Town of Fenwick Island

Proposed Pier and Dock at 1306 Schulz Road

Legal Notice

From Matthew Jones, Environmental Scientist III, DNREC-WSLS Division:

The project was placed on Public Notice # 12 on April 29, 2020 and came off of Public Notice # 12 on May 19, 2020. The project was advertised in two statewide distributed newspapers (per our regulations) as well as on the public notice section of the DNREC website ( The following was advertised:

” James Russell Bruner (1-34-23.12-16.00)- To construct a 4 by 28 foot long pier, a 6 by 35 foot long dock and to install a boat lift with four (4) associated pilings in the Little Assawoman Bay at 1306 N. Schulz Road, Fenwick Island, Sussex County, DE”.

During the public notice period (20 days) we received a request for the application and plans from the immediately adjacent neighbor on N. Schulz Road, Fenwick Island, DE. Shortly before the public notice period expired the immediately adjacent neighbor provided written comments objecting to the project. After receiving the written comments, I spoke with him about our program, explained our regulations and addressed his comments. I asked him if he would like a public hearing if this could not be resolved by addressing his concerns (navigation, orientation, channelward encroachment) and he said yes. Shortly after the public notice period expired we received comments from members of the community opposing the structure for the same reasons. Again, I spoke with many of them about how our program operates and took in their concerns.

On May 27, 2020, I met on-site at 1306 N. Schulz Road, Fenwick Island, DE with the contractor/consultant, Town of Fenwick Island Officials and Council Members to discus the regulatory authority that the DNREC- Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section has, as well as the configuration of the original proposed structure and any other feasible alternatives including a reconfiguration. Please note that the original proposed structure met regulations set fourth by the Department. However, just because the original design met our regulations does not necessarily mean that DNREC would not have asked for minimization based on the comments it had received from the public.

Additionally due to the comments received both during the public notice period and after the public notice period, I felt like it was in the best interest of all parties involved that I traverse by boat to check out the site conditions. On June 1, 2020 and June 3, 2020, I conducted a site visit by boat with a colleague and marked the channel markers with survey grade GPS (within 30 cm accuracy). Additionally, we took depth measurements at Mean Low Water (MLW) & Mean High Water (MHW) that were also marked using survey grade GPS equipment. Lastly, we ran a tape from the capboard of the retaining wall out to the following distances and deployed a mooring ball: a) 30′, b) 37′ and c) 46′. Each one of those mooring balls was also marked using survey grade GPS equipment. DNREC-WSLS captured this data because it allows us to accurately depict where the channel markers are located, setbacks from the channel, depths of the channel and to require minimization (channelward encroachment) of the proposed structure. 

While on-site June 3, 2020 Mr. Bruner who owns the lot at 1306 N. Schulz Road, Fenwick Island, DE stopped by and spoke with the contractor/consultant and myself. I explained that even though the original proposed structure met regulations set fourth by the Department, that minimization of the structure would be required because he is able to reach adequate water depths per our regulations ( 18 inches of water at mean low water) without having to extend out further. After speaking with Mr. Bruner and the contractor/consultant, DNREC suggested that the pier start at the retaining wall (landward of the Mean High Water Line-MHWL) and extend channelward to the toe of the rip-rap which is approximately 13 feet but only 10/11 feet are channelward of the MHWL and within DNREC-WSLS jurisdiction. This would place the end of the pier at approximately the same distance out as the adjacent neighbors bulkhead. From there the dock would extend along the toe of the rip-rap bringing it in closer to land and farther away from the navigation channel. The channelward encroachment of the structure would be reduced by approximately 20 feet thus reducing any impacts to navigation. Please note that per our regulations the structure meets the following: 1) does not exceed 20% width of the water body as measured from the Mean Low Water Line to the Mean Low Water line on the opposite bank, 2) It is not within 10 feet of a state navigational channel and please note that even though the navigation channel is marked it is not state-maintained but consideration to navigation was taken into account after receiving public comments, 3) the applicant has exhibited minimization by bringing the structure in landward to reach adequate water depths at MLW (18 inches), thus reducing channelward encroachment and reducing the risk for navigational concerns. The applicant was amendable to these changes and new plans were sent over to DNREC-WSLS on June 9, 2020. I have dispersed the revised plans to concerned citizens that I received phone calls or messages from previously.

Please note that the following reconfiguration is being proposed and will be re-advertised beginning on June 24, 2020.

  • A 4 foot wide by 13 foot long pier of which only a 4 foot wide by 10 foot long section is channelward of the MHWL. The pier ends at the toe of the existing rip-rap/old wall or approximately in line with the adjacent neighbors bulkhead. 
  • A 6 wide by 45 foot long dock which will run parallel to the existing rip-rap revetment.
  • Two boat lifts (the farthest is 12 feet out, the other at approximately 8 feet). 

The reconfiguration of the structure brings it as close to the existing rip-rap revetment as possible and the total channelward encroachment from the MHWL is 28-29 feet. 

At this point, the original proposed structure is considered null and void and the revised structure will be re-advertised in two statewide distributed newspaper, as well as, placed on the public notices section of the DNREC website. The public notice period will begin on June 24, 2020 for a period of 20 days. 

On June 8, 2020, I received comments regarding the original design from  Mr. Brandon Bortner and spoke with Mr. Bortner in great length on June 9, 2020. During our conversation, I explained our regulatory authority and also gave him a background of the project from the time it has come in until present including meeting with town officials, conducting on-site meetings with the contractor and applicant and re-configuring the proposed structure based on comments received to meet the needs of all parties involved while still maintaining our regulatory authority. Shortly after our conversation on June 9, 2020 I sent the plans over to Mr. Bortner to review. On June 10, 2020, Mr. Bortner thanked me for sending over the revised plans as well as reaching out to him via phone to discuss the proposed construction.

On June 11, 2020, I spoke with Mr. Ross (adjacent neighbor) about the revised plans. I explained where we were at with the revised plans, as well as, updated him on everything that had taken place to date. I also informed him that the revised proposed construction would again be placed on public notice as the dimensions of the structures had changed from the previous public notice and that by law DNREC-WSLS is required to do so. 

Bruner Revised Structure Plans