Fisher’s Cove resurfaces in Lewes

Public hearing on revised plan set July 13
June 25, 2021

The developer of the proposed Fisher’s Cove major subdivision has submitted a revised plan to Lewes officials 15 months after mayor and city council remanded the plan back to the planning commission for more information.

Burke and Rutecki LLC is planning to build 18 single-family homes on an 11-acre parcel off Rodney Avenue. The property is bordered on one side by a finger of the Great Marsh and on another side by the University of Delaware. The only available access to the property is via Rodney Avenue.

The developer’s attorney and engineers briefly provided an overview of the changes to the planning commission June 16. A virtual public hearing is set for 6 p.m., Tuesday, July 13.

The original application was submitted in 2018. A three-month-long public hearing was held in summer 2019 before the planning commission recommended denial of preliminary consent in November 2019. After initially deferring action, mayor and city council decided in April 2020 that more information was needed before making a decision and remanded the application back to planning commission for further consideration. The developer has been working for the last 15 months to gather more information and make revisions to the plan in response to concerns from the public and city staff.

There were several areas mayor and city council wanted addressed before considering preliminary consent. The first was better clarification on the planned stormwater management system. The developer’s team did that and achieved full approval from Sussex Conservation District, which doesn’t usually happen until final plans are submitted.

The plan includes two wet ponds and a dry pond. The wet ponds retain stormwater runoff for 48 hours and slowly release it over time. The dry pond, to be built above the water table, provides additional flood storage.

The revised plan includes swales behind four of the five homes that border Rodney Avenue residences. The swales include storm drains, inlets and bigger pipes to take water away from Rodney residents’ properties.

Council requested that the developer work with consultant AECOM to evaluate how the community would fare during certain flood events.

“We gave them our CAD files and they imported them into their flood model,” said Jeff Bross, engineer with Duffield Associates. “We worked with them to improve our design to minimize any flooding impact throughout a number of surge options. It was very helpful, and we appreciate the help from AECOM.”

The impact of a new development on the Rodney Avenue roadway also needed work. The current roadway is only 18 feet wide and does not meet city code requirements. Bross is recommending the street be widened to 24 feet.

“The goal was to provide safe access but also minimize impact to residents on Rodney,” he said, noting stormwater drainage included in the street plan would help Rodney residents.

The street plan received approval from the Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Another area of concern was the topography of the plan, specifically use of fill. Attorney Tim Willard of Fuqua, Willard, Stevens and Schab says the plan will include some fill, but it will be a net zero when all is said and done.

Other changes to the plan include narrower widths for 10 sites along the UD side of the property. By reducing the widths from 87 feet to 75 or 76 feet, the plan can accommodate a second wet pond, Willard said.

A dead-end street called Jack’s Way is now shorter as a result of the smaller lots and new pond; however, it is still longer than the 200-foot maximum allowed by code. The developer will seek a waiver for the 225-foot street.

The street that surrounds the dry pond has been widened from 22 feet to 24 feet to meet city code. The developer has removed a sidewalk planned on the dry pond side of the loop to meet recommendations for reducing impervious surfaces. A waiver will be sought to allow for that section to be without sidewalks.

The developer will have an opportunity to present further information at the beginning of the July 13 public hearing. City Solicitor Glenn Mandalas said the hearing will likely focus on the areas of concern expressed by mayor and city council, but the public is permitted to discuss any part of the plan.

While there is no procedure set forth in city code for remanded items, Planning Commission Chair Drew McKay said he intends to follow preliminary consent procedure and have an official recommendation from the commission within 90 days of the hearing.

All plans, documents and public comments received regarding the project over the last few years are available at A link to the public hearing will be available on the agenda one week prior.

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