Fenwick Island To Seek Permits For Bay Dredging Project

FENWICK ISLAND – Officials in Fenwick Island say they will begin seeking permits as negotiations continue with a local developer to place materials from a dredging project on a nearby property.

In a Fenwick Island Town Council meeting last Friday, Councilman Bill Rymer, chair of the town’s dredging committee, provided an update on a long-awaited dredging project in the Little Assawoman Bay. As permitting work continues, he said officials were working with Carl M. Freeman Companies to potentially utilize its Route 54 property as a dredging placement site.

“We’re still in discussions with a local developer,” he said. “We are making progress and continue to express sincere interest to make the project happen. But it is taking a long time.”

Plans to dredge roughly 19,000 cubic yards of material from the Little Assawoman Bay began in earnest in 2018, when the town hired Tony Pratt, a former administrator for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), to guide them through the funding and permitting processes. And in 2019, Anchor QEA, a Lewes-based engineering firm, was brought on board to provide design, bidding and construction management.

Earlier this year, members of the dredging committee reconvened to discuss three potential placement sites for material that will ultimately be dredged from the bay. At the time, Rymer noted that while the town continued to explore locations such as Seal Island and Seatowne, it was starting to reevaluate a parcel of land off Route 54 owned by Carl M. Freeman Companies.

“This was the location that was being discussed two years ago,” he said at the time. “Their timeframe had changed, so about one-and-a-half years ago they told the town they were going to proceed with their development plans without utilizing our dredged material. However, they came back to us later last fall.”

From those discussions came a renewed interest in partnering with the town and using its dredged materials on the company’s property. Since January, the town has been working with its solicitor’s office, and a specialized environmental attorney, to draft a legal agreement that could allow the partnership, and permitting, to move forward.

“Similar to what was done in 2020, we may actually file permit applications with the Army Corps and DNREC before we actually finalize the land access agreement with the developer,” Rymer told community members last week. “We received an updated letter from the developer which is basically expressing their understanding that a may project may happen on their property, they understand what the project is, and that they’re working with the town to finalize an agreement that would allow us to progress with permit applications. We’ve got all the other documentation necessary to file the two permits to Army Corps and DNREC.”

Rymer said filing the permit applications will allow the town to meet the state’s dredging window, which begins in October and ends in March.

“If it takes six months, and we get approval in November, that allows you to hit the dredging window before the end of March …,” he said. “It will be a minor expense, it will cost something. But again, we’ve got most of the documentation and information ready to go. So we might pull that trigger purely to protect that dredging window.”

Rymer noted that conversations with the developer will continue in the coming days.

“I continue to say two more weeks, and now it’s two more weeks,” he said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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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.