***UPDATE Lakes Planning***Rehoboth Commissioners and Planners Joint meeting September 10, 2012

State officials review Rehoboth lakes plan

Report recommends buffer, bank stabilization

By Ryan Mavity , Cape Gazette November 12, 2012

Dover — State officials say they want to know who owns Silver Lake – that question is the state's primary issue in reviewing a Rehoboth Beach report on improving the health of the city’s three lakes.

The primary focus of the report, written by the Planning Commission, is improving Silver Lake.

While the planners recommended various measures for buffers and bank stabilization, Kevin Coyle, representing the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, said the central question is, who owns the lake?

Silver Lake falls under three jurisdictions: mostly Rehoboth, but also Sussex County and Dewey Beach. DNREC has also made recent overtures that the state has ownership rights. Mayor Sam Cooper said the state has said it has ownership rights but officials are not ready to claim complete ownership.

Cooper said the city would not fight the state if state officials were to claim ownership. He said state ownership could bring a broader approach to bank stabilization, making the banks more appealing and uniform, rather than the mishmash of bulkheads, buffers and riprap now bordering the water.

Coyle said, “I think the town would love for DNREC to assume responsibility for dredging, maintaining the water level in the lake, things of that nature.”

In his Oct. 24 presentation to the Preliminary Land Use Service, or PLUS panel, Planning Commissioner David Mellen explained how developing the report started with the controversy over the house at 6 Silver Lane, which was built 6 feet from the lake's edge. While the city was unable to do anything to stop the house from being built, the city commissioners passed a moratorium preventing building around the city’s lakes. City officials also charged the planners with coming up with ordinances to preserve the lakes. The planners presented their report to the commissioners Sept. 10 and recommended the report be reviewed through a PLUS review.

Cooper said he wants to move forward on an ordinance that would establish a 10-foot no-build zone around the city’s lakes. He said he would like to get the current moratorium – which prohibits building 15-feet from the lake’s edge and expires in February – off the books.

However, Cooper said, it is unlikely the matter would be passed before the end of the year, because it would be a zoning change requiring a resolution and a public hearing.

Cooper also said he’d like to require site plan review for any property owner who builds within 25 feet of the lake. Cooper said it would be good for the city to have a chance to sit down with prospective builders and discuss and examine the impact of building so close to the lake.

State officials will follow up with the city within 20 days with written comments from the Oct. 24 meeting of PLUS, a panel of representatives from various state agencies, including, DNREC, Department of Transportation and the Office of State Planning Coordination, among others.

The 16-page planning commission report can be found at the city’s website, www.cityofrehoboth.com.

September 10 report on Workshop meeting between Board of Commissioners and Planning  Commission

The Mayor and City Commissioners met with the Planning Commissioners on September 10 to discuss the PC’s study of the City’s lakes. Mayor Cooper and Commissioners Sargent, Coluzzi, Zellers, Mills and Gossett were present (Commissioner Hunker absent), Planning Commission Chair Littleton, Planning Commissioners Mellen, Markert, Konesey, Patterson, Gauger, Anderson, Wilson were present (Planning Commissioner Shulman absent).

The SOC urges all residents to read the full draft of the study (https://imageserv2.team-logic.com/mediaLibrary/8/rehoboth_lakes_report-draft_1.pdf) which includes Understanding Lake Gerar and Silver Lake, Research and Literature on Shoreline Buffers and Ordinances, and specific recommendations on improving the health of Silver Lake.   The audio recording of the meeting (www.cityofrehoboth.com, go to Meetings & Events calendar, select Sept 10 Joint Meeting, click on audio) provides an exact report on all the discussion.

While many problems exist, the most pressing are the lack of clear ownership of Silver Lake and the failure to recognize and understand how Silver Lake functions as a stormwater management system for much of the city, and how actions of all city residents affect the quality and condition of the lake.

Specific immediate recommendations to improve Silver Lake include:

  • Dredging of west end of Silver Lake (will result in most immediate improvement in Lake)
  • Establishing a joint public-private “task force” of the jurisdictions surrounding Silver Lake to establish a long-term improvement and preservation plan
  • Requesting through the Office of State Planning a Preliminary Land Use Service (PLUS) review of this report
  • Reduction of contaminants entering the stormwater system through continuous public education and the promotion of methods that will reduce runoff
  • Amend City Code to establish a “No Build Buffer” for all properties within the City that border on Silver Lake or Lake Gerar

A small group of Commissioners was established to begin work on the recommendations: Mayor Cooper and City Commissioner Gossett, Planning Commission Chair Littleton, Vice Chair Mellen and Secretary Markert.

The Mayor and City Commissioners thanked the entire Planning Commission for its preparation of such an excellent report. Commissioner Gossett summarized with praise for “a meaningful work, and incredible statement about our heritage.”


