A 20-boat community dock has been proposed for the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal. Concerned with environmental and aesthetic hazards, neighbors of the proposed dock opposed it at a recent hearing.
According to a wetland and subaqueous lands section permit application form filed in March, developer OHV DE LLC is looking to redevelop roughly 500 feet of shoreline on the west bank of the canal, about 650 south of the Route 1 bridge that crosses the canal outside Rehoboth Beach.
Neighbor George Shevlin has been following development of the land next to his home for more than a decade, when a developer proposed a community called Blue Point Villas II. Now, the property has changed owners and is being redeveloped as Oyster House Village. Shevlin said it’s been a tough project to track over the years.
The property is owned and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but the applicant is OHV DE, LLC, owner and developer of the proposed Oyster House Village, immediately west of the proposed marina. Oyster House Village is a yet-to-be built, but already approved residential community of 30 single-family homes.
Shevlin said, “The whole project doesn’t belong. It’s very out of character for the area.”
He has issues with construction of 30 single-family homes, but when it comes to the marina, he said he’s concerned with its effects on marine animal life and boating traffic on such a narrow part of the canal. The industrial use of this section of canal is ancient history, said Shelvin, referring to the land’s past use as an oyster-processing facility and general dump for Rehoboth.
Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control hosted a public hearing on the application May 28, and it was standing room only. Shevlin said it was filled with people who live in communities neighboring the proposed dock, including Blue Point Villas residents who already live along the canal and are not happy because the new development will be accessible only through their parking lot.
According to the application, the marina would be a community dock for Oyster House Village, with space to moor up to 20 vessels. Additional work includes remediation of severe bank erosion and removal of old docking structures remaining from when the site was an oyster processing facility.
According to the application, OHV DE LLC will allow DNREC to use a southerly portion of the dock for its dredging operation. There’s an agreement with the applicant and DNREC that no mooring of the residents boats will be permitted on the south end from Labor Day through to April 15.
In addition to the dock, a fire hydrant is proposed on the southern end of the dock, while a marina storage building, with marina signage, emergency spill kits and a portable marine pump-out station, will be located on the northern end.
Hillary Blatt, a neighbor of Shevlin, said the proposed dock is completely inappropriate for the narrow area of the canal. She said she grew up on a boat and knows 20 boats are not going to be able to navigate the tight confines of the canal.
“These aren’t going to be marine geniuses,” she said of the future users.
Blatt said in addition to the added canal traffic and safety concerns, she is concerned about light pollution, gas and oil spills in the canal and toilet usage. People aren’t going to walk back to their home to use the bathroom if they’re out on the boat drinking, she said.
Shevlin said, at this point, he’s hoping Sussex County will rein in development of the land.
“I can’t imagine all the permits have been obtained for the residential portion of this project,” he said.
DNREC spokesman Michael Globetti declined to answer questions about the proposed dock. He said the only thing he could say was that DNREC will announce the permitting decision by Secretary’s Order that will appear on the DNREC website at https://dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/secretarys-orders/. As of press deadline Monday, June 10, an order had not been posted.