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11/25/2008
DelDOT reverses position: agrees to study collective traffic impact of all 4 Stoltz plans as requested by community & Councilman Weiner - Community News


DelDOT to study traffic impact of four Stoltz plans

By Jesse Chadderdon
Community News
Posted Nov 25, 2008 @ 05:52 PM
Last update Nov 26, 2008 @ 11:04 AM
Wilmington, Del. —

Residents and civic leaders who have been worried about the scope of four major development plans proposed for the Concord Pike and S.R. 141 corridor scored a major victory when the Department of Transportation agreed to lead a regional traffic study.

In a letter sent to lawmakers Monday, DelDOT Secretary Carolann Wicks said her department will study the overall projected traffic impact on the region, rather than address each project individually.

Stoltz Real Estate Partners, a Bryn Mawr, Pa. based developer, is proposing a 2.9 million-square-foot mixed-use village at the DuPont Barley Mill Plaza site; a 364,000-square-foot town center at Concord Pike and Beaver Valley Roads; a 133,000-square-foot expansion of Greenville Center,  including a 12-story residential tower there; and a 138,000-square-foot expansion of the Montchanin Corporate Center on the former Columbia Gas site.

The proposals have caused a major outcry from those who say the proposals will collectively cause gridlock in a heavily traveled corridor.

Richard Beck, president of the Kennett Pike Association, has met several times with Stoltz to convey those concerns and discuss compromises.

“We recognize the property owners have property rights and certainly New Castle County Code is set up to permit additional development,” he said. “So our objective is to find a way that is acceptable to the community and also beneficial to Stoltz. We’re looking for the proverbial win-win situation.”

Stoltz has come forward with a compromise, offering to reduce the square footage of its Barley Mill Plaza plan, lower the building heights in its Greenville Center plan and eliminate the residential component from the Shops at Brandywine Valley. In return, it asked the community to support two rezonings, a deed restriction amendment, a scenic corridor variance and to petition government officials to approve the plans as quickly as possible.

But Beck says the community is unable to agree to those things without knowing the full effect the projects will have on traffic.

“We certainly do appreciate DelDOT’s responsiveness and we also welcome the opportunity to enter into a constructive phase with the Stoltz people,” he said.

Councilman Robert Weiner (R-Chatham), whose district includes three of the four projects, has been pushing for the regional study for months.
Most recently, he submitted letters to the Wilmington Area Planning Council (WILMAPCO) urging them to request a study.

According to Wicks, it was at WILMAPCO’s urging that the department agreed to it, reversing her earlier stance.

She said her department would take the anticipated traffic volumes from the four projects and add extra volume based on a regional travel demand forecast, using the model to show the anticipated volumes on all the roads in the area both with and without the proposed development.

Spokesman Tom Gailey said Stoltz has always acknowledged the importance of understanding the projects' traffic impact, and said the organization was working through the processes that the county and DelDOT have in place.

"We don't view this as a battle with the community," he said. "This is the land use process that everybody goes through and these are obviously highly-visible projects and he would expect the community to be paying attention to what is going on."

As talks with the community are ongoing, Stoltz has pulled its Greenville Center plan from the agenda of the Dec. 2 Planning Board hearing.

 

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