Zwaanendael Farm project will require four applications

Developer has plans for housing and commercial along Kings Highway and Gills Neck Road
December 17, 2021

Story Location:
Kings Highway
Gills Neck Road
Lewes, DE 19958
United States

State agencies are reviewing a housing and commercial project proposed for 52 acres along Kings Highway and Gills Neck Road just outside Lewes city limits.

Zwaanendael Farm (also known as Mitchell Farm) would comprise 267 residential units – 114 duplexes and 153 townhouses – and 43,200 square feet of commercial space.

During the Dec. 15 Office of State Planning Coordination Preliminary Land Use Service meeting, the developer's engineer, Ring Larder of Davis, Bowen & Friedel, said four applications would need to be considered by Sussex County officials. Those include rezonings from AR-1, agricultural-residential, to MR, medium-density residential, a conditional use for multifamily housing plus subdivision applications for the residential portion, and a rezoning from AR-1 to C-2 commercial for the commercial portion.

Lardner said state agencies had reviewed a plan for the parcel in January 2019. “It's been on file with Sussex County and been on hold for quite some time,” he said. “The new developer of the project wanted to make changes to the land use.”

The previous plan included 201,000 square feet of commercial/office space and 120 housing units.

Lardner said a new traffic-impact study has been completed, and although the proposed new use would generate 50 percent less traffic, the developer would provide the same road improvements as recommended by Delaware Department of Transportation in the original application.

Lardner said the applicant would dedicate 100 feet of right-of-way land along Kings Highway to allow for the future widening project proposed for the road.

A shared-use path would be required along the Kings Highway frontage, and sidewalks would be required along the Gills Neck Road frontage. Larder said the applicant would meet with representatives from the Historic Lewes Byway to determine a streetscape plan for a shared-use path along Kings Highway.

Interconnection would be provided from the site to the adjacent parcel, which is the location of Big Oyster Brewery along Kings Highway.

DelDOT's Bill Brockenbrough said his office will update its traffic-impact study comments for the new plan.

Lardner said a 20-foot forested buffer is planned for the eastern and northern property lines, and amenities would include a pool, clubhouse, sports courts, dog park and sidewalks on both sides of all streets.

Carlton Hall of the Delaware State Historic Preservation Office said there is a high potential for historic archaeological resources on the parcel, and his office is requesting that an archaeological survey be completed.

Tom Panetta, representing Lewes Board of Public Works, said 15 to 20 percent of the parcel is located in a wellhead protection area for Lewes city wells. He said the BPW has concerns that the stormwater management pond is proposed in that area of the parcel.

He said it would be preferable to have a master plan for all development along Kings Highway which is across from the city wells near the Clay Road intersection. He noted that the county, BPW and City of Lewes had purchased the 35-acre Jones Farm at that intersection to protect the wellhead area.

Comments from state agencies will be available to the applicant, county and public on or before Friday, Jan. 14. The applications will have to be filed with Sussex County, and public hearings will be scheduled in the near future.

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