SOLA3 has heard from many concerned citizens regarding the development of a lot along the southwest shore of Silver Lake, in Sussex County. SOLA3 has been monitoring the situation for for more that six months.
Click here: Cape Gazette Article:
UPDATE: There has been a stop work violation issued to the property owners
Who has Jurisdiction? It is Sussex County.
On June 13, 2023, SOLA3 alerted DNREC and the Sussex Conservation District (SCD) of activities to clear the property along Silver Lake in Sussex County. There was no permit posted detailing the nature of the work being performed. Sussex County dispatched an agent to inspect the area.
As a result of the inspection, the Sussex Conservation District (SCD) identified that the work on the property was initiated without permits. The property owners were advised of the need to get permits from SCD for the land disturbance and separately a permit from DelDot for driveway access to the property. The property owners complied and obtained these permits the same day. It is unclear if any fine or penalty was assessed for the failure to obtain permits before the work began.
The property owners were also informed of the need to install a silt fence and stone driveway to comply with both county and state regulations.
In December 2023, the property owner started to bring in truckloads of soil to back fill to the property with an intent to raise the elevation of the parcel to street level extending within feet from the lake’s edge. DNREC responded “If they are back filling the property above the ordinary high-water line, that activity would not be in our purview.” Additionally, SCD code allows for property disruptions less than 5,000 sq feet, to be exempt from the SCD’s required storm water and sediment control requirements even though this property is adjacent to Silver Lake. It should also be noted that this property is in a FEMA designated flood zone and is to be managed under Sussex Flood Plain Ordinances.
After several rainstorms sediment flowed into the lake as the silt fence was insufficient to retain the backfill dirt from flowing into the lake. SOLA3 alerted SCD and DNREC of this issue and despite our concerns, both agencies failed to take further action. As a result of SOLA’s continued follow up with SCD, they mandated that the owners add additional sediment control material to the silt fence.
If it weren’t for the complaints issued by SOLA3 and the community, it is doubtful that any permits would have been issued or any sediment controls put in place to protect the lake from storm water runoff. To date two permits have been issued.
A Permit and Violation from DelDot.
One permit was issued by DelDot for a stone driveway to capture dirt from getting on the road. This permit was issued after SOLA3 contacted SCD and SCD in turn alerted DelDot regarding the violation. The property owner was cited, and a violation sign was placed on the property but removed hours later.
A Permit from Sussex Conservation District (SCD)
The property owners submitted an “Application for Standard Plan Approval Residential Construction” and SCD then issued a permit. There is a clear lack of transparency as SCD does not require issued permits to be posted on the property and they don’t post them online. SOLA3 only became aware of the permit by filing a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA Request) with SCD. This situation must be remedied: the law should require that SCD permits to be posted as required by other government agencies, such as DNREC.
Further troubling to SOLA3 is that the permit issued by SCD was issued without a lot survey or environmental impact survey. As a result, no agency, or individual, can be certain that State owned adjacent lands are not being encroached. Nor does anyone know if the underground structures that allow for the flow of water between Silver Lake and Lake Comegys are being affected. This work has also disturbed the habitat of native wildlife.
Still Work To Be Done…
SOLA3 has asked SCD and State Officials to:
· Require permits to clearly state the work to be done.
· Applications for permits should be posted online and on the property before permits are issued. Once issued, permits should be posted online and on the property.
· Require stricter standards for storm water and sediment management controls for properties adjacent to lakes and other unprotected bodies of water. There should not be a one size fits all approach to storm water and sediment controls.
· Require DNREC to take a more active role in overseeing any and all requests for land disturbance and construction in and around Silver Lake and Lake Comegys.
We Need Your Help!
Let Your State and County Elected Representative Know How You Feel
Russ Huxtable, Delaware Senator 6: email@example.com
Peter C. Schwartzkopf, District 14: Peter.Schwartzkopf@delaware.gov
Mark Schaefer, Sussex County Council, District 3: https://sussexcountyde.gov/contact-us?id=96
Governor Carney, https://governor.delaware.gov/email-governor-carney/