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"Greenville high rise plan cause for concern" Councilman Weiner Editorial

Posted Tuesday, April 8, 2008
To the Editor:

I am the district county councilman for the portion of Greenville which includes the Stoltz organization’s plans for a high-rise in Greenville Center and an office building at the former Columbia Gas site.

The Greenville Center proposal is the more problematic of these two applications. The Stoltz proposal to build another large shopping center on Concord Pike at the southwest Beaver Valley Road is also in my district.

The focus of this letter is my concern about the Greenville Center proposal. I share residents’ concerns about traffic safety and ingress and egress issues which currently exist at the Greenville Center. I am very worried that the Stoltz 12-story high-rise plan for the Greenville Center, if constructed, would simply aggravate these safety concerns. I pledge to engage Greenville residents in the dialogue which I am undertaking with our county and state officials throughout the legal review process.

The high-rise concept is totally inconsistent with the Village of Greenville’s community character. It would be an invasion of privacy for this 12-story high-rise tower to loom over our quiet community residences.

We will need to work together to protect our safety and our collective quality of life. The task will not be easy from a county law perspective. The County Land Use Department advised me that the high-rise proposal does not require a County Council-approved rezoning or any County Council approval. In fact, I am informed by the County Land Use Department that the Stoltz Greenville Center high-rise project will be treated as a “by right” major land use redevelopment application, as long as it conforms with the technical requirements of the county subdivision code, which code includes factors such as setbacks, berms, buffers, ingress/egress requirements, square footage limitations and a height restriction cap of 180 feet. (However at 15 feet per story, 12 stories totals 180 feet.). However, I have not yet examined the plan nor carefully researched the applicable law so I am not yet willing to concede anything at this early juncture.

I will engage the entire community in a careful examination of the applicable county subdivision code provisions and state transportation provisions. I am working closely with Kennett Pike Association (KPA) Acting President Dick Beck, State Senator Charlie Copeland and State Representative Gerald Brady. I will be scheduling community informational meetings, working through KPA, with county and state officials to assure that our community is protected to the extent possible.

It is my opinion that the Stoltz organization collectively filed five land use applications before April 1 in order to take advantage of the currently in effect less stringent State Department of Transportation (DelDOT) standards. As of April 1, DelDOT put into effect a more stringent standard which would have required the Stoltz organization to perform a more rigorous Traffic Impact Study (TIS) in relation to the two Greenville area projects in my district.  Negative TIS results could prohibit or severely limit the construction of the high-rise if the additional community traffic caused a failure of the roadway system. However it appears that only the less onerous “Operational Analysis” will be required by DelDOT for these two projects’ analyses.

I have requested a copy of all three Stoltz plans which are in my County Council district. Once I have examined the plans and discussed them with the County Land Use Department, the County Law Department and the State Department of Transportation, I will be able to identify any and all opportunities to protect our community. I have asked the county to assist me in researching applicable deed restrictions.  I have the pledge of State Senators Charlie Copeland and Cathy Cloutier, as well as Representatives Gerald Brady, Bob Valihura and Greg Lavelle to provide assistance for which I am greatly appreciative.

Please visit my website for updates on this and other timely community concerns. For example, I have organized three community anti-graffiti Citizens Brigades in Greenville and Brandywine Hundred which are fully operational and we are looking for volunteers to join us.

Bob Weiner

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