State: No objections to Route 24 retail center

Developer has plans for 695,000 square feet of commercial space on 73.5-acre parcel
May 24, 2024

State planners have no objection to the proposed Atlantic Fields retail center along Route 24 and Mulberry Knoll Road near Lewes.

During a May 22 Preliminary Land Use Service review of the project, Office of State Planning Coordination Sussex County circuit rider Dorothy Morris said the 73.5-acre parcel is included in the state’s Level 2 strategies for state policies and spending. She said Level 2 areas are where development is anticipated.

Morris said the state has no objections as long as developer Mulberry Knoll Associates LLC meets Sussex County codes and regulations.

The developer has plans to construct a 695,000-square-foot retail center on a 73.5-acre parcel along Route 24 and Mulberry Knoll Road near Beacon Middle School and Love Creek Elementary. The property, owned by J.G. Townsend Jr. of Georgetown, is currently farmland with no woods.

According to the PLUS application, at buildout, the project would generate 13,135 vehicle trips on an average weekday.

The conceptual site plan includes 14 buildings of varying sizes from 172,500 square feet to 1,000 square feet. The plans include a 147,000-square-foot, two 55,000-square-foot and two 40,000-square-foot buildings, and more than 3,000 parking spaces.

The proposed entrance would be along Route 24 with a new traffic signal.

A rezoning would be required from AR-1, agricultural-residential, to C-4, planned commercial district.

The parcel is included in the county’s Henlopen Transportation Improvement District. The developer would be required to contribute from $2.88 to $4.88 per square foot of commercial space for future road work in the district.

The PLUS review

During the PLUS review, DelDOT’s Steve Bayer said the department received a draft traffic-impact study from the developer and is working toward a final report.

DART’s Bill Williamson said the agency is looking at placing four bus stops on the two roads.

Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Beth Kromine said the plans she has show a gas station on the southeast portion of the site. “There are wellhead protection zone issues and stormwater management issues,” she said. “There should not be stormwater infiltration or a gas station on top of a wellhead protection area. We are concerned about the impact.”

She said the developer would have to work with Sussex County staff to follow wellhead protection zone regulations, including a 100-foot safe zone.

Duane Fox of the State Fire Marshal’s Office said sprinklers would be required in almost every building on the plan.

Sussex County planner Mike Lowery said the plans show parking in the front-yard setback, which is discouraged by the county. The planning & zoning commission can waive that requirement.

He said interconnectivity could be possible with the Plantation Medical Center planned for construction along Plantation Road.

He said a detailed site plan would be required at time of application.

Morris said agencies will have written comments to the developer on or before June 21. After that, public hearings for a rezoning can be scheduled.


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