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1/18/2012
Groups again split over plans by Stoltz - News Journal

Groups again split over plans by Stoltz
Familiar territory for Pa. developer
Jan. 18, 2012   Written by ADAM TAYLOR  The News Journal

New Castle County Council heard two starkly different views from community groups Tuesday about a developer's plan to build a bank at Del. 141 and Del. 100 in Greenville.

In order to build the bank at 20 Montchanin Road, Stoltz Real Estate Partners needs a 43-year-old set of deed restrictions that forbid any new construction on the property to be removed. In exchange, Stoltz has proposed a new set of deed restrictions that offer other protections.

The project is Stoltz's fourth in the Greenville area that needs county approval to proceed. The Pennsylvania developer's initiatives have divided the community in Delaware's Chateau Country. Stoltz has already received a commercial rezoning for the Barley Mill Plaza complex, as well as zoning variances at the Greenville Center shopping complex and at the former Kirkwood Fitness Club.

The battle lines for the project at 20 Montchanin are the same as they were for Barley Mill. Members of the Save Our County group oppose Stoltz's plan, while Citizens for Responsible Growth supports it.

"Stoltz has put together a highly complex blackmail scheme," said resident Bob Williams, who sides with Save Our County. "I think the county should reject blackmail."

Williams was referring to the proposed new deed restrictions, which state that Stoltz will not seek to rezone the entire 20 acres at 20 Montchanin if it is allowed to construct a new building. The lone structure there used to be the headquarters of Columbia Gas.

Citizens for Responsible Growth President John Danzeisen said the new restrictions would be anything but blackmail. He said they amount to a reasonable compromise that gives Stoltz the freedom it needs to build on the property and affords the community protection from having an overdeveloped site at the gateway to the Brandywine Valley.

County Council's Land Use Committee listened to the arguments for 90 minutes. The vote to replace the existing deed restrictions with the proposed new ones is scheduled for Jan. 24.

Save Our County's Walt McEvilly contends the issue should be sent back to the county Land Use Department and Planning Board for a new public hearing, because the new deed restrictions weren't part of Stoltz's original proposal.

Land Use Department General Manager David Culver said that won't happen. A new hearing isn't necessary because the developer isn't seeking to modify the existing restrictions, but wants to replace them with a series of new ones.

Joe Kelly, a Save Our County member, said Culver's ruling was obviously wrong.

"To me, that's a change and warrants a hearing," Kelly said.

Save Our County members told the council that the increased development would set a precedent to allow commercial development in the area. Richard Beck, a leader of Citizens for Responsible Growth, noted that Krazy Kat's restaurant and Greenville Center are currently zoned high-density commercial, and what is needed are ways to manage inevitable new developments.

"We already have commercial out of the bag," Beck said

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