Mitchell's Corner office gets preliminary approval

Sussex County P&Z allows for one row of parking in front setback along Kings Highway
September 29, 2023

At its Sept. 14 meeting, the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission approved the revised preliminary site plan for an office building as part of the Mitchell's Corner project near the intersection of Kings Highway and Gills Neck Road in Lewes. The approval includes a waiver to allow parking in the front setback.

Commissioner Greg Collins said he was not in favor of the waiver and asked if work could proceed without a parking waiver.

Assistant county attorney Vince Robertson said Delaware Department of Transportation officials have already required the developer to provide land in the right of way along Kings Highway. He said in addition to the original 20-foot dedication, because of Kings Highway widening, another 30 feet of right of way is required, as well as a 15-foot permanent easement for a total of 65 feet.

Because of the loss of land, developer Henlopen Properties LLC is requesting one row of parking in the front setback.

In a letter to the commission from attorney David Hutt, he wrote that typically when DelDOT widens a roadway, right of way is taken from both sides, but for the Kings Highway project, all widening is taking place on the eastern side, which is the location of Mitchell’s Corner, Cape Henlopen Medical Center and the future Village Center.

“The loss of this much of the property is why there is one row of parking proposed within the front-yard setback,” Hutt wrote.

Collins made a motion to deny the site plan based on the parking exception requested. There was no second.

The commission voted 4-1 to approve the preliminary site plan including the parking waiver, with the final site to be reviewed and approved by planning & zoning staff after the receipt of all agency approvals.

The revised plan

The revised preliminary site plan on a 3-acre parcel includes a three-story, 43,200-square-foot office building as part of an overall plan to develop a 44-acre parcel with 267 multifamily units and the commercial space. Access to the office building will be from Black Swan Drive off Gills Neck Road.

The developer will be required to complete road improvements and contribute funds to the Old Orchard and Savannah roads realignment project, and the Kings Highway dualization project from Dartmouth Drive to Freeman Highway.

The developer reduced the size of the commercial buildings to reduce traffic and has also agreed to provide interim improvements along Kings Highway to help ease traffic issues.

A $23 million DelDOT project to widen Kings Highway and improve intersections is scheduled to begin in 2026.

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