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CCOBH opposes "The Shops at Brandywine Valley"

This is the testimony of Chuck Landry, President, Council of Civic Organizations of Brandywine Hundred (CCOBH), which statement was presented to the New Castle County Land Use Department & Planning Board at the Exploratory Plan Public Hearing on October 2, 2007 on behalf of the CCOBH Board of Directors. The statement was presented in opposition to "The Shops at Brandywine Valley", a proposed commercial rezoning at the corner of Concord Pike and Beaver Valley Road, which rezoning is also opposed by Councilman Bob Weiner.


 I am Charles Landry, President of CCOBH, a civic umbrella group in Brandywine Hundred composed of approximately 120 neighborhood civic associations and groups that include some 83,000 residents of Brandywine Hundred. 

On behalf of the CCOBH Board of Directors, I rise tonight to speak against Woodlawn Trustees, Inc.’s proposed development known as “The Shops at Brandywine Valley”.

You have all had the opportunity to read the “Department of Land Use Exploratory Sketch Plan Review Report” of Sept. 25, 2007, and so you are very familiar with the serious misgivings Land Use has expressed about almost every aspect of this plan.

CCOBH also believes that this proposal is fraught with problems, not the least of which is the effect it will have on the failing intersection of Concord Pike and Naamans Road.  The Traffic Impact Study has not yet been completed for DelDOT, so we do not yet know what DelDOT’s position on this proposal will be.  However, I can share with you CCOBH’s concerns.  As I just noted, the intersection is in failure, and several factors already in motion will combine to make the situation worse, even if this request is not approved.  Development north of the Pennsylvania border along Rt. 202 will continue, the Village of Brandywine just south of the state line will soon be completed with 184 townhouses and condos, and Concord Mall is authorized to add a second floor with up to 30,000 sq. ft. of commercial space directly across from the Woodlawn parcels.  All these things will bring more traffic and greater problems to this intersection.  The TIP will study the impact of all these things on the intersection, but, unfortunately, will not examine the possible impact of significantly heavier holiday.

Woodlawn’s proposal would attempt to address the problems at Rt. 202 and Naamans Rd. by eliminating two left turns at that intersection and by redirecting that traffic into a detour through their shopping center that will be more than three quarters of a mile long.  One end of the detour would intersect Concord Pike at Rocky Run Parkway, and the other would intersect Beaver Valley Road at the entrance to AIG.  Two-way traffic using this detour will have to pass through four intersections, including one or possibly two traffic lights, one traffic circle and one three-way intersection controlled by stop signs.  In effect a major federal highway will cut thru and bisect a private commercial property were customers will need to constantly cross the highway to get from businesses on one side to those on the other.  For good reason, this has never been done before in Delaware, and any prudent person has to question the viability of such a plan.  We fear that if this project is constructed as proposed, the detour will fail, and DelDOT will have no alternative except to eliminate the detour and reinstate the left hand turns, returning the intersection to its current configuration, albeit in much worse condition than before.

CCOBH also has serious concerns about the design and purpose of this development.  The proposed shopping center will be located in an area with dense commercial development.  Except for the Whole Foods store, we do not know what businesses will occupy the site.  Will they be ‘new’ businesses or will they be businesses that relocate from some nearby site, leaving a vacancy in another shopping center?  Will they bring needed services and products to the area, or will this just be more of the same.  We particularly question the need for another supermarket.  There are already seven supermarkets within three miles of this development, the closest being only 1800 feet from the proposed Whole Foods site, and all of these supermarkets will compete with Whole Foods for the niche market it serves. 

CCOBH understands why Woodlawn Trustees needs to develop these parcels, and we are not opposed all attempts to develop this property.  Our primary concerns are whether the local infrastructure will support this specific development, whether it will add value to the community and whether it will improve or harm the quality of life for the residents of Brandywine Hundred.  On all three counts this plan fails.  It abounds with serious problems, it is surrounded by unanswered questions and uncertainties, and, in some ways, it is detached from reality. 

The proposal before you today cannot be salvaged by tweaks and alterations.  Woodlawn Trustees and their developer need to go back to the drawing board and design a completely new proposal that addresses all the problems and questions raised this evening. 

We strongly urge you to consider our concerns.  Think about the serious damage this development will cause, and keep in mind that there are countless alternatives better suited to this location, and to our community.  If you do so, you must, in all good conscience, deny this request.

Thank you,

Chuck Landry



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