Proposed Housing Units for Bethany Beach Wetland Creating Concer - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Proposed Housing Units for Bethany Beach Wetland Creating Concern; Public Hearing Friday

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BETHANY BEACH, Del. - At a public hearing on Friday night, hosted by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, dozens of community members in Bethany Beach are expected to speak in opposition to a proposed housing development on a wetland. The housing unit would be located on a nearly 2-acre parcel of wetland, west of Weigand Avenue, and north of Route 26. 

The project was proposed by Stan Walcek, a resident of Bethany Beach, who has lived in town for 54 years. He is looking to build six multi-family homes, with a total of 24 units, on 1.9 acres of wetland. The application has been met by major opposition from people in town, who have argued that the wetland is a crucial mitigator against flooding. 

Former mayor Jack Walsh has been one of the main advocates against the project. He described the wetland as a "sponge" that retained the water, and prevented flooding.

"If you live in Bethany Beach," said Walsh. "No matter what, you're always going to be exposed to flooding. No matter where you live. And people see this. And they say why are we trying to fill wetlands."

Walcek did not want to speak about the specifics of the application since there is a pending permit, but told WBOC that he believes the application is within the scope of the regulations.

"We have ample regulations on wetlands in this state," he said. "But I'm filling this property pursuant to those regulations." 

The town council and the Bethany Beach Landowner Association have both voted in unanimous opposition to the proposal. Councilman Bruce Frye believes a large crowd will be at Friday's public hearing. 

"Every email I've gotten," he said. "And the council has gotten is against it. I've not seen anybody in favor of it."

Frye said that the opposition was primarily about the flooding, although there are also concerns with the loss of ecosystem.

"Anybody who lives along the canal is worried about it," he said. "And anything that can make (flooding) worse is a no-go for them." 

If Walcek gets approval from DNREC, he will then need to get approval from the Army Corps of Engineers and final approval from the town of Bethany Beach.

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