Store, offices planned on Route 24

Project proposed on a 3.3-acre parcel at Mulberry Knoll Road intersection
April 26, 2022

Story Location:
Route 24
Mulberry Knoll Road
Lewes, DE 19958
United States

A developer has plans for a convenience store and office space on the southwest side of the Route 24-Mulberry Knoll Road intersection. Old houses and outbuildings are currently on the 3.3-acre parcel, which is adjacent to Beacon Middle School.

A site plan provided by developer V&M LLC of Rehoboth Beach includes a 5,000-square-foot convenience store with 10 fuel pumps and a three-story, 12,000-square-foot office building.

At an April 14 Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission meeting, the developer's attorney, Jim Fuqua, said the parcel is located in a Level 2 state strategies for spending area, where state officials promote growth, and in a commercial growth area on the Sussex County comprehensive plan future land-use map.

Fuqua said a conditional use was being requested instead of a commercial rezoning to allow commissioners to impose reasonable conditions on the application, which would not be possible with a commercial rezoning. A rezoning would include a wide variety of uses by right while with a conditional use, only the specific use is applicable, Fuqua said.

Road improvements at intersection

A right-in/right-out entrance is proposed along Route 24 and a full-access entrance is proposed along Mulberry Knoll Road. Major road and intersection improvements have been completed along Route 24 east of the parcel and similar improvements, including Route 24 widening from Mulberry Knoll Road to Love Creek and a new traffic signal at the Route 24-Mulberry Knoll Road intersection, are planned.

Fuqua said the developer and Delaware Department of Transportation officials reached an agreement to coordinate road improvements.

Although the parcel is within the Henlopen Transportation Improvement District, DelDOT staff determined the proposed commercial use of the property was not consistent with the TID and does not qualify for participation, which would have included a financial payment to DelDOT based on the commercial square footage. Instead, DelDOT officials required the developer to conduct a traffic-impact study and fund required road improvements at the intersection.

Traffic counts from 2019 show an average daily traffic of 19,793 vehicles along Route 24 and 517 vehicles along Mulberry Knoll Road.

DelDOT would require the developer to improve the road frontage along Mulberry Knoll Road with a southbound through lane and turn lane at the site access. The left-turn lane from Mulberry Knoll Road to Route 24 would be required to be lengthened 40 feet.

A DART bus stop would be provided along Route 24.

Fuqua said the proposed road improvements in the Route 24 corridor will accommodate the traffic impact in the area, which has experienced a major growth spurt over the past decade. Located in the area are Beacon Middle School, Love Creek Elementary School, Delaware State Police Troop 7, Four Seasons at Belle Terre subdivision and Scenic Manor, an approved subdivision.

According to the site plan, the convenience store would be in the front of the property set back 200 feet from Route 24.

The commission deferred a vote to a future meeting. Sussex County Council has scheduled a public hearing on the application at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 17, in the county administration building, 2 The Circle, Georgetown.

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