third of a series of three 'brainstorming'-type sessions on Oct.
28, representatives of building and engineering firms,
conservation organizations and civic associations reached the
pivotal issues and found themselves close to consensus on the
ownership issue. With no clear favorite among a variety of
financing options, it appeared that the sense of the group leans
towards combining some.
Haggerty, assistant general manager of the county Department of
Land Use, said the next step will be to have department staff
people draft specific language around the several conceptual
approaches for achieving stated goals which came out of the
meetings and present them for further consideration and possible
He stressed that the process so far is intended as an exchange
of ideas among interested parties prior to producing a draft
ordinance. Formal consideration will come through public
hearings after an
is introduced into County Council. As Delaforum previously
reported, the department has backed away from what initially was
offered as a draft ordinance at separately convened meetings of
various interest groups.
emerged as the most controversial feature in the first approach
-- deeding land set aside for preservation to a recognized
conservation organization -- evidently has been totally
eliminated from consideration. There was only sparse assent when
Haggerty sought opinions about whether consultation with one or
more environmental groups should be made a required element in
the review of subdivision proposals. There was stronger support
for hiring a planner with environmental credentials as a
full-time member of the department's staff. It now employs an
environmental consultant one day a week.
Earlier in the discussion, Marion Stewart, of the Civic League
for New Castle County, said the county should both own and
maintain the set-aside property. "We have a Special Services
Activities permitted in open space
Development Code lists these activities as
acceptable in land designated as general open space.
Some are not allowed if the land is in a flood
plain, is forested, on a steep slope or if certain
other conditions are present. It has not yet been
determined which of these would be permitted in open
space protected as a conservation area.
Golf courses &
Shooting & archery ranges*
Detention and retention basins
Land application of treated effluent
Public and private roads
Sewers, water mains & utilities
Special interest events
aren't capable, then they should develop the capability," she
Hammond, of the Committee of 100, a development business trade
organization, said that government ownership -- preferably at
the county level -- is the only way that the public can exercise
control over what is intended as a public resource.
it is intended that the protected areas become connected as
future development is approved, particularly south of the
Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, county ownership "is the only
logical way to go," said William Narcowich, of the Civic League.
at one point in the discussion said he did not think county
government would be amenable to assuming total responsibility
for owning and maintaining the conservation areas, but said his
role in the process was to gather the various opinions from the
group. He conceded that "it's clear the county will have to have
Whitehead, of the Civic League, said that whoever ends up with
ownership and responsibility should be bound with strong deed
restrictions governing future use of the property. "The
community has to have some control over how the land is used. We
could start out with open space and end up getting something
else. The county could come along and put up a library," she
said. That evidently was a reference to the use of a portion of
Talley-Day Park for a county branch library, offset only because
the use of federal money to develop the park required
replacement of the land diverted for other use.
financing issue appeared to come down to a three-point approach
-- builders' establishment of an initial endowment with a
'contribution' reflected in the cost of houses in the
subdivision, annual maintenance fees collected from residents of
the development and general county taxation.
Justification for having property owners throughout the county
pay for what appears to benefit specific, and in some instances
distant, parts of the county lies in such considerations as
improving water quality and supply, protesting wildlife, and
other quality-of-life considerations, said Victor Singer,
chairman of the Planning Board. "There is something in there for
everybody," he said.
Warren, a farmer whose property is in the St. Georges area,
cautioned that present property owners who sell land for major
developments will be penalized by increasing to half the amount
of a subdivision that has to be preserved. Even though the
provision would be accompanied by an increase in allowable
density and with it the number of residential units that could
be built, the value of the land in practice is determined by the
net amount of acreage which can be built upon, he said.
other hand, the intended ordinance will be a boon to
preservation of open space in the area of the county expected to
see extensive development over the next 20 to 25 years, said
David Carter, of the state Department of Natural Resources &
Environmental Control. "Southern New Castle County is not going
to have Du Pont families give us state parks," he said.