Joint workshop meeting scheduled for September 10, 2012

There will be a joint workshop of the Rehoboth Beach City Commission and Planning Commission at 9:00 a.m. on September 10 in the Commissioners' Room of City Hall. The agenda is to discuss the draft report of the Planning Commission to the City Commission regarding steps which can be taken to improve the health of the City's lakes, especially Silver Lake.


It is not anticipated there will be public comment* taken at this meeting, but it is extremely important that the citizens of Rehoboth learn more about the City's lakes and understand how their actions impact the health of the lakes. As such, the report has been prepared with that intent.

*Mayor Cooper has indicated that time permitting, public comment will be welome.

Once the report is finalized and ordinances drafted, there will be additional meetings and public hearings to discuss any proposed ordinances.

The draft report and attachments may be read on the City 's website at http://www.cityofrehoboth.com, clicking on “Ongoing Business and Studies” on the left side of the City’s homepage and scroiling down to “Lake Health Measures” or going to: https://imageserv2.team-logic.com/mediaLibrary/8/rehoboth_lakes_report-draft_1.pdf

Buffers, site-plan review among suggested changes

By Ryan Mavity | Sep 07, 2012
Cape Gazette Sept 7, 2012
Photo by: Ryan Mavity Silver Lake will be the main topic of discussion at a joint meeting of the Rehoboth Beach commissioners and planning commission, Monday, Sept. 10.

Rehoboth Beach — The Rehoboth Beach commissioners and planning commission are set to hold a joint workshop, 9 a.m., Monday, Sept. 10, at City Hall to discuss moving forward with ordinances to protect the city's lakes.

Mayor Sam Cooper said the meeting was an opportunity for the planning commission to report its findings and get direction on where to go from here, whether to pursue crafting ordinances out of the recommendations or letting the commissioners take over.

Planning commission Chairman Preston Littleton said the meeting is an opportunity for everyone to get on the same wavelength. He said the commission was originally charged by the city commissioners with crafting ordinances for lake protection.

The commission’s recent report on the lakes makes recommendations for code changes. Littleton said he hoped the commissioners would give some guidance on pursuing the recommendations as ordinances. He said the commission has not craft ordinances so far because of the cost, in city attorney fees, and time involved.

The report, which focuses mostly on Silver Lake, establishes the jurisdiction and ownership of Silver Lake: 60 percent in Rehoboth, 35 percent within Sussex County and 4 percent in Dewey Beach. The commission said the lack of clear jurisdictional ownership of the lake complicates decisions about the lake.

Regarding water quality, the commission said as the city has developed, Silver Lake has been used as a stormwater retention pond. This has contributed to phosphates and nitrogen-related chemicals entering the lake, lowering water quality. In addition, runoff from construction has also been a factor, the commission found.

In response, the commission recommends educating for citizens to reduce runoff from their properties which directly affects the condition of the lakes. Littleton said people whose streets drain into the lake impact water quality more than people who live on the lake shore.

Besides education, the report recommends ensuring proper use of fertilizers and insecticides, requiring silt fencing for construction sites, encouraging pervious driveways, prohibiting lawn-watering systems in the public right-of-ways and implementing a convenient in-city way for residents to dispose of hazardous waste such as paints, engine oil, pesticides and herbicides.

The report recommends the city continue to install stormceptors – installed at two drain pipes into Silver Lake that prevents oils and sediments from going into the lake – and continuing to add trees throughout the city.

A major change is requiring all property owners around the lake to enact some form of lake bank stabilization, whether its through a vegetative buffer, rip rap or bulkheading.

The report also recommends establishing a no-build buffer for land 10 feet from the lake’s edge and requiring site-plan review for any residential structure to be built within 25 feet of the lake’s edge.

Finally, the report recommends petitioning DNREC to include Silver Lake in its routine monitoring, collaborating with the state on dredging the lake’s heavily silted west end and asking the state to make a determination on ownership of the lake.

Littleton said because state agencies, particularly Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, have an interest in the lakes, especially Silver Lake, it would be helpful to get the state’s thoughts on the planners’ recommendations.

Cooper said he was pleased that most of the report’s recommendations are modest and doable.

Littleton said he hopes the report is an impetus for an action plan moving forward.

Cooper said the meeting would be run like a typical workshop, with most of the conversation between the commissioners and the planners with the opportunity for public comment afterwards.

Littleton said besides this meeting, he hopes to have a major public presentation in the future. Every citizen, not just of Rehoboth, has a responsibility in the health of the lakes, Littleton said, the key is inform the public.

"We’re hoping it’s going to be a very productive meeting,” he said.

To view the planning commission’s lakes report, visit www.cityofrehoboth.com under “Ongoing business and studies.”