Officials reduce units over concern about density
By Ron MacArthur | Dec 21, 2015

Tulip Drive, off Route 1, will be a shared access entrance to the Reserves at Nassau, Phase 2.

With 13 fewer units than originally proposed, Sussex County Council approved two applications for a new housing project off Route 1 near the Nassau bridge.

At its Dec. 15 meeting, council voted for an ordinance to grant rezoning from AR-1 to MR and a conditional use for multifamily housing to Ocean Atlantic Communities LLC for Reserves at Nassau Phase 2 on a 37-acre parcel behind Dutch Acres and St. Jude the Apostle Church on Route 1, adjacent to the Villages of Five Points.

Council members were concerned that the project contained too many units and wanted to ensure no homes would be built near a wetland section known as Black Hog Gut. They reduced the overall units in the mixed-housing community from 147 units to 134 units.

“Black Hog Gut feeds the Great Swamp, and it's in good shape in that area. It's been destroyed upstream. Protection of this area is important,” said Councilman George Cole, R-Ocean View.

The community for seniors ages 55 and above will contain 43 single-family homes and a mix of 91 duplexes and townhomes.

Access to the community would be off Route 1 via Tulip Drive, an entrance shared by the church and the Dutch Acres and Villas of Taramino communities.

Proposed amenities include a pool, clubhouse, playground and trailhead for the proposed Georgetown-Lewes Rail and Trail, which would run along the northern border of the community. The developer would grant a 5-foot easement to add to the existing right-of-way for the proposed trail. A parking lot would also be provided. No sidewalks are proposed.

Under the proposed plan, the extension of Tulip Drive from Route 1 into the community would include a bridge over wetlands, which would require a federal permit.

Council voted 3-1 in favor of the rezoning application with Councilman Joan Deaver, R-Rehoboth Beach, casting the no vote. She said she had an issue with a brownfield on the parcel and access to the community poses a danger. “The property is full of problems,” she said.

Other council members commended the developer for cleaning up a former dump site and said the project was an infill matching other zoning in the area.

However, council voted 4-0 for the conditional-use application.

Developer agrees to more conditions
Cole also proposed 10 amendments to the conditions placed on the project by the county's planning and zoning commission, which council supported.

Among the changes, if approved by Delaware Department of Transportation officials, the developer will pay for a cul-de-sac at the south end of Tulip Drive to prohibit traffic from turning off Route 1 and using Tulip Drive for access to the new community.

In addition, if approved by DelDOT, the developer will pay $200,000 toward the cost of a fully-operational traffic signal at the northern end of the Tulip Drive intersection on Route 1. Currently, the signal is manually operated by a Delaware State Police trooper to assist with traffic control only during church services.

The developer would also fund stop signs at the intersection of Tulip Drive and the entrance to the new community.

In addition, a 20-foot forested buffer with trees and shrubbery is required along the border with Dutch Acres and no construction will be permitted on weekends. Cole said traffic congestion in the area is an issue and even more of an issue on weekends.

Sussex County's planning and zoning commission had recommended approval of the applications. The final site plan must be reviewed and approved by the commission.

Cleanup of dump site part of project
Included in the project is clean up of a former dump site on the property under the state's brownfield program.

Part of the site - known as Hudson Pit - was used for disposal of stumps and construction debris and also sand from a 1977 oil spill in Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach. As part of the state's brownfield program, the developer has been required to submit a 1,400-page remediation plan, which will be supervised by the state's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control staff.

The developer will be required to excavate and dispose of arsenic in the soil along the eastern border of the property; cap an area of subsurface oils in the northern section of the parcel under a paved parking area; excavate and dispose of remaining organic debris such as tree stumps; and provide a groundwater monitoring and site inspection schedule. In addition, the community must be served by a central water system with no individual wells.

The developer will be required to monitor groundwater at the site for four consecutive quarters to evaluate whether contamination is stable or is migrating off site.


This is the 37-acre parcel for the new Reserves at Nassau, Phase 2, age-restricted community near Lewes. (Source: Sussex County records)