"Some folks in Claymont have a
concern that land-use decisions are made around them. Some feel
that Claymont would benefit if the decisions were made there,"
Smith told Delaforum.
The status he has in mind would be
different from any other governnmental arrangement in the state.
"It wouldn't be a full-blown municipality, like Middletown or
Newark," which provide a variety of local services, nor
neighboring Arden, Ardentown and Ardencroft, which are
separately incorporated mainly to preserve a current version of
the single-tax philosophy upon which they were founded.
Smith said his proposed legislation
would establish a 'Claymont Land Use Board' with five members
elected to two-year terms. The board would have jurisdiction to
deal at a policy level with zoning and land-use plans. Its
decisions would be subject to approval or veto by the county
executive. The county Department of Land Use would provide
professional planning and technical support.
In general terms, the board's
function would be similar to the county Planning Board, except
that its findings would not be advisory in nature and County
Council would have no role in the decision-making.
"It would be there so Claymonters
could make their own decision without depending on a big
government which is not always in touch with [situations] in
Claymont," Smith said.
times, there have been several land-use
controversies in the Claymont area and there is a major effort to effect a
'renaissance' involving renewal and redevelopment along
Philadelphia Pike. County government has been involved with and
supportive of that effort.
The local board, Smith said, would
have no taxing power.
The biggest objection to earlier
proposals to incorporate Claymont, which have risen from time to
time, have largely come down to resistance against another
layer of government and additional taxes. 'Limited
incorporation' would involve neither, Smith said.
Whether it would qualify property
owners in the community for a somewhat lower county real estate
tax rate is uncertain. The rate is set for unincorporated areas
and scaled down in proportion to services provided by municipal
governments in incorporated areas of the county, such as
Elsmere, Bellefonte and Newport.
The Claymont charter
would apply to the area defined by the U.S.
Postal Service's 19703 zip code.
That presently is considered by most residents and others to be
the 'town'. Bordered by the Delaware River, Interstate 95
right-of-way, Pennsylvania Border and Perkins Run, it includes
both the core area around Philadelphia Pike and newer suburban
communities such as Radnor Green and Ashborune Hills.
it has never had legal existence, Claymont traces its history
back to Colonial times when Swedish settlers pushed north from
what is now Wilmington to establish farms and mills overlooking
the Delaware. It served for most of the 19th Century as an
exurban retreat for Philadelphians. Its most significant growth
occurred with the coming of steel, oil and chemical companies
around the time of the First World War. The Claymont Historical
Society's Web site refers to Claymont as Delaware's "fourth
Smith told Delaforum that his
proposed legislation is about ready for introduction and could
possibly be acted upon by the General Assembly before it
adjourns at the end of June. He added, however, that he wants to
"gauge community sentiment" before any definitive action is
Lossť, president of the Claymont Community Coalition, told the
meeting of officers of umbrella civic organizations, which
County Executive Thomas Gordon convenes monthly, about Smith's
for the betterment of Claymont, I am not against it; but I don't
know how it is going to help us," Lossť said.
did not comment on Lossť's presentation at the umbrella group
meeting on June 5 except to say that the county administration
will be represented at any public sessions dealing with Smith's
plans. Lossť said Claymont Coalition expects to host the first
general public presentation of the matter.
who is the Republican majority leader in the state House of
Representatives does not live the area described as Claymont,
but his district includes a large part of it. Following
reapportionment for the 2002 election, the area was divided
among him and three other representatives, David Ennis, Gregory
Lavelle and Robert Valihura, and two senators, Cathy Cloutier and Harris McDowell.
All except McDowell are Republicans. McDowell is the Democrat
majority leader in the state Senate.