January 18, 2002
Long-time readers may remember this column’s 8-part series, sometimes called Golf Course Construction 101, that told the story of the development, design, and construction of The Rookery, near Milton. The owners of the now-popular public-access layout faced a wide range of challenges, including environmental problems, design challenges on the relatively small 138-acre parcel, and bad weather.
On the other hand, The Rookery owners benefited from the fact that it was only a golf course project. Pete Oakley and Chris Adkins weren’t also trying to find ways to sell several hundred home sites at the same time.
This column starts a new series on golf course development in the Cape Region. This time, I’ll look at what it takes to design, build, and complete a golf project that also includes other land uses, such as residential real estate.
The Cape Region already features several of these developments, such as Kings Creek Country Club, Rehoboth Beach Yacht and Country Club Estates, and Baywood Greens. As the area continues to attract more year-round residents, similar projects are wending their way through the governmental approval process. Some of these new proposals are sure to raise eyebrows, and not only because of their sheer scale.
Those who don’t normally follow real estate developments from start to finish may not realize the long lead-time that these projects can require before the first dig of the shovel. For example, the developers of the Stonewater Creek project near Cool Spring have been busy for well over 15 months, and they haven’t even filed a preliminary plan with Sussex County.
Stonewater would occupy about 280 acres of land in the triangle formed by Fisher Road, Beaver Dam Road, and Hopkins Road. As discussed in an October 2000 meeting with Department of Transportation officials, the project would include an 18-hole golf course, 180 single-family detached houses, 100 townhouses, and 80 duplexes (360 homes). The developer’s representatives predicted that the project would be completely built by 2005. In order to move forward, however, the property would need to be rezoned from AR-1 (Agricultural Residential) to AR-1-RPC (Agricultural Residential—Residential Planned Community overlay).
Prior to acting on any rezoning request, county ordinances and state laws require developers to conduct a detailed analysis of the potential impacts of their proposal on the surrounding area.
Lewes Golf, L.L.C., the developers of the Stonewater project, hired Davis, Bowen & Friedel, Inc. (“DBF”), a Milford engineering firm, to work on one of the most difficult parts of the impact analysis—what would the project do to traffic in the area?
Dawn Riggi was the DBF engineer assigned to work on Stonewater’s Traffic Impact Study (TIS). She knew from the beginning that this project would need a complex traffic study, not only because of its size, but also because of its location.
The Department of Transportation (DelDOT) reviews the traffic impact study results, and passes on its comments to Sussex County. The state’s recommendations are not binding on the county, but the council must take into consideration the state’s position when the councilmen make the ultimate land use decision.
As it turned out, the DelDOT engineer assigned to review the Stonewater TIS happens to know a bit about the Cape Region. Dennis “D.J.” Hughes is a project engineer for DelDOT, and a 1994 Cape Henlopen High School graduate.
The former Milton resident completed his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Delaware in 1999, and began working for DelDOT. Cape Region sports fans may remember his years on the Cape football team. Hughes also played for three years for the Blue Hens.
Hughes and Riggi met in October 2000, together with several others, to define the scope of the traffic study.
As it turned out, the golf course part of the project would be the least of the developer’s difficulties.
To be continued….