Magnolia subdivision plan gets new life, amid traffic concerns
MAGNOLIA — Investors Realty Inc. has revived plans to develop nearly 99 acres of farmland 8 miles south of Dover into a 258 single-family subdivision, according to plans submitted to Kent County.
Andy Strine, president of Investors Realty, is seeking to build Hatteras Hills, an age-restricted community complete with a clubhouse, about 1.5 miles outside the small town of Magnolia.
It would be among the latest housing developments in Delaware’s smallest county, targeting older homeowners looking for a place with a close drive to the beach. Pending the permitting process, the project should break ground in 2021.
“It’s minutes from Dover, and it’s about 45 minutes from Lewes. For people who are coming from surrounding states with high taxes, Delaware might look like an ideal option,” Strine told Delaware Business Times. “It’s a nice location with access to Route 1, and that location is certainly in demand right now.”
But not everyone is happy about the prospects of new housing.
Magnolia Mayor James Frazier testified against the project before the county Regional Planning Commission in early June, noting that traffic from the subdivision could be a detriment to the town with 225 residents.
“Our roads are hellacious in this town and this is going to absolutely make them worse,” Frazier said during the public hearing on June 4.
Houses would be priced between the upper $200,000s to mid $300,000s. Plans filed with the Kent County Regional Planning Commission include 5 acres of active open space and a clubhouse that could feature amenities like a pool and fitness center.
Previous plans to develop the Hatteras Hills parcel over the years through different developers have fallen through. In 2011, Investors Reality bought the land through its limited liability corporation, Canterbury Land Development, for $809,060.
Investors Reality has developed homes in Dover and Lewes ranging from waterfront resort properties to age-restricted properties since 1974. Right now, the company is focused on single-family subdivisions Satterfield and Lynnwood Village Felton and higher-end Townsend Fields in Camden.
When Investors Reality bought Hatteras, Strine said the real estate market caused him to wait to develop it.
“We were developing another age-restricted community, Southern Meadow, when 2008 hit. In the end, it was a 10-year build-out,” he said.
Until the housing market crashed, Kent County saw a boom in housing developments, reaching 1,386 new units at its peak in 2005, according to the county’s 2018 comprehensive plan.
New developments have declined dramatically in the years since, with 637 new housing units counted in 2016. But developments have been climbing at a slow and steady pace in the last four years.
“When I first started doing this in 1986, all this land was farm country and communities have been coming up since that time,” Strine said. “At this point, we feel like the demand is there to meet new inventory.”
Hatteras Hills’ state Preliminary Land Use Service application estimates 1,160 trips in peak traffic. Under a traffic impact study, the developer will enter into an agreement with the Delaware Department of Transportation to fund improvements to Sopher’s Row and Clapham Road, if needed.
Mayor Frazier said many Magnolia residents raised concerns with yet another development surrounding the town would force them to endure thousands of cars on their two-lane roads, and potentially damaging the water line underneath it.
Frazier also testified in a letter that DelDOT’s 2018 average traffic count per day was 9,435 cars for North Main Street, which turns into Clapham Road.
By Katie Tabeling