Navigation Worries Relayed Over Proposed Marina; Public Hearing Held On Application

FENWICK ISLAND – Concerns over a proposed marina outside town limits highlighted a public hearing last week.

Last Thursday, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Division of Water, Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section held a public hearing on an application to construct and operate a marina off Lighthouse Road west of Fenwick Island.

The permit application – submitted by Christopher at the Townes At Bayshore Village, LLC – outlines plans for a community docking facility associated with the redevelopment of the former Lighthouse Cove Residential Community, located on the north side of Route 54.

Julie Molina of DNREC’s Division of Water, Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section told community members last week this is the second marina permit application to be submitted for the Lighthouse Cove site in less than a year. Last year, developers with Lighthouse Cove Investors, LLC withdrew their application in response to several objections by nearby property owners.

“This new application we are going to go over today is from the new property owner and they have slightly modified the project plans from this Lighthouse Cove Investors permit application,” she said.

The redevelopment project, to be known as The Townes At Bayshore Village, will consist of 18 townhomes and 18 boat slips, according to subaqueous land and marina permit application submitted to DNREC. Mooring of homeowner-owned vessels and the reconstruction of an existing pier are proposed along the property’s lagoon frontage.

The developer has applied to construct and operate a new 18-slip minor marina by installing a 16-inch-wide, 700-foot-long boardwalk, two 6-foot-wide, 24-foot-long piers and five boat lifts with four associated pilings, according to DNREC. The application also calls for dredging a portion of public subaqueous lands and two unnamed lagoons southeast of Lighthouse Cove and disposing the dredged material onsite.

While most of the property’s boat slips would be located over private subaqueous land to the east and west of the property, six of the proposed slips to the north of the property would be located on public subaqueous land.

“It’s the applicant’s opinion that the plan as proposed complies with all the setbacks and channel encroachments that are included in the current subaqueous lands regulations,” said Edward Launay, a project consultant with Environmental Resources Incorporated. “With respect to navigation, it is the applicant’s position that the proposed layout and design will have no impact to existing navigational channels or lagoons. Boats will continue to be moored along the bulkhead just as they have been for many, many years.”

Community members in attendance at last week’s meeting, however, argued the six north-end boat slips would impact navigation for boats entering and exiting the canal. Ed Hartwell, who lives to the east of the proposed marina project, said adding boats to the north of the redeveloped property would narrow the canal significantly.

“I go through there with an 18-foot boat, a 23-foot boat and a canoe,” he said. “A lot of people use that, and it’s a very dangerous corner there if you are on a kayak, a paddleboard or a canoe because you can’t see what’s coming in either direction.”

Jim Deleo, who owns a home to the east of the proposed marina project, shared his safety concerns. He said boat traffic entering and exiting the private marina could harm those using the canal for kayaking, paddleboarding and other recreational activities.

“My major problem is that I think this is such a big project it’s going to impact the area negatively …,” he said. “I’m afraid if you have 18 boats and WaveRunners coming out of there someone is going to get hurt.”

Although the project would be located outside town limits, officials in Fenwick Island were also present at last week’s meeting to share their concerns. Councilman Bill Weistling said the north-end boat slips would impact town properties to the east of the proposed marina.

“That canal that runs east of that, there are approximately 40 to 42 properties,” he said. “Not all of these properties have been developed, but it is a very busy canal. Boats will be coming out and making that turn to go out to the bay … I think it could be a very congested corner there.”

Town Manager Terry Tieman agreed.

“There is a major concern over the north side of the project where six berths are proposed,” she said. “Mainly the concerns are over what appears to be a very narrow water passageway between the proposed project and the adjacent incorporated limits of the town.”

Public Hearing Officer Lisa Vest said officials will prepare a response to public concerns, which will be sent to DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin as he begins his considerations for the proposed marina project.Text here

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.