Miralon subdivision proposed along Cool Spring Road

Sussex P&Z Commissioner Kim Hoey Stevenson expresses concerns over project’s entrance
January 20, 2022

Story Location:
Cool Spring Road
Fisher Road
Lewes, DE 19958
United States

Sussex County Planning and Zoning Vice Chair Kim Hoey Stevenson expressed strong concerns during a Jan. 13 meeting regarding the proposed Miralon subdivision along Cool Spring Road near Lewes.

“I don't see any way I can support this. The entrance is on a blind curve, and no matter what they do, I cannot in good conscience put people's lives at risk like that,” she said.

Commissioner Bruce Mears said the Delaware Department of Transportation is responsible for a plan to create a safe access point to the development.

“We can say that all we want, but when someone gets killed out there, I'm the one who said it’s OK,” Hoey Stevenson replied. “People trust us that when we say it's OK, it's really OK.”

She added that she narrowly avoided a crash on the curve when she went out to look at the property. “And I was driving there without the development,” she said.

The developer would be required to improve the road frontage along the property with 11-foot travel lanes and 5-foot shoulders with turn lanes into the subdivision. Off-site road improvements could also be required by DelDOT once a site plan is finalized.

Following the public hearing, the commission voted to defer a vote to a future meeting.

Plans for Miralon

Mackenzie Peet, the attorney for applicant Schell Brothers LLC, presented plans during the meeting for the proposed 119-lot subdivision on 72 acres along Cool Spring Road, about one mile south of Fisher Road.

Peet told the commission the subdivision would have 36 acres of open space with 33 of those acres being contiguous. Plans include a pool, bathhouse and sidewalks on one side of all streets with trail access to a multimodal path on the roadway along the frontage of the property. Central water and sewer would be provided by Artesian Water Co.

Building lots would be at least 50 feet from the property's boundary. Peet said although the cluster subdivision requires 7,500-square-foot lots, the development's lots will average 10,500 square feet.

A 30-foot landscaped buffer would be provided around the perimeter of the property.

She said the cluster subdivision is a permitted use in AR-1 agricultural-residential zoning districts in the county.

Peet said the development would have little to no adverse impact on schools, public buildings and the community.

Stevenson asked how it was determined that the proposed subdivision would not impact area schools.

Peet responded that most people coming to the area and buying new homes are retirees.

“You cannot say that anymore,” Hoey Stevenson said. “There are 1,000 more students at Cape Henlopen School District this year.”

The developer was not required to conduct a transportation-impact study but was required to contribute $13,960 to the DelDOT area-wide study fund based on $10 per total daily traffic estimates at 1,396 trips per day.

Concern with removal of trees

The parcel is entirely wooded. Plans include the removal of approximately 67 acres of woods to make way for construction within the proposed development.

“We will try to save more trees than shown on the preliminary plan,” said Jason Palkewicz of Solutions IPEM, the applicant's engineer. He said without a final site plan, it's unknown how many trees will be removed. He referred to the 67 acres as a worst-case scenario.

During the Preliminary Land Use Service state agency review of the project, state environmental officials said the parcel is part of the Delaware Ecological Network with an old-growth forest dating back to around 1937.

Hoey Stevenson asked whether or not a forest assessment had been completed as suggested by the Delaware Department Natural Resources and Environmental Control in the Dec. 16, 2020 PLUS report.

In the report, DNREC's Beth Krumrine said the assessment should be conducted to determine if mature forest resources exist and to delineate their boundaries. The assessment should also include the identification of trees and forest-dependent wildlife. “If mature trees are found, these areas should be conserved to the maximum extent possible,” Krumrine wrote.

“An assessment is not anticipated at this time,” Palkewicz replied.

Speaking in opposition, Kevin and Kathy Landkrohn, who live across from the property on Cool Spring Road, said they fail to see how the development would not impact the surrounding community.

“We have a real concern about the removal of the forest,” Kathy said. “This will not only affect wildlife but also surrounding properties.”

Arlene Bell, another Cool Spring Road resident, said the wooded parcel supports much of the wildlife in the area. She said removing more than 90 percent of the forest is unacceptable.

Doug Romaine, a Cool Spring Road resident, asked about trees in the proposed landscaped buffer around the perimeter of the property.

Vince Robertson, assistant county attorney, said Sussex County regulations require that existing forest within a buffer must be retained.


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