The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has said it owns Silver Lake, but so far, the department has taken no action to regulate use of the lake.
DNREC is keeping so quiet that even Rehoboth Beach officials don’t know what the department is doing.
DNREC officials say they are in discussions with the Department of Justice on legal issues related to ownership of Silver Lake. So far, the agency has not initiated discussions with homeowners, and it will not say how many homeowners it plans to approach.
DNREC spokeman Michael Globetti said the department has no further comment on Silver Lake.
Department of Justice spokesman Jason Miller said his agency is advising DNREC on legal issues involved in management of Silver Lake, but he declined to identify the issues.
DNREC has not said how many properties surround Silver Lake, but Rehoboth Beach Commissioner Patrick Gossett said he identified 48 properties within the city on or abutting Silver Lake.
Gossett said of those, 30 face the lake but a road, such as East Lake Drive, runs between the house and the water. He said 18 properties are directly on the lake, most notably the houses on Stockley Street in Country Club Estates, Silver Lane and the end of Scarborough Street Extended.
Mayor Sam Cooper said he last spoke with DNREC a month ago, when he was told the agency would be scheduling a public meeting, but no date has been set for a meeting. Cooper said DNREC says it owns Silver Lake but is still wrestling with the implications of property owners who may have deeds that indicate their property extends into the lake.
Cooper said two properties that claim land into the lake are Newbold Square and the Thoroughgood property on Stockley Street Extended. Another is Lot 6 Silver Lane, although that deed has been disputed by attorney Gene Lawson, representing Save Our Lakes Alliance3.
Cooper said DNREC has indicated it wants a public meeting to discuss its ownership, tell the public how it plans to regulate the lake and get feedback from the community.
Commissioner Stan Mills said he has received no word from DNREC regarding ownership of Silver Lake, but he is looking forward to hearing details of the department’s management program, addressing issues such as maintaining water levels, clearing debris, shoreline management and bulkheading.
Commissioner Lorraine Zellers, who lives on Silver Lake, said it would be a good thing for the state to assume lake ownership, in order to have the lake's jurisdiction under one entity. She said DNREC's ownership and resources are important for dredging the west end of the lake.
Meanwhile city officials have been pursuing lake management policies, recently enacting a 10-foot, no-build zone around the lakes within city jurisdiction – Silver Lake and Lake Gerar. A proposed ordinance mandating site-plan review for new construction within 25 feet of the lake did not pass after the commissioners’ deadlocked on their vote. However, the ordinance is expected to be taken up again at a future meeting.