State opposes map amendment for Freeman project

Developer's attorney is denied chance to speak during state-agency review of request
December 21, 2021

Story Location:
Cool Spring Road
Lewes-Georgetown Highway
Lewes, DE 19958
United States

An amendment will be required to the Sussex County future land-use map for a Carl M. Freeman Companies planned mixed-use, 796-acre community west of Lewes along Route 9.

Currently, 637 acres of the parcel are designated on the map as low density, where development is limited to housing at two units per acre. The developer is requesting an amendment to change the designation to coastal area, where higher-density development is permitted, up to 12 units per acre.

The request was reviewed Dec. 15 by state agencies during the monthly Office of State Planning Coordination’s Preliminary Land Use Service meeting.

During the meeting, Jim Fuqua, the developer's attorney, was not permitted to speak on behalf of his client.

Dorothy Morris, Sussex County planner at the Office of State Planning Coordination, told Fuqua that Sussex County was the applicant requesting the change to the future land-use map. And during PLUS meetings, only the applicant's team is permitted to speak; no public comment is accepted.

“We have not allowed others to speak. You are part of the public at this point,” Morris said. “We are looking at the process, and it may change in the future.”

“The county is the pass-through. We are the real party of interest,” Fuqua said. “This defeats the whole purpose of this meeting when all of the information can't be presented. It's unfair to the applicant.”

Morris said the attorney and public would have an opportunity to speak during county public hearings where the final decision is made.

Freeman has plans to develop the Cool Spring community, which encompasses land on both sides of Log Cabin Hill Road and Cool Spring Road, and the east side of Hudson Road.

Included in the preliminary plans are 2,000 residential units, 77,100 square feet of commercial space, and 86,000 square feet of mixed residential and commercial space.

A conceptual plan, filed with state planners, includes a 60,000-square-foot YMCA, 40,000-square-foot grocery store, 12,000-square-foot clubhouse, and 14,000-square-foot hotel with another 37,100 square feet of mixed residential and office space. Apartments, rentals, townhomes, single-family homes, duplexes and villas are planned.

Morris said the state is opposed to the project and is also opposed to the land-use map change. “This could have serious negative impacts on the goals and objectives of the county's comprehensive plan,” she said, adding the change would open up a large number of options for zoning of the parcels.

She said DelDOT staff and consultants are in the process of conducting a Coastal Corridors Study, which includes the Route 9 corridor.

“It's inappropriate to apply before this study is complete,” she said.

Morris said state planners are willing to work with the county and the property owner to to determine the impacts on the Route 9 corridor.

State agency comments on the application would be available to the county, applicant and public on or before Friday, Jan. 14. The amendment request will be subject to future public hearings before Sussex County Council and the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission.


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