Joseph Setting says he plans to build 90 attached villas on New Road that will preserve the character of Lewes and nearly all of the natural features of the parcel.
The Wilmington-based developer presented his preliminary plan for Lewes Waterfront Preserve on the 34-acre Brittingham property at an informational meeting Nov. 26 at the Lewes Public Library. Setting, his engineer and attorney described the current iteration of the plan and answered questions from the public.
The property was approved for annexation by Lewes Mayor and City Council Nov. 13 and will soon go before the city’s planning commission to begin the subdivision approval process.
Ron Sutton, managing member of Civil Engineer Associates, said the plan includes 67 percent open space, when only 50 percent is required under the city’s annexation residential zoning. Residents were quick to point out, though, that much of the land considered open space is unbuildable, as it falls in Canary Creek, the marsh or in the flood plain.
Tom West, the city’s planning and development coordinator, said the public often misunderstands what’s buildable and what is not. Under current regulations, he said, the developer could build within the 100-year flood plain, but would be required to fill the area and possibly elevate structures. The tidal wetland areas are often considered unbuildable, he said, but federal law allows some encroachment for things such as roads when no other options exist.
Sutton said all units are planned for the high part of the property and little to no fill will be required. The homes will be about 6 feet above the 100-year flood elevation, he said.
Resident Debra Evalds asked Setting why he chose to build townhouses when that style of home does not fit in with the area.
“I feel like there would be a lot more goodwill from the community, a lot less opposition and a lot fewer questions if this was a village of freestanding homes that somehow reflected the character of the city of Lewes,” she said.
Setting said he believes the community does reflect Lewes.
“By clustering and doing attached villas, it preserves 67 percent of the land,” he said.
Most of the 18 buildings will have a view of Canary Creek, he said.
“I think in the end hopefully people will be happy,” Setting said.
Setting does not foresee the removal of any existing trees, and the plan calls for a 10-foot forested buffer with mature trees along New Road and a 30-foot landscaped buffer between the development and the homes to the southwest. Setting said there are no required buffers along New Road under Lewes code.
The Department of Transportation will require New Road to be widened in front of the development to include turn lanes. The developer is required to dedicate 25 additional feet of right of way as well as 15 feet for a shared-use path parallel to New Road along most of the property. The shared-use path will be part of a larger path planned for nearly the entire length of New Road. Setting is also willing to provide an easement to DelDOT to build a trail along the perimeter of the property to connect New Road to the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail.
With the dedicated right of way and shared-use path, Sutton said, it will be roughly 50 feet from New Road to the nearest lot line and 65 feet to the back of the nearest unit.
DelDOT will likely require the developer to contribute to the planned replacement of the Canary Creek bridge; however, that will not be determined until the project goes before the Preliminary Land Use Service. Sutton said the development will generate an estimated 587 average daily trips on New Road. Numbers are not yet available for the impact on New Road’s intersections with Old Orchard Road and Pilottown Road.
There are two other New Road traffic studies underway for the possible development of the Groome Church property just to the west of Brittingham and for DelDOT’s Minos Conaway/Nassau bridge road project.
The plan includes stubs for future connections to two neighboring properties.
As the project is still in the very early planning stages, Sutton said, there isn’t a detailed stormwater plan completed just yet.
“We have to do detailed calculations that show what’s leaving our site now as a farm field and what’s leaving our site after we build homes, plant grass, etc.,” he said. “We have to analyze all of that and show we are actually reducing what the pollutants are these days.”
Setting said the sales price of individual units is still unknown, but comparable townhouses in the Canary Creek development are going for $450,000.