board, by separate 6-to-1 votes, agreed with the department
which said in its draft recommendations that approval of pending
ordinances to establish special zoning overlays will preserve
the historic and traditional characteristics of the communities
and promote their revitalization.
overlay, [community development] plan and [design guidelines]
manual can spark investment and economic development. New
buildings will crate new jobs, new shopping and dining
opportunities, and new spending opportunities," according to the
recommendation referring to Claymont.
The Hockessin plan "builds on the
New Castle County Comprehensive Plan and provides a more
detailed set of goals, objectives and strategies to meet
specific needs of this defined area within the
county. ... [It]
encourages the concentration of development within
an already developed core and utilizes existing
infrastructure to accomplish its objectives," that
James Smith, assistant
general manager of the land use department, told a
meeting of the board on Aug. 17 that 'hometown'
zoning is intended to promote "holistic development"
aimed at achieving overall objectives rather than
taking a parcel-by-parcel approach. Prospective
developers "will not have to worry about what might
happen with an adjoining property" and will avoid
having to seek "costly individual [zoning]
variances, which can [render] potential projects
cost-prohibitive," he said.
Following the votes,
Brett Saddler, president of the Claymont Business
Owners Association, told Delaforum that it was "a
very good day for Claymont." But, he added, "now the
job of marketing Claymont to investors begins."
George Lossť, co-chairman of the Claymont
Renaissance steering committee, said that approval
of the overlay will "give people in Claymont the
opportunity to get involved" in shaping the future
of the community. No civic leader nor resident of
Hockessin attended the board's meeting.
recommendations are conditioned on the respective
community plans being modified to make it clear that
owners will not have to bring existing properties
into conformance with the plans. Design guidelines
and other provisions "will only be for properties
with active land use applications before the
Department of Land Use," the clarification will be
required to say.
'hometown' overlay districts will be centered on
Philadelphia Pike in Claymont (above) and Old
Lancaster Pike in Hockessin. The Claymont area
contains 396 acres and Hockessin 153 acres. The
initial notations refer to existing zoning, which
will not be changed by the overlays.
appendix in the respective ordinances.]
recommendation referring to Claymont, however, refers to the
overlay having "a positive influence on all properties located
within the proposed [overlay] boundary [by providing] incentive
to redevelop under-performing areas."
also will have to specifically acknowledge that the department
-- and in the case of major development proposals County Council
-- still have final authority to approve or reject proposals.
Community Design Review Advisory Committees to be established in
accord with the 'hometown' zoning ordinance enacted in April
will, as the name implies, review proposals and advise the
told Delaforum that the intention is to have the review
committees in place by the time Council approves the overlays.
Committee members will be appointed by County Executive Tom
Gordon and confirmed by County Council. Selection of candidates
to serve on the committees will follow the practice used to fill
slots on other citizen volunteer panels with recommendations
coming through County Council representatives and civic
organizations, he said.
dissenter from both of the board's votes was June MacArtor who
argued that "hometown' zoning is unnecessary. "We have the U.D.C.
(Unified Development Code); we have county government; we have
elections. A community can incorporate if they (residents) wish
to have more local control than they [already] have," she said.
"It sounds like people who don't like the U.D.C. went out and
created this alternative."
he called 'hometown' zoning "clearly a salute to a traditional
neighborhood," board chairman Victor Singer characterized the
process as "an experiment to see if it will make it
(revitalization of older communities) happen.
Weinberg, one of the eight members of the board, did not attend
Mastrangelo, the land use department's liaison with the Claymont
Renaissance steering committee, said that a 'hometown' zoning
overlay will make redeveloping existing properties "less
stringent" than meeting the requirements, directly or through
zoning variances, of the development code. With regard to new
development, he said, "it will be no more or no less stringent."
Smith pointed out that underlying zoning is not changed by an
overlay. It simply modifies some of the usual requirements
relating to such things as density, building setbacks, parking
requirements, buffer zones and the like.
Claymont plan actually makes use of a zoning category which has
existed since the present comprehensive code was enacted at the
end of 1997 but which has not yet been applied to any property.
The 'neighborhood transition' area in that plan, like the zoning
category of the same name, provides for a mix of commercial and
Delaforum previously reported, the Hockessin plan was crafted to
meet the divergent requirements of an automobile-oriented
Lancaster Pike and what is intended to become primarily a
pedestrian area along Old Lancaster Pike. Although close to each
other, neither is expected to have much influence on the other's
the intent is to have motorists using Lancaster Pike "not just
see a sea of parking lots," planner Mary Grace Fariello said,
"We don't anticipate it will ever [have] a charming walkable
Nevertheless, she added, the Greater Hockessin Area Development
Association is establishing a committee "to identify existing
signage [and] promote voluntary cooperation" in eliminating some
that is considered undesirable. One property owner, she said,
has already agreed to take down a billboard when its current
cited as a possible "major redevelopment opportunity" in the
Claymont overlay zone the Children's House property fronting on
Green Street. He said that the area as a whole offers economic
development incentives as the result of its location between
Interstate highways and having a commuter railroad station on
the Wilmington-to-Philadelphia line.
date is admittedly arbitrary, he said 2013 has been proposed as
an attainable target for accomplishing the anticipated
department's recommendations credit a meeting in 2000 involving
Gordon, County Councilman Robert Weiner, land use officials and
"various stakeholders from the Claymont community" with starting
the process which led to enactment of the 'hometown' zoning
ordinance and the first two overlay applications. From that, the
documents say, came, in 2002, a community planning program
within the department and, soon afterwards, a community grants
program to help finance the planning.
the recommendation referring to Claymont said, arriving at an
approach to providing for revitalization while preserving
traditional characteristics is "based upon [an] extensive
community planning effort of the past four years."
as it may, Fariello pointed out that the concept is not entirely
new. The county's 'unique' communities and the need to preserve
their characteristics were referred to in the 1997 edition of
the county's Comprehensive Plan.