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Developer denies it played ‘beat the clock’

By Jesse Chadderdon
Staff Reporter
Greenville Community News

Posted Tuesday, April 8, 2008
A developer that submitted five large-scale New Castle County development plans collectively valued at more than $750 million, says it did not submit them together on March 26 to beat new development standards that went into affect on April 1.

Two of the plans filed by Stoltz Real Estate Partners, based in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., have already generated significant pushback from community leaders – a 12-story residential tower in Greenville and a large mixed-use town center in Brandywine Hundred.

The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) updated its manual of subdivision regulations April 1. The 347-page document outlines development standards for large-scale development projects in the state.

Councilman Robert Weiner (R-Chatham), who has spoken out against the two proposals, said he believed Stoltz submitted the plans together March 26 so it would not have to meet the new DelDOT standards.

“I believe Stoltz is serious about getting these plans built and I think their timing was essential so they could beat that deadline,” he said.

Chuck Landry, president of the Council for Civic Organizations of Brandywine Hundred, was also skeptical.

“If they did this to beat an April 1 deadline after which more scrutiny would have been required, then they’re certainly not doing the community any good,” he said.

Mark Veasey, spokesman for the county’s Land Use Department, said the department also believes the Stoltz was conscious of the deadline, but said the move represented no wrongdoing on the part of the developer.

Brad Coburn, managing director for Stoltz, said the company had other motivations.

“Our projects were all tracking along the same timeline,” he said in a written statement. “Our hope was filing them together would make the process more efficient for New Castle County and DelDOT. The joint filing also made the economic significance of the projects, which will result in job opportunities and increased tax revenue, more transparent.”

Marc Cote, a DelDOT subdivision engineer who helped draft the new regulations, said the timing of the filings would not affect the traffic standards Stoltz would have to adhere to. He said the state standards have been changed to match New Castle County’s long-standing requirement that traffic impact studies be done for all projects expected to add 50 or more trips during rush hour.

“Fifty trips was already the standard in New Castle County, so this perceived rush to beat the deadline doesn’t help them with that,” Cote said. “If they tried to beat the clock, it was probably more psychological than anything else. They’ve got engineers they’ve hired and I’m sure they didn’t want them to have to go back and learn the new manual before submitting the project.”

Coburn said Stoltz was very cognizant of traffic concerns.

“We realize that traffic management is very important to the communities where our proposed projects are located,” he said. “Traffic management is equally important to us and will play a critical role in the development of these sites. We expect to work closely with New Castle County, DelDOT and residents on how to best address traffic.”

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