State agencies review Cool Spring Crossing

Freeman community along Route 9 includes mixed residential units and commercial
December 22, 2023

State agencies had a chance to comment about the proposed 637-acre Cool Spring Crossing mixed-use, master planned community, west of Lewes during the Dec. 20 Office of State Planning Coordination Preliminary Land Use Service meeting.

Jim Fuqua, an attorney representing developer Freeman Companies, offered an overview of the project, followed by comments from several state agencies. The developer will receive all state agency comments on or before Jan. 22.

The project has gone through several revisions and three PLUS meetings over the past three years.

Because the property is designated as low density by Sussex County, an application will be required to amend the future land-use map to a coastal area where higher-density housing is permitted.

The project will require not only a future land-use map amendment, but also a rezoning from AR-1, agricultural-residential, to MR-RPC, medium-density residential planned community, and conditional uses for multifamily housing and an assisted-living facility.

The revised plan includes 1,922 residential units, including 584 single-family home units, 432 multifamily units and 906 duplex/townhomes, with 174 affordable apartments as part of the Sussex County Rental Program, which provides units below market rates based on income.

Of the 411,000 square feet of commercial area, 246,500 are planned for a new YMCA, an education facility and an assisted-living facility with medical offices.

The remaining 165,475 square feet of commercial would contain a grocery store, restaurants, retail stores, a hotel and theater.

At build out, the community would generate more than 30,000 average daily vehicle trips.

The project would be built in phases over the next 15 to 20 years.

Fuqua said the preliminary site plan includes 104 acres of undisturbed woodlands of the total of 208 acres of forest, and 295 acres of open space.

Based on a previous PLUS review, Fuqua said no homes would be built near almost 30 acres of wetlands, and the area would be preserved with an average 165-foot buffer. Also, no houses would be built in a flood hazard area, with 130-foot buffers provided.

DNREC's Beth Krumine said the department has concerns on environmental impacts should the project move forward as planned. Although, as Fuqua pointed out, many of her comments were based on the previous plan without the proposed changes.

She recommended that all of the woods on the parcel be preserved because of the potential impact on wildlife.

State officials noted that there is at least one cemetery and one known archaeological site known as the Cool Spring site on the property, with other sites and buried structures possible. The state recommended that an archaeological survey be conducted. A phase one study has been completed.

Other recommendations include two sheltered bus stops along Route 9.

All plans are preliminary and subject to change prior to scheduling of public hearings before the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission and Sussex County Council. 

The state planning office cannot make land-use decisions, but it can provide recommendations.

Road improvements

The property borders Route 9 as well Log Cabin, Hudson, Sweetbriar, Cool Spring and Josephs roads. All of the roads along the frontage of the property would have to be improved. Standard DelDOT requirements include wider lanes and shoulders.

The developer would be required to improve Route 9, Hudson Road and Log Cabin Hill Road along the frontage of the property. Plans include the removal of the existing Log Cabin Hill Road-Hudson Road intersection into the community.

The Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail borders the property along its frontage on Route 9.

Sussex County planner Mike Lowrey said county officials recommend that interconnectivity be provided to other properties, including an emergency access in the area of Log Cabin Hill Road and Hudson Road.

The developer would also be required to contribute funding for the Minos Conaway-Route 1 and Cave Neck Road-Route 1 interchange projects, and enter into several traffic signal justification agreements with DelDOT for intersections, including Route 9 with Fisher and Hudson roads, Route 9 and Cool Spring Road, and Route 9 and Route 5.

Access roads include Route 9, Cool Spring Road, Josephs Road, Log Cabin Hill Road and the Hudson-Walker roads roundabout.

One-lane roundabouts would be required at the following: Hudson and Walker roads, and Hudson Road and Carpenter Road with realignment of Log Cabin Road to intersect with Hudson Road.

Total road improvement work is estimated to cost from $16 million to $17 million.

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