With a unanimous Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission recommendation to approve two applications that would pave the way for the Village Center Cottages, Sussex County Council heard plans June 27 for the project near the Kings Highway-Gills Neck Road intersection just outside Lewes city limits.
Developer Jack Lingo Asset Management has filed applications to rezone the 25.5-acre parcel from AR-1, agricultural-residential, to MR, medium-density residential, and a conditional use for 102 cottage-style multifamily units.
Following the public hearing, council voted 5-0 to defer action to a future meeting.
Part of master plan
Speaking on behalf of developer and property owner J.G. Townsend Jr. and Co., attorney David Hutt said the community is part of a master plan that includes projects along Gills Neck Road by the same property owner, including the cottages, Village Center shopping complex, Governors, Senators, Hawkseye, Wolfe Pointe and Wolf Runne.
He said because of one owner, plans are to share infrastructure, including stormwater ponds and streets for interconnectivity.
“The same ownership has crafted this development over time. This is the last piece of in-fill and is an appropriate transition from commercial to the other homes on Gills Neck Road,” Hutt said.
Hutt said the parcel is designated as a coastal area, one of seven growth areas on the county’s comprehensive plan future land-use map. It’s also designated as Level 1 by state planners, which is where growth is anticipated to occur.
Plans for community
Plans for the project include one-, two- and three-bedroom, coastal-style cottages in pocket neighborhoods, with rear parking areas, linked by sidewalks and paths to a pool and clubhouse, and the commercial Village Center. The cottages would range in size from 1,000 to 1,500 square feet. Other open-space amenities would include courtyards, green areas and pocket parks. Two parking spaces would be available for each cottage, with 240 total spaces.
Density of the proposed community would be 3.99 units per acre.
While a typical buffer is not planned for a common area between Village Center and Governors, some landscaping would be provided in the area of two stormwater ponds between the two projects.
“These are not duplexes, townhouses or apartments, but a new, fresh approach to the multifamily option,” Hutt said. “They will be individual units that will be very unique to this area of Sussex County.”
Residents request a gate
Plans include a street, to be called Stockley Boulevard, along the border of the property, linking Village Center, the cottages, and the residential communities of Governors and Senators with an improved intersection at Clay Road and Kings Highway.
Several residents of the Governors community, which is adjacent to the proposed cottages, testified in opposition to the applications during council’s public hearing.
They were specifically opposed to the plan for Stockley Boulevard as a through street.
There is already connectivity between Governors and Senators, but the street is currently blocked off because of construction.
Michael Wolf, speaking on behalf of the Governors Condominium Association executive board, said the association is opposed to the applications.
He said the board is requesting council change the interconnectivity condition to allow for a gate for emergency vehicles, and pedestrian and bicycles access only, not through traffic.
“Our primary concern is the safety of the community,” he said. “Interconnectivity will allow nonresidents using the road as a way to cut through.”
He said the community’s pool and playground are located along the street. “There are bikes and scooters on that road,” Wolf said. “We are asking council to consider the safety of our residents, children and our families.”
Wolf said the board sent a letter to planning & zoning commissioners outlining their concerns that, he said, were not addressed by the commissioners.
Councilman Mark Schaeffer asked Hutt if the developer would consider a safety emergency gate between the Governors community and the cottages.
“There is a concern about interconnectivity and using it as a shortcut for traffic from Kings Highway,” he said.
Hutt said the developer would not support a gate along the street.
He said all documents and site plans include a disclosure showing Stockley Boulevard as a connecting road. “Planning & zoning strongly recommended interconnectivity,” he added.
“The council can require a gate as a condition, but the developer’s position is that it’s not prudent land use,” he said.
Residents also pointed out that the public would be using private roads in the community and be responsible for maintenance.
One resident suggested that speed bumps be placed on section of road in Governors if interconnectivity is required.
Laura Wolf asked why interconnectivity was not required between the Wolfe Runne and Hawkeye communities, which are part of the master plan for Gills Neck Road.
Schaeffer also asked questions about how the shopping center would be screened from the proposed cottages.
Nick Hammonds, a principal with Jack Lingo Asset Management, said there would be landscaping between the two areas. He said the architectural plan for the Village Center is not fully developed but that any screening between the shopping area and cottages would be extraordinarily attractive. “The Village Center and cottages will be like nothing built in this area,” he added.