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Canal Overlook Subdivision in Delaware to Feature 108 Large Homes, Lots of Trees

Wed January 04, 2023 - Northeast Edition #2
Delaware News Journal

The proposed Canal Overlook subdivision includes plans for 108 single-family homes on approximately 83 acres near the C&D Canal. (Map courtesy of McBride & Ziegler Engineering Firm)
The proposed Canal Overlook subdivision includes plans for 108 single-family homes on approximately 83 acres near the C&D Canal. (Map courtesy of McBride & Ziegler Engineering Firm)

A proposal has been put forth to build a subdivision of large homes along the Chesapeake & Delaware (C&D) Canal in Delaware, between the communities of St. Georges and Delaware City, with a path to the nearby Michael Castle Trail for biking and hiking.

Diamond Materials LLC, a Newport construction company, will build Canal Overlook to include 108 single-family homes on just over 83 acres on the south side of Cox Neck Road. The site is north of the canal near Southern Elementary School and Gunning Bedford Middle School in the Colonial School District.

Trevor Furr, a senior designer and project manager with Newark, Del.-based McBride & Ziegler, the engineering firm for the project, told the Delaware News Journal that although the Canal Overlook subdivision is in a rural setting, it is still only minutes from U.S. Highway 13 and Del. Route 1.

"Located approximately halfway between Christiana and Middletown, both are easily accessible for business, recreation and shopping," he added.

Much of the land along the C&D Canal is undeveloped federal property controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but the Canal Overlook land is not part of those federal holdings, the News Journal reported Jan. 3.

Stretching from Cox Neck Road to the Castle Trail along the canal, the property was formerly a borrow pit business where dirt was excavated for use elsewhere. Now, it is a mix of grass, weeds, brush and woods, along with about 2.7 acres of wetlands.

The Wilmington news source noted that the subdivision property is zoned suburban, while the surrounding land is zoned as a suburban reserve.

The developer's plan includes building a path for bicyclists and pedestrians along Cox Neck Road with connections through Canal Overlook to the Castle Trail. The subdivision is just east of the Biddle Point parking area along the trail.

Everyone Seems to Like Project

No one opposed the major land development plan at the New Castle County Planning Board's public hearing in November, according to the News Journal. Members of the board made suggestions about the landscaping including a request for trees on part of the open space where grasslands are planned.

The property's owners have set aside 46.13 acres of open space, approximately 55.5 percent, more than the county's requirement of 50 percent.

Gary Burcham, owner of Burcham & Associates, a landscape architectural firm in the county, told the Wilmington news outlet that trees and shrubs will be planted around the perimeter of the property as a buffer. He added the plan includes 38 trees along Cox Neck Road, 285 more along streets in the development, 238 in the open space, and one tree on each of the 108 building lots.

Of the total number of homesites in Canal Overlook, 64 will have a minimum size of 12,000 sq. ft, 27 will encompass at least 10,000 sq. ft., and 17 will be designed with an 8,000-sq.-ft. minimum.

In addition, two entrances are to be constructed on Cox Neck Road; a traffic impact study calls for a right-turn lane at each entry point. A pedestrian crosswalk and bus stop also are in the works on Cox Neck Road, the News Journal learned.

The New Castle County planning board will make a recommendation on the major land development plan and then the council could vote on the project later this month. If approved, the next steps include the site and engineering plans, and working with the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) on the road designs.

If those proposals get the green light, construction is likely to start either this fall or spring 2024.

New Castle County Councilman Bill Bell represents the 12th District where the subdivision is proposed. He told the Wilmington news source that he has not received any negative comments from his constituents about the Canal Overlook project.

"I spoke with a few people from the area, and they were complimentary because of the open space and the willingness to connect with the Mike Castle Trail," he said. "The applicant is going to provide more than 50 percent open space, which is good, and [have] walking and biking access to the trail. I see both of those as real positives for the community."

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