Developer New Road Ventures LLC is seeking to build nearly 300 units on 134 acres of the Groome United Methodist Church property on New Road outside Lewes.
The developer submitted a site plan to the state’s Preliminary Land Use Service for review at its Wednesday, May 23 meeting. PLUS is expected to discuss the application at 3:30 p.m.
According to the application, the developer will seek an AR-1 cluster subdivision within the environmentally sensitive area, and homes would be marketed as second homes or retirement homes. Following PLUS review, the application is expected to be submitted to Sussex County officials.
The developer plans to tie into Tidewater’s system for water and either Sussex County or the Lewes Board of Public Works for wastewater.
Of the existing 36 forested acres, the developer seeks to retain 23 acres. The plan also calls for 47 acres of open space. Nearly 10 acres of nontidal wetlands exist on the property, the application shows.
The developer anticipates the subdivision will generate 2,812 trips on an average weekday.
The application indicates historical or cultural resources are present on the property, and they are being evaluated by a private company. The developer notes it would not be open to a site evaluation by the State Historic Preservation Office nor would be willing to permit a state agency visit to review the parcel’s features.
The Groome Church property has been at the center of controversy since church officials announced their intentions to sell the property in September 2017. In the months since, a group of Lewes-area residents formed the group New Road Preservation Alliance to protect the New Road and Great Marsh corridor, including the Groome property.
State and local officials have also tried to convince church officials to change their minds. The state’s Open Space Council earmarked $1 million toward the purchase of a portion of the parcel, while the City of Lewes and Sussex County Council have each committed $500,000 to the purchase.
The Open Space Council’s funds expire at its July meeting, unless extended by council members.