Contrary to what you may have read in the News Journal or Greenville Community News, Stoltz has not “won.” It is my firm belief that final approval for construction of a King of Prussia size complex at Barley Mill Plaza or a 12 story building at Greenville Center will never be obtained. Why?
First, only conditional approval was issued by the County for Stoltz’ pending plans. The Stoltz “media blitz” proclaiming victory conveniently omitted to mention all the hurdles that have to be cleared before its plans will be unconditionally approved by New Castle County. Evidently Stoltz hoped its misinformation campaign would take the fight out of the community. Just the opposite has occurred!
Stoltz still has to convince the Land Use Department that its plans are consistent with the intent of the New Castle County Unified Development Code [UDC], in order to satisfy the condition for plan approval. Citizens for Responsible Growth in New Castle County [CRG] recently filed a twenty page Request for Interpretation with the New Castle County Land Use Department that highlights, with legal citations, the numerous ways in which the Stoltz plans violate the UDC.
The Planning Board can overturn the Land Use Department on appeal from disputed interpretations of the UDC. At the March 3, 2009, public hearing, the Planning Board was powerless to express a position on the Stoltz plans, but the Board is not powerless when contested interpretations of the UDC are placed before it on appeal.
Second, DelDOT has not granted approval to the Stoltz plans. The highly respected regional traffic engineering firm of Orth Rodgers Associates [ORA] has identified major flaws with the traffic data provided to DelDOT by Stoltz. In response, Citizens for Responsible Growth recently commissioned ORA to take reliable new traffic counts at Greenville Center. CRG is also commissioning a software traffic simulation showing how the Buck Road entrance is failing and how it will be even worse if expansion is allowed.
Our State Legislators and I have written to DelDOT demanding that it not approve any expanded use of the Buck Road entrance at Greenville Center. [see most recent letter from Senator Mike Katz, Representative Debbie Hudson and Representative Gerry Brady]
We are also demanding that DelDOT exercise its power under a recent Delaware Chancery Court decision to require downsizing of the proposed Barley Mill Plaza complex to assure Level of Service D and to protect existing intersections and road segments from further deterioration.
Third, CRG has hired respected professionals to assist the community. In addition to ORA, the highly respected firm of KCI Engineers with its extensive fire-safety expertise has been retained for emergency vehicle and internal circulation matters, and the nationally renowned land planning and design firm of Torti Gallas has been engaged for advice on the best design principals for mixed use development. Additional funds are also being raised to pay for outside legal representation if the battle moves into court.
AS YOUR PUBLIC SERVANT IN NEW CASTLE COUNTY COUNCIL, I WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT IS FACT AND WHAT IS FICTION. THE FACTS ARE:
- The Stoltz proposals are “mixed-use” plans in name only. They contain many inferior design features and would degrade the viability of the Brandywine Valley as a place to live for new businesses that might relocate here and as a tourist draw.
- No commitment has been made by Stoltz to promptly commence and rapidly complete construction, with all its touted benefits for the County, because financing for new construction will not be available until leases are signed for the stores, offices and apartments that Stoltz wants to construct. This will not happen until after an economic recovery is underway.
- The new minimum wage jobs touted by Stoltz will simply cannibalize existing jobs and reduce the tax base at other shopping centers, by drawing the same pool of shoppers and workers to Stoltz’ new buildings, increasing vacancies in other areas and causing blight with all its problems and diminished taxes.
- Building more shopping centers to provide tax-free shopping for out-of-state residents will use up what little traffic capacity is left to support the “next Astra Zeneca” type of high wage employer. A of prominent executives living in our area, some active and others retired, has come together to support the State and County in attracting the right kinds of employers to these sites.
Past negotiations between CRG and Stoltz have been positive. I commend both groups for that effort. However, it has been over one month since the March 3rd County public hearing at which Stoltz represented it would be filing new plans that addressed community concerns. Where are these plans? When will we see them?
The community’s longstanding offer of negotiations to achieve a “win-win” compromise continues to be extended by CRG to Stoltz – not from a position of weakness -- but from a position of strength. Your elected officials and I, in tandem with a broad alliance of civic organizations, corporate leaders and concerned citizens, are hard at work to protect our community’s quality of life. With your continued support, our prospects of success are maximized so that we can attain our goal: protection of our community character AND responsible growth in New Castle County.
For more information, visit www.bobweiner.com . To contribute to the CRG litigation fund visit www.crginnewcastlecounty.com .
Bob Weiner, your County Councilman
“Making County Government Work for Us”
Robert S. Weiner
Council District 2, New Castle County, DE
Louis Hinkle, aide to Councilman Weiner 302-395-8362