March 24, 2011 at 3:23 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Rehoboth official cited for ‘conflict’ in patio crackdown

The Delaware State Public Integrity Commission has issued an opinion stating that a Rehoboth Beach city commissioner who initiated a city crackdown against the use of outdoor patios by bars and restaurants may have violated a state conflict of interest law.

Several establishments that cater to a gay clientele, including the popular restaurant and bar Aqua Grill, were among the establishments targeted in a Labor Day weekend crackdown against late night use of outdoor patios. A city ordinance bars use of outdoor patios after 10 p.m. for drinking and after 11 p.m. for dining in accordance with a separate city noise ordinance. The ordinance had not been widely enforced prior to the crackdown.

Rehoboth police arrested the Aqua Grill’s co-owner during the crackdown, even though the establishment was exempt from the patio ordinance. The ordinance includes a “grandfather clause” exempting establishments in business prior to the enactment of the ordinance.

The city’s police chief joined other city officials and the head of the Rehoboth LGBT community center, Camp Rehoboth, in saying the crackdown was not aimed at gay establishments.

The PIC said in an advisory opinion that Rehoboth Commissioner Stan Mills should not have lobbied city officials to take action against establishments thought to be in violation of the patio ordinance because he owns a bed and breakfast business located next to one establishment with a patio — the gay bar Blue Moon.

According to Delmarva Now, an online news outlet, Mills walked around the town on Labor Day weekend last year to observe which establishments were violating the patio ordinance and reported to city officials that about a dozen of them were in violation. He then urged police to begin enforcing the ordinance, Delmarva Now reported.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • It’s a pity and a shame to watch what Rhoboth has turned into… Maybe today’s gays and lesbians think that they don’t need to stand up for their rights anymore. One way or the other, the homophobes have won big in RB, in many-many-many respects.

  • A little drama goes a long way Alexander –

    You must be thinking about a different beach – maybe OC. Rehoboth is one of the safest, gay friendly places we have.

    Do you think you could walk down the Boardwalk in OC hand in hand, eat together in a romantic restaurant, lay together on the beach, without being attacked?

    How have homophobes won big in RB? By enforcing laws on their books long not enforced. Come on.

    Either all laws are enforced or none are. This late night restriction is one of the reason Rehoboth is such a pleasant place, I for one and happy to see it enforced.

    “Several establishments that cater to a gay clientele, including the popular restaurant and bar Aqua Grill, were among the establishments…’ Several, not all, not only.
    Clearly this was a misunderstanding regarding a Grandfather clause.

    Such an open ended hate filled rant towards imaginary foes does no one any good. Oh sure, there have been issues, but go on down to OC, they lets hear back from you.

    Clutch your pearls girl.

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