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5/14/2008
Stoltz development will overwhelm area

News Journal Editorial letter 5/14/08

Nearly a month has passed since Stoltz Real Estate Partners unveiled plans for five major real estate development projects in New Castle County. The scope and impact of this onslaught is still sinking in with residents around the county. Reactions by most have been, not surprisingly, negative.\

In speaking with numerous elected officials and representatives of neighborhood associations, some themes seem to be coalescing around these projects in particular, and development in general. This is that development should be in harmony with and supportive of the surrounding community. The Stoltz development plans are not.

In a March 27 News Journal article about these projects, a Stoltz director expressed his belief that the projects will "contribute positively to Delaware for decades." Stoltz corporate headquarters are located north of Philadelphia. It echoed these sentiments through legal representatives at a meeting with members of the Kennett Pike Association.

Contrary to Stoltz's self-interested claims, the only discernable contributions of these projects will be increased traffic congestion and pollution, and irreversible damage to the character of historic areas that are federally designated as "scenic byways."

Stoltz fails to articulate specific benefits to the surrounding community, and fails to address in a fair way the concerns raised by Kennett Pike Association and others.

In contrast to this scenario of pursuing projects that detract from established, thriving areas, look to the numerous Buccini/Pollin Group projects on Wilmington's Riverfront and Market Street areas. These projects that have been overwhelmingly applauded as revitalizing initiatives.

Some projects are appropriately welcomed as beneficial on a broad basis, while others are reviled as benefiting no one beyond out-of-state developers.

Elected officials are in the delicate position of trying to balance a complex network of competing interests. They should be sensitive to the interests of the constituents who elect them. For instance, state Senate Minority Leader Charles Copeland's aspirations to the office of lieutenant governor would presumably not be enhanced if some of these projects go through.

Specifically, a 12-story residential tower proposed in the heart of Greenville elicited shock from New Castle County Councilman William Tansey. It is arguably the most egregious example in these proposals.

One of the most important issues facing Delaware residents and elected officials is how to prevent harmful, opportunistic development while nurturing smart and beneficial development. The attributes and opportunities that make our state special are worth protecting.

Anthony Lunger is with the Buck Road Association in Wilmington.

 

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