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Dover City Council pushes back against commercial development in West Dover

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media
A vacant house currently lies on the property, but developers are eyeing the high visibility spot.

Another carwash in Dover? The city council says no, despite greater development in West Dover.


Residents in West Dover might recognize the intersection of Forrest Avenue and Mifflin Road, despite its small size, Mifflin Road is a major connector to Route 15. 


As more developers eye West Dover as a place for expansion of residential and commercial construction, the city council pushed back against one particular controversial request.


New developers are requesting to get one property on that intersection re-zoned to allow for greater commercial use. One suggestion has been a car wash, but a rezoning could open the site up to restaurants, retail stores and hotels.


Jonathan Street represents a property developer eyeing the Forrest Avenue and Mifflin Road intersection and suggested a car wash there.


Street says it’s only a matter of time before more commercial development is needed to meet the growing needs in West Dover.


“We are at the western end of the city,” Street said. “As the city grows west you’re gonna expect some of it’s services and infrastructure to grow west as well.”


Credit Roman Battaglia / Delaware Public Media
Delaware Public Media
The intersection of Forrest and Mifflin already sees traffic from students, commuters and those traveling from South to Northwest Dover

But neighbors and council members are concerned about the stress another commercial property would put on an already busy intersection.


One of the property's neighbors, Rose Harrison, says pedestrians and bicyclists already have trouble along Mifflin Road.


“Most of those businesses would be successful only with a high volume of customers,” Harrison said. “A high volume business would only add additional stress to an already busy intersection that’s regularly used by pedestrians of all ages, bicyclists, horse and motor vehicles.”


City council members noted an already increased amount of stress on that intersection with the WSFS bank, Wawa, McDonalds and Dover High School just down the road.


Council president Roy Sudler argues a developer could propose a car wash today, then switch to a fast food restaurant. He calls that uncertainty concerning considering how fragile that area is to traffic changes.


Other council members say it’s not up to them to say what can go there, they’re simply deciding to allow greater commercial use of the property.


The council denied the rezoning request 5-4, leaving the property only available for offices, banks or medical spaces for now.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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