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Public Hearing: Shoppes at Brandywine Valley Sketch Plan Review Report  

Exploratory Plan Review Hearing, Multi-Purpose Room
James Gilliam Building, 77 Reads Way
New Castle Corporate Commons
New Castle, DE
Tuesday October 2, 2007 at 7 PM
 
Dear friends,
 
The Stoltz organization has proposed that the southwest corner of Beaver Valley Road and Concord Pike be rezoned from high density residential to commercial in order to build a commercial shopping center, on land owned by the Woodlawn Trustees. Tuesday's Public Hearing is the community's first opportunity to let county government know how you feel about this proposal. I intend to speak in opposition to this commercial rezoning. If you have questions, please contact Lou Hinkle, my aide at 395-8362 or by email at lhinkle@nccde.org. The public is mostly not currently aware that the Stoltz proposal, if approved, would eliminate direct left turning movements at 2 of the 4 movements through the intersection to accommodate the extra traffic. The cost for this reconstruction would be paid for by the developer. However, the extra travel time to get through the 2 proposed new Jersey-style jug handles surrounding the intersection would add as much as 10 to 15 minutes of travel time at peak rush hour, on weekends and at holiday times. New Castle County is not duty bound to accept the commercial rezoning plan. I have appended details about the proposal and my reasons for my opposition below.
 
Each speaker will be limited to 5 minutes. If you plan to speak at the Planning Board/Land Use Department meeting this Tuesday, please carefully review the Land Use Departments concerns and direct your comments to address these stated concerns. The New Castle County Land Use Departments Sketch Plan Review Report expresses strong reservations about the proposed commercial rezoning. Remarks should reference these reports to the extent possible in order to assure that remarks are deemed legally relevant. The letter to Woodlawn Trustees details the date and time for the New Castle County Planning Board/Land Use Departments Public Hearing review of their plan. I have appended the remarks that I have submitted to the Planning Board and County Land Use Department, which you may also want to review for relevant points to be asserted.
 
Best wishes.
 
Bob Weiner, your County Councilman
Making County Government Work for Us
Robert S. Weiner
Council District 2, New Castle County, DE
www.bobweiner.com
302-395-8362

Read the Dept of Land Use Exploratory Sketch Plan Review Report

Statement of Councilman Robert S. Weiner
Council District 2:


To the New Castle County Land Use Department and New Castle County Planning Board

Exploratory Plan Review Hearing, Multi-Purpose Room, James Gilliam Building, 77 Reads Way, New Castle Corporate Commons, New Castle, DE Tuesday October 2, 2007 at 7 PM
 
RE: App. 2007-0439-S. Proposed Shops of Brandywine Valley, southwest corner of Routes 202 & Beaver Valley Road
 
A division of Stoltz Realty Company has entered into an option contract with Woodlawn Trustees to develop the southwest corner of Route 92 (also known as Beaver Valley Road) and Route 202 (also known as Concord Pike), which parcel is owned by the Woodlawn Trustees. The current proposal seeks to rezone 41 of the 43 acres from residential to commercial use to accommodate a 62,000 square foot Whole Foods Market anchoring the intersection and surrounded by a 200,000 square foot commercial shopping center. (Two acres are already zoned commercial.) Currently, the Stoltz plan proposes that the Whole Foods supermarket hug the intersection with the rear loading dock facing Route 202. The new urbanist idea of bringing the building forward to be next to the planned sidewalk has been adopted by the applicant but misses the real point since the entire plan does not create a pedestrian friendly environment.

The preliminary plan that was filed by the applicant is not acceptable. The applicant simply ignored the comments of Land Use Department planner Steven Faux. The proposed auto dominated Pre-Exploratory Sketch Plan slices up the parcel with crossing roadways, seas of asphalt, scattered multiple restaurant pads, a bank pad and a strip shopping center.

