Showfield project wins rapid approval

Planners OK Gills Neck Road community
August 12, 2014

After years of meetings with Lewes officials, a scaled-down version of the Showfield community passed Sussex County muster in a few weeks after just one public hearing.

With a unanimous vote at its Aug. 7 meeting, Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission granted preliminary approval to the Showfield subdivision near Lewes along Gills Neck Road.

Jack Lingo Asset Management – as Showfield LLC – has revamped plans for a cluster subdivision, paring down the plans by more than 350 units to 166 lots and reducing the size of the project by 90 acres. The proposed project is on 132 acres of unincorporated land just outside the City of Lewes' eastern border, adjacent to the Breakwater community and across Gills Neck Road from the Wolfe Pointe community.

A final site plan must be reviewed and approved by the commission before site work can begin.

The project has a history dating back almost 10 years, when it was first proposed before City of Lewes officials as a 607-unit community on 230 acres between Gills Neck Road and Freeman Highway, which would have included the annexation of a 139-acre parcel into city limits. About 90 acres of the original tract closest to the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal lies with city limits, but there are no current plans for development of that parcel.

Following more than 50 public meetings with various Lewes boards, committees, the planning commission and council, the developer changed jurisdictions and filed new plans with Sussex County.

The application states the original plan was tabled because of downward changes in the housing market and the time it would take to secure annexation and site-plan approval by Lewes officials.

Doug Motley, representing Lingo Asset Management, said the developer redesigned the project in 2012 to include 400 homes. But after talks with Lewes officials showed no progress, the plan was revamped again and presented to Sussex County officials.

Two existing barns on the parcel are expected to be renovated; one will become a clubhouse in conjunction with the community's pool, Motley said. The community will have interior trails, sidewalks and access to the Junction and Breakwater Trail. The developer has donated a 40-foot easement on the southern border of the property to the Delaware Department of Transportation to complete an extension of the trail linking Gills Neck Road and Freeman Highway.

Minimum lot size will be 13,000 square feet; 44 acres of open space are proposed. The plan includes a 20-foot wooded buffer around the perimeter of the community, a 50-foot buffer near a small section of wetlands and woods and a 50-foot buffer next to farmland.

Lots in the community will sell for $300,000 to $600,000 with custom-built homes ranging in price from $800,000 to $1.2 million.

Water will be provided by the Lewes Board of Public Works and sewer would be provided by Sussex County.

The developer will be required to improve parts of Gills Neck Road in front of the development to include two, 11-foot travel lanes, 5-foot shoulders and a 10-foot pathway. The two entrances to the community are planned along Gills Neck Road; one would line up with the entrance to Wolfe Pointe. A 15-foot right-of-way would be dedicated for a future multimodal path along the road.

Negotiations for possible off-site road improvements are ongoing between the developer and DelDOT. The developer may be required to fund a portion of intersection improvements – including a new traffic signal – at Kings Highway and Clay Road; intersection improvements at Kings Highway and Gills Neck Road; and improvements at the Kings Highway and Dartmouth Drive intersection including a possible single-lane roundabout and intersection widening.

The cost of improvements along Gills Neck Road and Kings Highway would be covered entirely by developers in the area. Among the first projects will be improvement to the Kings Highway-Gills Neck Road intersection – tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2015 – and softening of the sharp curve on Gills Neck Road near the Cadbury and Senators communities, which could take place this year.