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12/3/2010
Residents determined to be heard at land-use hearing: NCCo still seeking input on plan - News Journal

County Councilman Robert Weiner, one of two Republicans on the 13-member body, said "promises were broken" during the 2007 updating process.

"That plan said that the concept of 'community character' would be taken into consideration when a new development project is proposed," Weiner said.

In reality, several projects have been built that are incongruous with what is located immediately around them, Weiner said.

Delaware government: Residents determined to be heard at land-use hearing
NCCo still seeking input on plan
BY ADAM TAYLOR • THE NEWS JOURNAL • DECEMBER 3, 2010 

Dozens of residents at a hearing about changes to New Castle County Comprehensive Development Plan said they were hopeful their suggestions would be adopted, even though many said their past experiences have made them skeptical that they would be.

The development plan is supposed to be used as a blueprint by the county government for land-use decisions. State law requires that the document be updated every five years. The county's plan was last modified in 2007.

Dave Carter, a Townsend-area resident and vice president of the Civic League for New Castle County, said he took vacation time from his job at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to be part of the last process, but came away jaded.

"I was discouraged that changes were made didn't seem to have the best interest of the average citizens in mind," he said. "The changes that were made were very pro-development changes."

But instead of surrendering, Carter promised to be even more vigilant this time.

"We have to be very careful not to be coerced or be duped by pie-in-the-sky language that sounds good," he said. "I'll be here again every step of the way to hold their feet to the fire."

David M. Culver, the county's land use general manager, said he thinks the 2007 process was open and that implementing many of the changes has been successful. 
New language with improvements in key areas such as water management, affordable housing and "village and hamlet" developments have been made, he said.

More meetings will take place next year, with opportunities for public input, Culver said. County Council is scheduled to vote on whether to adopt the plan in January 2012, he said.

More residents attended Thursday's hearing, the first in the latest process, than did in January 2007, when fewer than a dozen residents showed up.

But new County Executive Paul Clark noted that most of the residents in attendance were over 40 years of age, which is one of the reasons officials will try more outreach methods including e-mail updates about the process and a Twitter account that will be created.

"The more people who participate in the process, the better the plan will be in the end," Clark said. "We definitely need to get younger people involved."

County Councilman Robert Weiner, one of two Republicans on the 13-member body, said "promises were broken" during the 2007 updating process.

"That plan said that the concept of 'community character' would be taken into consideration when a new development project is proposed," Weiner said.

In reality, several projects have been built that are incongruous with what is located immediately around them, Weiner said.

Fritz Griesinger, who said he is active in civic, neighborhood and maintenance associations, said he's seen nearly a half-century of code updates.

"There's a lot of rhetoric in the process but very little reality," he said.

New Councilwoman Janet Kilpatrick said affordable housing will be one of the main issues she will be looking for in the new plan.

"I truly believe that anyone who wants to purchase a single-family home should be able to do that," she said. "In New Castle County, a young couple can only afford a very old home or a town house."


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