Proposed dock on Rehoboth’s Silver Lake draws scrutiny

Critics argue application incomplete, structure too big, violates city code
November 13, 2020

Story Location:
6 Silver Lane
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

A proposed dock and kayak launch for a home on Silver Lake in Rehoboth Beach has drawn the ire of neighbors, city officials and a nonprofit created to protect the lake’s natural environment.

According to a public notice posted Oct. 14 by Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Water, Luis Riesco, owner of 6 Silver Lane, has submitted an application to stabilize the lake’s shoreline by installing 77 linear feet of vegetated mechanically stabilized earth bags and to construct a 4-foot-wide-by-35-foot-long pier, a 5-foot-wide-by-20-foot-long L-shaped-dock, a 5-foot-wide-by-14-foot-long floating kayak dock and one associated ladder.

Leading the charge against the dock and shoreline stabilization project is Sallie Forman, Save Our Lakes Alliance3 founder and president. She submitted a letter Nov. 2 to DNREC saying the organization is familiar with the property because they were opposed to the house being constructed so close to the lake’s shoreline.

Forman explains that after the house was constructed, in an effort to prevent a similar project from happening in the future, SOLA3’s lawyer did an extensive title search proving the state has always owned Silver Lake and Lake Comegys, a small lake to the south of Silver Lake between Rehoboth and Dewey Beach. In her letter, Forman argues the application is incomplete, the project is too big and the deed of the property is not accurate.

“Being allowed to build massive private structures on what is essentially public land is a privilege, not a right,” said Forman. “With that privilege must come responsibility by the applicants to meet existing community standards as to size and scope of adjoining docks, to consider other alternative that will lessen the taking of public lands, and to assure that adjoining property owners may continue to enjoy the beauty and tranquility provided by Silver Lake, a public, natural resource.”

Rehoboth Beach City Manager Sharon Lynn has also submitted a letter to DNREC opposing the application because a portion of the pier would be supported by four pilings in the 10-foot, no-build buffer around Silver Lake, which is not allowed by city code. The construction of that portion of the pier could only be completed with a valid building permit from the city, but the city can’t issue the permit because that section is in the buffer zone she said.

Martha Cochan, Riesco’s neighbor to the west, has retained professional wetland scientist Edward Launay of Selbyville-based Environmental Resources Inc. to comment on the proposed application.

Launay argues the application has many issues involved - it’s too wide, it’s too long, it’s proposed to be built with the 10-foot buffer, it disturbs too much subaqueous land, the shoreline is already stabilized  - but primarily that it’s incomplete. The current application does not provide any evidence of hardship or inability to meet the project purpose, which is a kayak launching, he said.

“As an environmental consultant with over 40 years of experience working with the department on similar projects, I am also unable to fully understand exactly what is being proposed and what the real extent of impacts to both public and private subaqueous lands actually are,” wrote Launay.

In an email Nov. 10, DNREC spokesperson Micheal Globetti said DNREC staff are reviewing the comments about the proposed project and will determine the next step for this application, including whether to hold a public hearing.

Editor’s Note: A picture of the wrong house appeared in the Friday, Nov. 13, issue of the Cape Gazette. This is the correct house.

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