The two 4 story office buildings across the street on the northwest corner of Concord Pike and Beaver Valley Road establish a precedent for the high density residential on this southwest corner parcel. No one would expect single family residential to be built at this intersection. The site might be appropriate for a limited rezoning to allow certain mix of uses with the high density residential, so long as there is no commercial component in the mix. Appropriate mixed uses with residential include institutional uses and medical offices. The primary use ought to be mostly residential in the form of senior housing. In Brandywine Hundred, there is a large market for independent living senior housing to meet the unmet needs of thousands of residents who would chose to leave their 4 bedroom empty nester homes if there was an alternative supply of reasonably priced senior housing in our community. Our community is already inundated with commercial centers. Age restricted housing has virtually no impact on peak rush hour traffic. Office use lends itself to traffic mitigation. Medical offices are needed to serve our aging community. Residential use would counter-balance the existing commercial uses in the area to achieve the desired mix of uses in the Concord Pike corridor. This counterbalance can be achieved by permitting a critical mass of compact multi-story pedestrian friendly transit oriented residential use at this site. An innovative work force housing component tied to mass transit and pedestrian enhancements should also be considered. Residents could easily commute to work by walking or by existing bus service. The current site plan should be rejected and replaced with a plan that provides a pedestrian friendly transit oriented village plan with careful attention to architectural details and pedestrian oriented design guidelines. The parcel is appropriately zoned residential. The Comprehensive Plan denotes that the parcel as appropriate for high density residential development. This Comp Plan designation does not mean that the development ought to be rezoned for commercial.
 
The public is not currently aware that the present proposal would permanently remove the currently existing direct left turning movements at 2 of the 4 intersections to accommodate the extra traffic. The cost for this reconstruction would be paid for by the developer. However, the extra travel time to get through the 2 proposed new Jersey-style jug handles surrounding the intersection would add as much as 10 minutes of travel time at peak rush hour, on weekends and at holiday times. New Castle County is not duty bound to accept the proposed commercial rezoning plan simply because the State Department of Transportation accepted it. DELDOTs acceptance of the plan occurred simply because the Stoltz traffic plan removes the two failing turning vectors from the intersection. The Traffic Impact Study is still underway. Also there is an already pre-approved second story of commercial for Concord Mall which could be built as a matter of right at any time. The Woodlawn Trustees site, currently zoned residential, is designated for (and is appropriate for) intense residential development; which is appropriate so long as the development does not require modifications to the current direct left hand turning movements at the intersection of routes 202 and 92, as required by the applicants plan to address existing traffic constraints at the intersection.

There is much more to consider than just the myopic desires of those who wish to shop at a specialty Whole Foods supermarket for gluton free food items. Whole Foods intends to build its shop in Pennsylvania if it is unsuccessful in this rezoning effort in Delaware. The existing community supermarket, ShopRite, has added a broad array of gluton free foods to its current offerings. 

The community would be much better served by, and also more accepting of, medical facilities combined with affordable age restricted housing at this site. Medical facilities could shift its employees out of peak hour travel using the tools available in the Level of Service Monitoring and Mitigation Agreement which I spearheaded a few years ago. Astra Zeneca has shifted almost 40% of its employees out of peak hour single occupancy vehicles utilizing these strategies. In short, it works very well. Our aging community really needs a Trauma Center and offices for medical specialists. Ever since the Wilmington Medical Center shifted its main hospital from Wilmington to Christiana the Brandywine Hundred community has been underserved. An ambulances travel time during peak rush hour to Christiana Hospital from Brandywine Hundred is everyones worst nightmare.

When the Brandywine Town Center rezoning was first proposed in the mid 1980s, the community represented by CCOBH countered with a mixed use plan dubbed the Devon Plan, as it was first suggested by residents of Devon on Shipley Road. The counterproposal supported a commercial power center which would have fronted on Concord Pike, rather than it current configuration a distance away from Brandywine Hundreds Main Street on Concord Pike. The Devon Plan also called for a contiguous office component and then an outer ring of residential. In hind sight, the Devon Plan would have been a better use for the Brandywine Town Center and was also ahead of its time, in that it proposed compact mixed use at this major intersection. Ironically, the Brandywine Town Center has in many ways morphed into the Devon (mixed use) Plan, since much of the commercial space in the Brandywine Town Center has been converted to office use, the surrounding lands are now residential and also are now interconnected into the Brandywine Town Center. CCOBH had previously taken a balanced position which served the best interests of all and is again prepared to support intense residential use or mixed use at the Woodlawn Trustees parcel as long as it does not include a commercial component nor require the reconstruction of the intersection. I support the communitys responsible position as espoused by CCOBH leadership.
 

Thank you for your consideration.

Robert S. Weiner, Councilman, Council District 2

Read the Dept of Land Use Exploratory Sketch Plan Review Report

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