Royal Farms gets local approval to move its Dagsboro store

DAGSBORO — It’s official: Royal Farms has the conditional green light from the town of Dagsboro to proceed with its proposed south-to-north site relocation at DuPont Boulevard and Clayton Street.

By a 4-0 vote Monday night, Dagsboro town council cast approval with conditions to final site plans for the 5,326 square-foot convenience store on the northeast corner of US 113 and SR 26.

“One thing conditional approval allows us to do, and why we are here … it allows the building permit to move forward,” said Jonathan Street, an architect/engineer with Becker Morgan.

Royal Farms plans to repurpose its existing store at the southeast corner of the intersection as a retail-type, non-fueling station business, possibly for sale or lease, according to Mr. Street.

A vacant former medical building that stands at the new site will be removed, either demolished or possibly used as a controlled burn.
Royal Farms’ new location borders Savannah Square Shopping Center and Cea-Dag Court apartments development.
Plans for the new Royal Farms include seven doubled-sided gasoline fueling islands and a separate diesel fueling area with six pumps on the northern side of the site.

Final plans approved by council, which are contingent upon approval from all pertinent county and state agencies, include some noticeable improvements and changes from preliminary plans presented a year ago.
“The biggest difference between the two are the improvements on Clayton Street,” said Mr. Street. “That’s really the bulk of the change — Clayton Street improvements.”

In addition to the dedicated left turn lane at the in-and-out at Clayton Street, a dedicated right turn from westbound Clayton Street onto US 113 is included. That part of Clayton Street will be widened by 15 feet. Plans include is a designated bicycle lane and designated pedestrian crosswalks.

Council did have some concerns.
Councilman William Chandler III referred to the exit onto DuPont Boulevard near the diesel fueling area.
“Those trucks exiting from that northern-most exit, and they are exiting directly into 113. There isn’t going to be an acceleration lane, right?” Mr. Chandler asked.

“As not by my design,” said Mr. Street. “Not to point any fingers, but it has been a policy of the state; my understanding is that they have removed the acceleration lanes from their general practice.”
“Those are big trucks, and they take a while to get out there and get going,” Mr. Chandler said. “And you’ve got people flying through.”
“The speed has also been reduced,” said Mr. Street.
“In theory …,” said Mr. Chandler.

Last August, DelDOT finalized documents that lowered the US 113 speed limit in town limits from 55 mph to 45 mph.
The lower speed limit push — supported by the town and Dagsboro Police Chief Floyd Toomey — was precipitated in part by Becker Morgan in its plans for the Royal Farms relocation.

Mr. Chandler voiced concern on possible congestion problems between Clayton Street traffic entering northbound US 113 via the dedicated right turn and northbound traffic on US 113 decelerating to enter the proposed in-and-out entrance to Royal Farms.
Another concern hinged on eastbound Clayton Street traffic seeking to enter the Royal Farms store but having to cross several lanes of westbound traffic, which in Dagsboro at times can be extremely busy.

“That is the trouble with an uncontrolled, non-light intersection”, Mr. Street said. “Any time you’re going to make a left you are always going to be crossing traffic. You’re always going to have that problem.”
Plans are awaiting approval from DelDOT, Sussex Conservation District as well the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control regarding a tax ditch.
“The tax ditch issue is that they have to do a court order change for the easement. That is underway,” said Mr. Street.

In addition, sewer and water lines must be moved, along with two Delmarva Power & Light poles and Verizon lines.
“All of utilities and communications above ground and below ground all have to be moved. All of those have to be moved in concert with the widening of Clayton Street and the construction of the entrance itself.

“That won’t necessarily hold up the construction of the entrance but that will happen sometime within that six-month period,” said Mr. Street, noting DP&L must shut Clayton Street down and US 113 down when they move their lines. “It’s safety thing. All that work is going to be done at night.”

“Things kind of trigger other things,” Mr. Street said.
Mr. Street could not pinpoint a projected competition date, but estimated construction would probably take six to seven months.
“This one is a little more complicated. We’ve got all the utilities to move. That kind of drags it out a little bit,” said Mr. Street. “Once this gets going, they are going to knock it out. We expect within the next five or six weeks to be underway, at least with utilities.”

With closure of the existing store, fueling stations will be decommissioned, Mr. Street said, although the in-ground tanks may or may not be removed. The tanks can remain, in accordance with DNREC regulations, Mr. Street said.

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