Barber Says Dover Zoning Laws Too Restrictive - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Barber Says Dover Zoning Laws Too Restrictive

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Joseph Chilcote. Joseph Chilcote.

DOVER, Del.- Joseph Chilcote has always wanted to open up a barber shop in downtown Dover.

The Wyoming, Del., resident has been a licensed barber for years and sees clients at his home, but he recently received an offer from one of his clients to open up a shop on South State Street.

"He said that was one thing Dover was missing: that old school barber shop," he said.

State Rep. Sean Lynn (D-Dover), a client of Chilcote, offered the barber a chance to open his store in a previous law office at 315 South State Street without needing to pay rent for the first few months. The intention of the gesture was to help Chilcote get his barber shop off the ground.

But Chilcote, 30, said the City of Dover told him zoning laws in the historic district section blocked him from being able to take advantage of the arrangement.

"They're saying I don't even qualify for a conditional use permit for that area because of where it's zoned at," he said.

City Planning Director Dave Hugg said Chilcote's dilemma lies with the city's zoning restrictions for that property, which are classified under the General Residential or Office (GRO Zoning) category.

Hugg said the law allows for some businesses like law offices to operate at properties under those zones, but noted that barber shops are not among the allowed uses.

"The flip side is that literally around the corner, down the street there are vacant properties and zoned C2, for which a barber shop is a permitted use," he said.

Chilcote said he cannot afford Loockerman Street rent prices and is exploring whether he will file for a variance with the city for the State Street property.

The city's denial for the State Street property is especially frustrating, Chilcote said, because properties zoned for commercial use across the street from Lynn's property are similar to the one where he sought to open his store.

"The cost to have a building or something that's zoned for that area, is through the roof," he said. "I wouldn't be able to provide for my family."

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