Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins construction on track in north Dover

DOVER — Dover City Council voted Monday night to keep the ball rolling toward construction of a combined Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins eatery at 2920 N. DuPont Highway.

The new store will be sandwiched between a Wawa convenience store and Lumber Liquidators off the highway in north Dover.

Council voted unanimously to adopt an annexation of the property and a rezoning of the site to C-4 (Highway Commercial Zone — city of Dover classification) from what had been BG (General Business Zone — Kent County classification) to help the business move forward in its construction process.

The city’s planning department said the C-4 zoning is consistent with development in the area and with the land use designation of “commercial.”

City Planner Dave Hugg said a couple of challenges exist for the Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins project to move forward.
While the site off the east side of U.S. 13 does receive electricity from the city of Dover, water and sanitary sewer are not served by the city at the site of the new business. Currently, the property is served by an on-site well and septic system. Water and sanitary sewer are only available on the opposite side of U.S. 13.

“It is a parcel of property on the east side of U.S. 13, kind of at the north edge of Dover, currently in (Kent) County,” Mr. Hugg said. “It’s a bit unusual that property’s being developed in Kent County, but ultimately being annexed into the city in order to have access to one or more city services.
“In order to expediate and facilitate their redevelopment of this old commercial property, we and the county agreed that it made more sense to go ahead and do the development.”

The developer, NewWind Properties, said that it understands that it will have to eventually obtain Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT)/city of Dover approval to connect the sanitary sewer on the opposite side of U.S. 13.
That issue is critical as utility crossings of U.S. 13 are strongly discouraged by DelDOT and only approved with special approval by District Public Works.

Mr. Hugg said he is confident all the issues will be ironed out.
“The unusual circumstances in that we are asking the council to approve both of these ordinances to be effective when the final building permit from the county is issued, at which time they can make the application for the addition to city sewer service and then additionally city water service,” he said.

“Both utilities are a limiting factor and they are on the west side of the highway. There are plans in effect to bring the sewer system to them initially and with DNREC’s (Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s) approval and the city and Levy Court’s approval, to allow (the business) to continue to use the on-site well until such time as that well is either at capacity or for whatever reason not usable, at which time they would need to bring water to the property.”

At the time when the existing well fails, the business will be required to connect to the city’s water distribution system across the highway.
The property owner will be held responsible for the costs associated with tapping the sanitary sewer and/or water mains, extending services to the property, payment of impact fees and obtaining permits.

The building where the new Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins is currently being completely refurbished was most recently used as an office for a title loan company adjacent to Maxwell Street in the DuPont Manor development. However, it has been vacant for several months.

The area where the new business will be located is dominated by highway commercial development.
The city’s planning department said the Comprehensive Land Development Plan proposes to continue U.S. Route 13/113 as the major commercial corridor in central Delaware and that few vacant developable parcels exist within this area.

However, the potential exists for the redevelopment of older retail stores and strip shopping centers – such as the course that Duncan Donuts/Baskin Robbins is taking.
The Comprehensive Plan encourages the renovation and adaptive reuse of older structures within the highway corridor as a means of restoring property value, preventing blight and demolition by neglect, and enhancing the overall image of the highway environment.

Mr. Hugg said city council’s annexation/rezoning vote on Monday night will help the Duncan Donuts/Baskin Robbins project move forward.
“It is our expectation that this is the second property along that stretch or in the general area that is annexed,” Mr. Hugg said. “Public Works has worked diligently with (the developers) in terms of their access to the utilities and Kent County has been very supportive on the permit side.

“The agreement of annexation anticipates that until they’re annexed they won’t be able to get the city services, but once their building permit is completed and they’re able to satisfy that requirement, then the annexation and subsequent rezoning under these proposals would take effect.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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