New Ordinances regarding Rehoboth Lakes proposed (Update March 23, 2012)

Rehoboth to enact lake protections

Planners to consider setbacks, buffers in new ordinance

By Ryan Mavity, Cape Gazette March 23, 2012

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The Rehoboth Beach Planning Commission has begun the process of coming up with new residential building ordinances to protect the city's lakes.

The planners were charged, via a resolution by the city com­missioners, with creating one or more ordinances for protecting the city’s three lakes – Silver Lake, Lake Gerar and Lake Com­egys.

The resolution, drafted by Commissioner Patrick Gossett, calls for balancing the interests of property owners with the in­terests of other citizens to enjoy the beauty of the lakes.

The planners could consider ordinances on issues such as buffer zones and setback regula­tions.

The 2004 and 2010 compre­hensive development plans both call for the creation of buffer zones, but the city commission­ers have never enacted them.

The call for action comes in the wake of the controversy sur­rounding the house at Lot 6 Sil­ver Lane off Silver Lake. While the house was granted a building permit, it drew fire when oppo­nents saw the foudation seeming to rise out of the lake.

On the advice of their attorney, the commissioners did not wish to comment specifically on the Silver Lane situation, because the matter is still in the legal process. On March 19, the city's board of adjustment declined to rehear an appeal of the building permit. However, the house loomed over the proceedings.

“This is something that needs to be addressed,” Gossett said of the resolution.

Commissioners Bill Sargent, Pat Coluzzi, Mark Hunker and Mayor Sam Cooper all applaud­ed the resolution as a necessary next step.

The resolution passed by a 6-1 vote, with Commissioner Stan Mills as the only no vote. Mills said he voted against the resolu­tion because of the expedited way in which it was passed, with no discussion or study prior to a vote.

Coluzzi also suggested a mora­torium on all future building along the lakes while the plan­ning commission is working on the ordinances; Lot 6 would be excluded.

That option was ruled out for now, because it would require changing the zoning code.

Sallie Forman, president of Save Our Lakes Alliance3, one of the parties appealing building in­spector Terri Sullivan’s decision to grant a building permit to Lot 6 Silver Lane, said, “There is a problem that’s out there that is begging for commissioner ac­tion.”

Forman said twice before, SOLA3 and neighbors met with city officials to discuss setbacks and survey issues surrounding the house at Lot 6, and yet noth­ing was done. Forman said she was very disappointed with the city, which was given SOLA3’s conservation award in 2010; the plaque commemorating the award was on the wall above the commissioners’ heads.

“I think to myself, ‘Should I go over and take that plaque down?’” Forman said.

Another opponent of the house, neighbor Marti Cochran, said, “We did not want to file an appeal. We began working the minute there was a problem with this wall rising up in the water.”

She said opponents have tried to show city officials the set­backs on the house were based on inaccurate surveys, but noth­ing was done.

Cochran, along with SOLA3, the Rehoboth Beach Homeown­ers’ Association and Silver Nine LLC hired attorney Gene Law­son, and since the commission­ers did nothing, they filed an ap­peal with the board of adjust­ment. However, the board re­fused to hear the case because the appellants did not file their appeal within 30 days, as re­quired.

Cochran said if the city com­missioners took ownership of the Lot 6 situation, the appellants would drop their appeal.

“We want to work with the city and have the city address this,” she said.

City Solicitor Glenn Mandalas said the city commissioners have been attentive and concerned about the issues at Lot 6. But, he said, the ball is now in the board of adjustment’s court and any comment the city commission­ers make could impinge on the appeals process.

Mandalas said the city com­missioners could not take own­ership of Lot 6, since the com­missioners do not have the au­thority to set property lines.

Planners get started

The resolution gives the plan­ning commission 90 days to make a full report to the commis­sioners.

Planning Commissioner David Mellen, speaking on behalf of the commission, said a full, compre­hensive report in 90 days might be wishful thinking; the commis­sion would expedite the process. Chairman Preston Littleton is seeking public involvement in the process, asking citizens and organizations to provide input starting at the commission’s next meeting, 7 p.m., Friday, April 13, in the city commissioners’ room. Comments can be given in oral or written form. Those who can­not attend the meeting can either email the city secretary at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or provide written copies at the building and licensing office, 306 Rehoboth Ave.

Littleton said the commission will not be dealing specifically with the Silver Lane property since it is currently subject to le­gal challenge.

Resolution regarding Rehoboth Lakes passed by Mayor and Commissioners, March 16, 2012

City of Rehoboth Beach

Resolution regarding the City’s Lakes

Purpose: The purpose of this resolution is to develop ordinances and regulations which will protect the environmental health, beauty, and enjoyment of Rehoboth Beach’s lakes for all citizens.

Background: Because the City’s Comprehensive Development Plans of 2004 and 2010 specifically call for ordinances which would create a buffer zone around Silver Lake, and other measures to ensure the health of the City’s lakes, the Rehoboth Beach City Commissioners resolve that the Planning Commission develop proposed ordinances to provide for such a buffer zone, setbacks or other measures to protect the City’s lakes.

Charge to the Planning Commission:

  1. The Planning Commission will be expected to consider and make recommendations concerning the most effective means of protecting the City’s unique lakes, with particular focus on Silver Lake.
  2. The Planning Commission will establish a method of obtaining appropriate involvement from the citizens of the City of Rehoboth Beach and the general public during the process of researching and drafting the ordinances and regulations.  The interests of property owners to appropriately use their property should be balanced with the interests of other citizens to enjoy the beauty of the lakes.
  3. The Planning Commission is charged to conduct research, examine, and recommend to the City Commissioners one or more ordinances and/or regulations to protect the City’s lakes, including, but not limited to, regulating residential development around them.
  4. In its research, the Planning Commission shall review the effectiveness of existing and established buffer zones and other protective measures from the region and around the country to determine what ordinances and regulations, policies, or powers create effective protection of lakes and how such elements may be best incorporated into the ordinances and regulations of the city of Rehoboth Beach.
  5. The Planning Commission is encouraged to contact administrators or Commissioners from other communities and to use additional resources as needed to gain knowledge of the inherent impacts and benefits of such ordinances and regulations.
  6. Such ordinances may incorporate the following:
  • Determination of the environmental and aesthetic impact of structures and their relationship to the character of the surrounding area;
  • Amendment to Site Plan Review, as provided for in Section 236-30 of the Code of the City of Rehoboth Beach, which would provide for such review for any structures built on property bordering lakes or the buffer zones around them.
  • Regulations setting out a buffer zone or setback around Silver Lake, prohibiting or restricting construction or setting standards or guidelines for location of and exterior features of structures;
  • The effect of structures and buffer zones around the lakes on the health, safety and general welfare of the city;

7. The Planning Commission shall make recommendations regarding, and shall demonstrate the significant benefits of, any proposed ordinances or regulations, including the following:

  • the proper powers of city commissions or other regulatory bodies to effectively implement any new ordinances or regulations;
  • the resources required for effective enforcement of any recommended ordinances or regulations, as well as effective communication to, and education of, the citizens of Rehoboth Beach regarding such ordinances and regulations;
  • further steps to be taken in concert with DNREC and other State agencies, Sussex County and Dewey Beach to protect the health and enjoyment of Silver Lake.


The Planning Commission shall make a written report of their findings and recommendations to the City Commissioners within 90 days of the passage of this resolution.  Monthly reports on progress of the Planning Commission shall be made to the City Commissioners by the Planning Commission Chairman or his designee at each regular meeting of the Mayor and Commissioners.