With a 4-1 vote at its April 22 meeting, Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission granted preliminary approval to plans for a subdivision along Mulberry Knoll Road south of Route 24 between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.
Developer MKR Land Investment LLC has plans for Scenic Manor, a 319-single-family-lot standard subdivision, on 166.8 acres on both sides of Mulberry Knoll Road, with 258 lots in the eastern section and 61 lots in the western section.
The parcel is a mix of farmland, woods and wetlands, and is bordered on the west by Dorman Branch and on the east by Arnell Creek. It contains 20 acres of tidal wetlands and 5 acres of non-tidal wetlands.
The approval did not take into consideration nearby residents' concerns that the project be scaled back to protect wetlands and wildlife habitat in the area. However, the commission did adopt the residents' recommendation that no building permits be issued until a new traffic signal is installed at the Mulberry Knoll-Route 24 intersection.
A new signal is planned as part of ongoing work to improve intersections and widen Route 24 from Route 1 to Mulberry Knoll Road.
Commissioner Bruce Mears said he was concerned that the pool and clubhouse would be in the eastern section of the community, forcing residents living in the western section to cross Mulberry Knoll Road to access the amenities.
In that regard, as a condition of approval, the developer must coordinate with Delaware Department of Transportation officials to provide a safe crossing between the two sections of the subdivision, and the crossing must be depicted on the final site plan.
Commissioner Kim Hoey Stevenson voted against the application because of the location of the amenities.
Other conditions include central water and sewer service, a minimum 20-foot vegetated or forested buffer around the perimeter of the property using existing vegetation as much as possible, a minimum 50-foot buffer along all tidal wetlands, sidewalks on both sides of all streets with connection to a multimodal path on Mulberry Knoll Road, and housing construction limited to the least environmentally sensitive areas.
Construction hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Amenities include a pool, clubhouse, pocket parks and two playgrounds. A kayak/canoe launch area is also included in the plans, which will require a Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control permit.
Amenities must be completed by the issuance of the 140th building permit.
In addition, a final archaeological report of a survey of the property must be submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office.
A revised plan noting the conditions must be presented to the county planning and zoning office, and the final site plan will be subject to review and approval by the planning and zoning commission.