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Tower Hill subdivision receives site-plan approval

Housing project to be developed on former Groome property along New Road near Lewes
September 1, 2020

Story Location:
New Road
Lynn Road
Lewes  Delaware  19958
United States

The Tower Hill subdivision along New Road near Lewes, formerly known as the Groome property, has received approval of its final site plan and landscaping plan.

At its Aug. 27 meeting, Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 3-0 to approve the site plans with some minor modifications.

The 134-acre, 292-single-family-lot subdivision was approved by the commission late in 2018. Under Sussex County code, a developer must have construction substantially underway within five years from the time the site plan is officially recorded.

Questions about hunting area

Included in the original conditions, the commission had required a 6-foot berm between the community and an area where active shooting occurs. Josh Mastrangelo of developer CMF Tower Hill LLC, based in Ocean View, notified the commission there are no longer any active shooting sites adjacent to the property.

Commissioner Kim Hoey Stevenson questioned the developer's statement. She said a sign is posted next to the property that it is a hunting preserve with active shooting. “I don't know where the developer got his information. Can someone address this?” she asked.

Attorney Jim Fuqua, representing the developer, said a sign is there. “My understanding is that hunting takes place on the rear of the property and the shooting range is in the rear,” he said.

He pointed out that the commission’s conditions state that a berm is not required in wetland areas and areas where archeological or historic artifacts have been found. Those areas are along the boundary of the Tower Hill property adjacent to the hunting area on the adjoining parcel.

Assistant county attorney Vince Robertson said the site plan includes a vegetated buffer along the property boundary, which includes red maple, willow oak and holly trees. “You have landscaping as a screen but not a berm,” he said.

Hoey Stevenson said she did not see a statement in the community's covenants alerting home buyers that the subdivision is adjacent to a hunting area.

Robertson said he was aware of that. “It needs to be in the conditions,” he said.

The commission agreed to approve the site plan with the landscape buffer taking the place of a berm and amending the covenants to inform residents they are moving in next to a shooting area.

Archaeological finds on parcel

The commission has also received an updated letter from archaeologist Edward Otter on the status of an archaeological survey underway on the property. He said a draft report should be completed around April 1, 2021.

In the letter, Otter said so far, 10 tons of soil have been screened revealing thousands of oyster and clam shells, pottery fragments and stone artifacts, which have been carbon dated from 1280 to 1580. Also recovered have been numerous animal bone fragments, nuts and seeds, and ceramic artifacts. Otter said identification and tabulation of the artifacts has not been completed.

“Please be aware, this is a large undertaking that is providing information about life during the late prehistoric period in lower Delaware,” Otter said. “This is information that can only be learned through archaeology.”

Required road improvements

Included on the site plan is an extensive list from Delaware Department of Transportation of road improvements the developer must construct.

DelDOT is requiring the developer to improve and widen New Road and Lynn Road with two 11-foot travel lanes and two 6-foot shoulders on New Road, and two 5-foot shoulders on Lynn Road. A 5-foot-wide bicycle/pedestrian lane is also part of the plan.

The main entrance to the community will be a one-lane roundabout at New Road and Lynn Road.

Under an agreement with DelDOT, the developer can contribute up to $750,000 to fund portions of the Old Orchard Road-Wescoats Road realignment project and the Minos Conaway-Route 1 intersection improvement project. The developer will have an option to construct off-site road improvements by widening New Road from Ashburn Lane and Schaffer Lane to the Tower Hill frontage with two 11-foot travel lanes and two 6-foot shoulders.

The landscaping plan, which includes a meandering bicycle trail/path along New Road, will comply with the master plan developed by the Historic Lewes Byway Committee. “The plan is to screen Tower Hill along the entire frontage on New Road and to enhance New Road as a scenic byway,” said Dan McGreevy of New Road Ventures LLC, the group responsible for providing and installing the landscaping.

The site plan includes 13 wet ponds and two dry basins as part of the parcel's stormwater management plan.

All state and county agency approvals have been submitted.

To view the site plan, go to tinyurl.com/y57acpba.

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