overlay would be applied by Council to selected communities
which predate the post-World War Two suburban boom and supersede
some zoning regulations when local design-review committees and
Council determine that that is necessary to preserve their
established character and appearance. In effect, the communities
would be given an official identity without having to become
incorporated as municipalities.
committee will oversee the work of the county auditor, who
otherwise will continue to report to County Council. That
arrangement will remove both Council and the county
administration from having direct control over what he aspects
of county finances he looks into and is expected to forestall
state legislation intended to strengthen the auditor's
actually will vote Mar. 23 on a third substitute to the original
version of the overlay ordinance. It will be introduced then to
replace a second substitute which is now officially pending.
Council rules permit substitutes for pending ordinances -- no
matter how significantly different they may be so long as they
deal with the same topic -- to be enacted the same evening they
case, Council's land use committee was told at a meeting on Mar.
16, the changes in the new version primarily are intended to
make it clear that the intent of the law is to encourage, not
prevent, development and redevelopment in the affected
Councilman Robert Weiner, a co-sponsor of the measure, said the
changes were made "after a conversation" the previous day with
Beverly Baxter, executive director of the Committee of 100, a
trade organization supporting the development business.
objection from part of the business community has been
addressed," Weiner said. But, he added, the intent of the
legislation has always been to foster redevelopment.
clause which expresses the purpose of what will be a new section
in the Unified Development Code now reads: "The creation of
overlay districts is intended to foster investment and
redevelopment in these communities by preventing the need for
[zoning] variances in order to maintain existing patterns and
characteristics, and to prevent the lack of harmony that results
from strict adherence to existing zoning standards."
were not enough, Charles Baker, general manager of the
Department of Land Use, told the committee, all of the numerous
references to what formerly were called 'community plans' have
been changed to refer to them as 'community redevelopment
plans'. The proposed ordinance provides for plans developed by
community residents to be given the force of law in regulating
future development activity.
change specifically identifies the communities that will be
eligible to seek an overlay as "unincorporated areas of the
county identified in Chapter 10 of the 1997 New Castle County
Comprehensive Plan Update as well as Claymont." Claymont was
"inadvertently overlooked" when the list was compiled, said
Weiner, who has been a spearhead of the Claymont Renaissance
movement which seeks redevelopment of that community.
eligible will be incorporated areas which have delegated their
zoning and other land use regulatory functions to the department
under provisions of the Unified Development Code. That provision
was in response to requests from Arden, Ardentown and Ardencroft,
which are separately incorporated, to be included.
was told that, in addition to those four, communities which can
be included are: Centreville, Christiana, Glasgow, Hockessin,
Marshallton, Port Penn, Saint Georges, Stanton and Yorklyn.
narrowly drawn, the audit committee proposal actually was by far
the more controversial of the two unrelated measures. It took
literally a last-minute compromise, evidently agreed upon just
before Council's executive committee convened, to secure
consensus. A substitute to the pending ordinance has yet to be
drafted to reflect the agreement.
Councilwoman Karen Venezky said that, instead of the previous
provision to have three of the five audit committee members
drawn from the professional community and one each appointed by
Council and by the county executive, all five members will be
outside professionals. "None will come from the government; they
all will be independent," she said.
lingering disagreement among Council members over whether all
five had to be currently practicing certified public
accountants. Venezky said she favors requiring "immediate
practical experience" while Councilman William Tansey said he
does not want to exclude qualified persons drawn from academia
surrounded by huge businesses. There will be no problem getting
people who are actually practitioners," Councilwoman Patty
Powell said. Councilman Penrose Hollins, however, came out in
favor of recruiting "whoever the best talent may be." At most,
the position will be minimally paid.
members split even on the question, with Tansey abstaining from
the vote, Council president Christopher Coons ruled that a
decision can wait and ultimately be rendered when Council
considers candidates for appointment to the committee.
also was dispute over whether the committee should be empowered
to 'direct' the auditing function or be given a lesser mandate,
such as 'advise'. In that case, 'direct' survived after the
county's chief financial officer said, "Taxpayers [will] expect
this committee to provide governance over the auditing
Robert Hicks said he was pleased with the measure as it will
likely go before Council for enactment.
indicated he does not think any lingering disagreement among
members will prevent that by declaring that passage will
demonstrate to state legislators that "County Council is
perfectly capable of reaching a compromise" to decide its own
another matter, the land use committee was told that the land
use department is in the process of rewriting and updating the
property-maintenance code. Assistant general manager James Smith
said that will deal with provisions covering what sorts of
vehicles can be parked on residential properties and where on
the properties they can be located.
happened, Powell, who chairs the committee, has a constituent
who was recently cited for a code violation for parking an
oversize truck he uses in his business on his property. She said
he has been doing that for 20 years and there was no fuss about
it until a new neighbor filed a complaint. "I don't think it is
right that someone should be penalized for something that
affects their livelihood," she said.
indicated an even more contentious matter when he noted that
some suburban utility vans and recreational vehicles are larger
than what is allowed by the existing code.