the unlit sign was confusing customers about whether or not he was open and waiting for the issue to be reheard by the historic district commission, which was not able to issue a majority ruling in his first request to light the sign, would have taken at least another month.

"I'm glad it turned out the way it did, but I had to go through a month-and-a-half long process from after we opened to do this and the entire time we were open we couldn't light the sign," he said.

Land use projects and many other special use requests are considered by the historic district board, said Joe McDaniel, a commission member, who voted for Chick's request.

McDaniel said he can understand the challenges business owners face in trying to deal with restrictions in the district, but believes the overlay area has an important function in helping stir economic development through historical properties.

"The rules don't have to be onerus but I think that we obviously have to have an historic district," he said.

Phil McGinnis, a commercial realtor from Dover, said business and property owners face additional regulation if they wish to re-locate or operate in the historic district. 

The area, McGinnis said, contains homes and structures dating back centuries but also includes Loockerman Street, which saw significant development in the 1900s.

 "Whether or not it needs to be governed by or judged by the historic district commission, is questionable in my opinion," he said.

 

 

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