BARLEY MILL PLAZA Hearing's focus turns to traffic. Council misinformed before 2011 vote? - News Journal
Bob Weiner Preface to News Journal article posted below:
My incomplete quotes are taken out of context in today’s News Journal article. Due to no fault of its own making, given the few inches allocated for today’s article, The News Journal is unable to share the details of my legal position. I have been all alone in making a record of the truth about the abuses of process in county government in relation to the land use decision-making process. Further, I cannot control what lawyers decided to introduce to the court yesterday…or how the lawyers opt to pick and choose from my comments.
As a matter of public record, I have repeatedly testified that the legal advice from the County Law Department and County Land Use Department was legally incorrect. Traffic study data IS required at the time of a rezoning hearing. I urge you to listen to my testimony at the Council meetings on the evening of Tuesday July 26 at 7 pm and Tuesday October 11 at 7 pm…one of many examples where I was attacked for exposing the truth. (links posted below for your reference)
The Weiner Redevelopment Ordinance draft was designed to remedy the abuses and errors of law of past Administrations. It would have made county law consistent with state law…requiring traffic studies at the time of the rezoning. The Weiner Redevelopment Ordinance draft received positive State Planning Office recommendation and positive Planning Board office. The draft was never put to a vote before County Council because not one Council member would risk being targeted with the abuse that I received in championing it.
I frequently find myself all alone in my mission to protect the truth, protect the public and protect the sanctity of correct legal interpretation. I routinely am verbally attacked by the County Law Department, the County Land Use Department, the Administration and by many fellow councilpersons.
On July 26, 2011, I presented my proposed amendment to the Reda/Tackett Redevelopment Ordinance, which would have mandating traffic study data at the time of rezoning hearing…as opposed to at the end of the public approval process, after Council and public input is no longer applicable.
I invite you to listen to my testimony at the October 11, 2011 Barley Mill Plaza rezoning at which time I made it very clear that the county was violating the law in denying us traffic data.
I also urge you to review the information that I posted on my redevelopment link and the Stoltz link at www.bobweiner.com .
Bob Weiner, your County Councilman
BARLEY MILL PLAZA Hearing’s focus turns to traffic. Council misinformed before 2011 vote?
By Maureen Milford and Adam Taylor The News Journal April 23, 2013
During a daylong appeal hearing over the rezoning of Barley Mill Plaza, Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock III repeatedly returned to a key issue Monday, whether New Castle County council members were misinformed about their ability to consider traffic impact at the time of their vote.
In 2011, when council voted whether to rezone 37 acres in Greenville for retail redevelopment, at least some lawmakers mistakenly thought they were prohibited from considering traffic, a lawyer for a community group said.
That “erroneous piece of advice” to council members came from a lawyer representing the developer seeking to transform Barley Mill Plaza on Del. 141 and Lancaster Pike into a 1.6 millionsquare- foot shopping center, said Jeff Goddess, lawyer for citizens group Save Our County.
Goddess told Glasscock that some county lawmakers believed they were hamstrung by a 2010 amendment to county law that “pushes traffic matters to the end” of the process – or recordation phase – when they voted for a commercial classification for Barley Mill. At least two council members made re-marks that “they relied on that advice” Goddess said.
Before casting the deciding vote for the rezoning, Councilman Bob Weiner called it a “shame … we lost the traffic data and commitment to needed improvements at the time we exercise our discretionary rezoning authority. That’s at the time of the rezoning vote. When it comes back to us for a record plan approval we’ll only have ministerial authority which means we can only vote yes once we are convinced that there’s been compliance with all the technical requirements of the code. …” But, in fact, the Barley Mill Plaza rezoning application was being processed under pre-2010 procedures, Goddess said. Council members should have considered traffic before the vote under county and state law, Goddess said.
Save Our County appealed the rezoning in Delaware Court of Chancery in 2011 naming the county council, New Castle County and the developer, Barley Mill LLC, as plaintiffs. After Tom Gordon was elected county executive, New Castle County sided with the community group in January. In a twist, the county lawyer argued against the commercial rezoning Monday.
Glasscock appeared to latch on to Goddess’ argument about the council members being misinformed and returned to the issue throughout the daylong hearing in Dover attended by Greenville residents, council members and county officials.
“Let’s assume [a councilman] was mistaken in his interpretation. Was that arbitrary and capricious?” Glasscock asked Goddess. “What is the remedy? To go back and revote?”
Or should it go through the entire process again, Glasscock asked Goddess said not to consider traffic impact was both arbitrary and capricious. The rezoning should be sent back for an informed vote, he said.
“This is the first time a major redevelopment is approved without a traffic study. There is no evidence, no indication of any [major development] without a traffic study,” Goddess said.
Sidney Liebesman, lawyer for the Gordon administration, said the judge should invalidate the rezoning approval and start at the beginning with a new filing.
“This is a project of historic proportions and it’s not a project to make a mistake with,” Liebesman said.
Glasscock continued that line of questioning with lawyers for Barley Mill LLC, which is a Stoltz Real Estate organization entity.
“What if council members erroneously believed they were unable to consider impact of traffic on the neighbors? Does that vitiate the validity of his vote?” Glasscock asked Barley Mill lawyer Christian Wright. “Doesn’t it matter that advice given by developer’s counsel is erroneous?”
Wright replied that Weiner didn’t vote for the project because he believed he was prohibited from considering the traffic impact, but because Weiner thought the plan was “less harmful” than an earlier de-sign.
Kathleen Miller, the lawyer for county council, said members understood what they could consider and they were not told they could not consider traffic. The proceeding ended with Glasscock saying he will try to reach a decision as “promptly as possible.”
Contact Maureen Milford at 324-2881 or mmilford@delawareonline. com. Contact Adam Taylor at 324-2787 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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