District Councilman Robert Weiner, who is spearheading the
effort to add such a provision to the Unified Development Code,
said it is intended to convey some of the powers of a
municipality to a community without a necessity for it to
incorporate and add a new layer of government.
called it "a sort of quasi-home rule" -- a middle
ground between incorporation and non-incorporated status.
same time, the county would have the advantage of informed guidance
in dealing with land use and development proposals within 'sensitive'
areas, he said.
'home town' ordinance will be a companion piece to the
proposed 'unique corridor' ordinance which is expected
to be introduced soon into Council, also under Wiener's
sponsorship. There is no timetable for introduction of
'home town' and passage of 'unique corridor' would not
have to await that, he said. Weiner is chairman of
Council's land use committee.
difference between the two measures, he said, is that
'home town' envisions encouraging development while
'unique corridor', as previously reported by Delaforum,
is aimed basically at limiting development along
stretches of road, like Kennett Pike, which have
laws would function in much the same way. A Council
member, at the behest of residents, would have to
propose either the corridor or the community for
designation. A study by the county, which would include
public participation and require at least one public
if the nominee qualified for the respective designation. Council
would still have to approve. After
that happens, different rules would apply from those pertaining
to conventional development.
The main determinant
in a designated 'home town' would be the recommendations
of a community architectural review committee, which would
consist of residents and business representation and work with
one of the county's professional planners. While County Council
would have final say in the matter, the committee would exert
strong influence on the result. As a more practical matter, it
would have the ability to work with the prospective developer or
property owner to work out the inevitable compromises which go
along with such projects.
said 'home town' would permit such things as more intensive
development or so-called adaptive reuse of older properties in
return for complying with aesthetic and other guidelines.
Side-by-side commercial and residential development in keeping
with the traditional character of a community would be
permitted. "We're not looking at corner stores on every
block or anything like that, but there would be a much more
flexibility than is now allowed," he said.
'home town' route would eliminate the need to obtain multiple
variances for nonconforming buffers, setbacks and the like
although basic underlying zoning would prevail. Certain uses
which are permitted in existing zoning categories, however,
could be eliminated within the bounds of a defined community
said existence of such an ordinance would enable county
government to employ its power of eminent domain to further
constructive development and redevelopment projects. The law, he
said, permits that to extend to acquiring a property through
condemnation for such a purpose. "Condemnation cases aren't
concerned with the power to do that but with the price that has
to be paid for the property," he explained.
the concept stage, 'home town' is currently being worked on from
at both the political and professional levels. It has already
emerged as a likely element of a community master plan being
crafted for Centreville in conjunction with Wilmington Area
Planning Council. The Claymont Renaissance organization is also
looking toward its helping with intended rejuvenation along
Philadelphia Pike, Commonwealth Avenue and Green Street.
said he would think that only a few unincorporated but
recognized communities would meet 'home town's'
yet-to-be-determined criteria. Places like Talleyville and
Richardson Park come to mind. On the other hand, he said,
incorporated places like Bellefonte and Elsmere might choose to
give up municipal status to take advantage of a new arrangement.
'home town' will be different with their specific [concept] of
what they should look like," the councilman said. While it
would be impossible to draft a zoning category to accommodate
those differences, the 'home town' idea would allow them to be
applied on a case-by-case basis, he explained.