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2/14/2010
NCCo Councilman Weiner tries to delay Pilot School rezoning vote; strong objection by developer - News Journal

Delaware government: NCCo councilman tries to delay rezoning vote
Pilot School looks to sell land off U.S. 202

BY ADAM TAYLOR • THE NEWS JOURNAL • FEBRUARY 14, 2010

A New Castle County councilman will try to delay a vote to rezone the site of a Talleyville school because the proposed residential use for the site might not be legal.

The Pilot School off U.S. 202 is looking to move to a larger Brandywine Hundred location, near Kohl's department store about a mile to the north. To do so, it needs to sell its current 15-acre site.

The would-be buyer, developer Jerome Heisler of the Reybold Group, wants to build a 149-unit age-restricted community that would be called Columbia Place at Garden of Eden Road. The development would be a mix of single family homes, two-story town houses and condominiums.

The council is scheduled to vote on the higher-density zoning designation that would allow the sale to go through Tuesday. The county's Department of Land Use has recommended the council approve the change, but Councilman Bob Weiner, whose district includes the school property, isn't ready to follow the department's lead.

Weiner said the formula that would allow 10 units per acre is based on a redevelopment provision that is supposed to apply to abandoned or underperforming shopping centers and gas stations .

"One of my unanswered questions is how a perfectly functioning school qualifies for such high-density redevelopment," he said.

Heisler's attorney, Lisa Goodman, said she would "strongly object" if Weiner tried to table Tuesday's vote. Her client has fulfilled all the requirements for the change and deserves a vote, she said.

Frank Maderich, one of the leaders of a group of neighbors opposing the rezoning, agrees that county land-use officials might have miscalculated how many units are permissible for the site. Maderich noted that other age-restricted communities near the 202 corridor have around four living units an acre on the properties.

"We're not against the Pilot School selling this so they can move," he said. "We're for it. It's just that we feel that the density of 10 units per acre and the layout is too much."

Heisler has said his plan is a good fit for the area, a busy retail corridor ringed by residential development. The Jewish Community Center, Brandywine Valley Baptist Church and a YMCA are all nearby, he noted. He has said he needs the density to make the financials of the deal work.

But Maderich and other residents in the nearby Tavistock and Edenridge III communities think Columbia Place, which would include condominium buildings four stories high, would hurt the quality of life in the neighborhood not only by its appearance, but because of the traffic it would generate.

Goodman said she is confident the council will approve her client's project if Weiner is not successful in postponing the vote.

"The Land Use Department looks at rezoning applications solely as to whether the zoning is appropriate for the site, and the department has recommended strongly in favor of this rezoning," she said.

Contact Adam Taylor at 324-2787 or ataylor@delawareonline.com.

 

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