Columbia Place rezoning approved despite objections - Community News
By Jesse Chadderdon
Posted Feb 22, 2010 @ 11:04 AM
Talleyville, Del. —
Despite two hours of testimony from nearly two-dozen residents and the efforts of one council member to delay the vote Tuesday night, New Castle County Council approved the rezoning of the Pilot School site in Talleyville to make way for a 55-plus community there.
The special-needs school plans to move into a new facility on Woodlawn Road, but needs to sell its current home to build there.
Proposed for the 15-acre site is the 150-unit, age-restricted Columbia Place. Nestled against the western Brandywine Hundred communities of Tavistock and Eden Ridge III, the plans have riled residents who say the density is out of character with the single-family nature of their communities.
Indeed, the plan for Columbia Place calls for a combination of single-family and town homes, some of which would stand four-stories high.
But county land use officials - and ultimately the majority of council - said they believe the 10-unit-per-acre density was appropriate for the Concord Pike corridor, where mass transit is already available and many amenities are within walking distance.
At the outset of the meeting, Councilman Robert Weiner (R-Chatham) asked to delay the vote until the following week so additional questions posed to him by community members could be answered. But with the developer already voluntarily pushing back the vote once and facing a Feb. 28 deadline to move forward with the project, council voted 7-6 against Weiner's request.
"We're disappointed that the council did not want to allow time to go over some of the issues and questions we have," said Tavistock resident Frank Maderich, who was at the forefront of the community opposition over the last year.
The neighbors’ concerns largely centered on concerns over traffic, even though a Department of Transportation analysis of the project concluded it would produce fewer daily trips than the school currently does.
From a legal perspective, residents argued that the county was unjustified in granting the requested density because the school was not under-performing or vacant.
But Land Use General Manager Dave Culver insists the plan is code-compliant.
"Clearly the Redevelopment Ordinance...includes residential," Culver said. "And nobody has ever-envisioned that you had to let a building go derelict, kick in the windows and graffiti it before you can redevelop it."
YES (9): Cartier, Clark, Powers, Reda, Sheldon, Smiley, Street, Tackett, Tansey
NO (4): Bell, Diller, Hollins, Weiner
Columbia Place by the Numbers
Size: 15.39 acres
Density: 9.7 units/acre
Open Space: 6.43 acres
Town homes: 50
Town home height: 4 stories
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