Silver Lake property owner told to remove dumped fill

Sussex County follows up on February notice of violation spurred by concerned neighbors
March 29, 2024

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

A little more than a month ago, Sussex County issued a notice of violation to a property owner on Silver Lake for dumping an unknown amount of fill along the southwestern edge of the lake between Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach.

Now, pending a formal permitting approval process, Sussex County Planning & Zoning Director Jamie Whitehouse has told property owner Anthony Crivella that all of the fill must be removed, with the parcel being regraded and restored back to its original condition.

In early February, neighbors and members of Save Our Lakes Alliance3 brought the issue to the attention of the county after dozens of loads of dirt were dumped on the parcel.

In a March 22 letter, Whitehouse said the county had not been contacted by Crivella since the violation notice was issued Feb. 6, no permit applied for, and no hydrologic and hydraulic engineering analyses submitted.

“If we do not hear from the property owner within 30 days of the date of this letter, we shall have no choice but to assume that there is no intent to respond,” said Whitehouse. “Formal action may then become necessary to remedy any outstanding violation of the code of Sussex County.”

Part of the confusion surrounding the issue is related to the Sussex Conservation District issuing a sediment and stormwater permit in July.

Rick Hardy, SOLA3 treasurer, was one of the neighbors who reached out to the county. He said the county’s position is a great start, and that SOLA3 would like the county and conservation district to change the permitting process that allowed this to occur. 

Hardy said the Sussex Conservation District issued the permit without knowing the property was in a floodplain or exactly what the property owners were planning to do. Additionally, there should be buffer zones around all waterways to protect the water quality and habitat of the animals that live there.

“These lakes are a Delaware treasure and need more active protection from [Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environment Control] and the county,” said Hardy, adding that a petition against the work has more than 275 signatures.

David Baird, Sussex Conservation District coordinator, said SCD does not have a comment on the county's position. He said it appears the county’s position is based on a number of factors outside SCD's jurisdiction and responsibilities. 

Additionally, Baird said SCD stands by the previously issued sediment and stormwater permit that was issued for the project. 

Whitehouse’s letter said his understanding is that since the February notice was issued, Crivella, who declined to comment for this story, has entered into discussions with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and that potential remedial action to remove some of the fill and then regrade the parcel is being explored.

“Please note that the removal of some of the fill recently transported onto the parcel, and the regrading of the slope, would not resolve the violation of the code of Sussex County,” said Whitehouse.

Steve Rochette, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District spokesman, confirmed the Army Corps is investigating the matter, but couldn’t comment beyond that.

Sussex County spokesperson Chip Guy declined to comment on the issue because it is an active matter of investigation. However, he did confirm the authenticity of the letter and that as of March 26, the county has received no response.


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