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A Report from Councilman Bob Weiner regarding Stoltz' latest proposal - 10/24/2008  

Dear community leaders,

The Stoltz organization [Stoltz] delivered a proposed package deal to the Kennett Pike Association [KPA] on the evening of October 20, 2008, the night of KPA’s Annual Meeting, which encompasses all 4 Stoltz projects in northern New Castle County on both sides of the Brandywine River. Click here to read the Stoltz Organization's “take-it-or-leave-it” Ultimatum.

Stoltz ultimatum stipulates that “we will not negotiate specifics” except for what is characterized as “minor modifications”. Stoltz demands that “this is a package deal. All community groups/civic associations must support the proposals on all four projects.”
The Stoltz proposal is a “take-it-or-leave-it” proposal with a stipulated deadline for acceptance of November 7, 2008. Stoltz was not present at the meeting. Elected officials in attendance suggested to KPA that the proposal be rejected. I invite you to review the proposal and provide your input directly to KPA, CCOBH, to your elected officials and to me.

We have no comprehensive analysis of traffic concerns yet we are being asked to blindly approve rezoning of Barley Mill Plaza to permit a million and a half square foot commercial regional center with 6 story high rise buildings.

We have no comprehensive analysis of traffic concerns yet we are being asked to blindly approve a commercial rezoning on Concord Pike and Beaver Valley Road to permit a 235,000 square foot commercial shopping center.

We are told that we must agree to either a 6 story high rise or an 85 foot high rise at Greenville Center, whichever is higher.

We are told that we must waive the deed restrictions which protect 20 Montchanin Road [old Columbia Gas site], so that Stoltz can build its new building on the site.

Heretofore, Stoltz has stated that it will not attend open meetings and address questions. Heretofore, Stoltz would not even meet with the community’s elected officials and community leaders across a table to discuss specific project details. Instead, Stoltz prefers to declare that it has unilaterally determined the community’s wishes. Stoltz has declared that it will sponsor its own community meeting at which time the Stoltz organization will unilaterally control the conversation by disallowing any public question and answer session during this contrived forum. This conduct is unprecedented and counter-productive.

Stoltz has described this package deal as “financially feasible”. What is meant by this reference? It refers to the hoped for profit that the Stoltz organization would like to realize from its speculative gambit using funds which were obtained from its real estate investment trust “REIT” investors. The proposal does not consider the deleterious impact upon our community’s quality of life, our major roads, our country roads or our community character.  This proposal does not consider the loss of alternative opportunities to utilize our finite roadway capacity to attract companies like Astra Zeneca and DuPont Company. In other words, once our finite roadway capacity is dedicated to serve Stoltz’ large commercial centers [with relatively low paying jobs] which can only survive by attracting out of state vehicular traffic, then we lose the alternate opportunity to use our finite roadway capacity to attract high paying companies like Astra Zeneca or DuPont Company. This proposal does not consider how it will cannibalize the older shopping centers by drawing their tenants to the newer centers. The Stoltz organization would have us believe that there will not be any major regional traffic drawn to these projects. Our County Land Use Department professionals have repeatedly rejected the Stoltz plans as inconsistent with the New Castle County Comprehensive Plan and County Code. The community’s enunciated rationale for opposition is consistent with the applicable legal principles as set forth repeatedly in our County Land Use Department professional planners’ repeatedly issued letters of rejection. Yet Stoltz wants us to feel threatened that if we do not capitulate to its demands, Stoltz anticipates success in obtaining county approvals.

In seeking a fair analysis of our roadway capacity, it is critically important that we also obtain the support of our State Department of Transportation [DelDOT]. We have asked DelDOT to commission a regional traffic study which considers the collective impact of all 4 Stoltz proposals.  Thus far we have not received an entirely satisfactory response to our request. We anticipate a meeting with DelDOT to better understand DelDOT’s intentions. DelDOT has the authority to order a regional study and there is ample precedent. DelDOT has the legal authority to deny approval of the proposed scope of any of the Stoltz projects. It is for this reason that your elected officials and I have will continue to press for a meeting with DelDOT and the County Land Use Department.

Here is a portion of Representative Bob Valihura response to the Stoltz organization: “In my decade of service to this community and state, the most successful developers have been those that have engaged the elected officials and the community in the development project, and worked with them to create a project that everyone is comfortable with and which will enhance the quality of life for everyone, rather than detract from it. My legislative colleagues and I are still waiting for the first approach by you or your representatives about this project, which has been in the works now for over two years. Demands and artificially imposed time limits suggest a combative, rather than collaborative, approach, and often engender ill-will and hard feelings, where none existed originally.  I hope that you will re-evaluate your latest proposal and take up Councilman Weiner's kind offer to proceed together with the community's input through its citizens, its community associations and its elected officials.”
 
We are only as safe as we remain vigilant!

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"Councilman Robert Weiner is legendary for his energy, knowledge and drive. He is one of the guiding forces behind the passage of the environmentally protective New Castle County United Development Code. He has been a force for good government in New Castle County for more than two decades."

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