Castle County Planning Board and the Department of
Land Use have recommended enlarging Claymont's
'hometown zoning' district to include the Brookview
Apartments complex provided certain conditions are
An ordinance to bring the
65-acre property into the district to permit its planned
redevelopment in 'traditional neighborhood' style to go
forward is pending before County Council. Unlikely to
generate any opposition, the measure could be acted upon as
soon as Council's plenary session on Jan.10.
In their concurrent
recommendations, the board and department acknowledge that
"the redevelopment of the Brookview property has always been
a key [for] the long-term improvement of Claymont."
It originally was not
included in the 'hometown overlay' because the previous
owners had no plans to redevelop and "were opposed to the
overlay concept," the recommendation report states.
Commonwealth group purchased the complex and formed a joint
venture with Setting Properties to redevelop it.
The report does not mention
that the previous county administration was strongly against
county government involvement in the redevelopment of
Brookview as a private venture and insisted that it not be
part of Claymont Renaissance planning.
"Once the overlay district
was established and the framework for redevelopment was in
place and successful, the Brookview property became a very
desirable piece of real estate," the report said.
Most significant of 11
conditions attached to the recommendations has to do with
'affordable housing'. While noting that design guidelines
under which the redevelopment will take place call for 10%
of the units to be available for purchase by households with
modest incomes, the recommendation goes further to say that
those units should be included in at least two-thirds of the
residential blocks in the new community.
"It is equally important that
the guidelines state that these units be physically
indistinguishable from the market-rate housing," the report
It notes that there is yet to
be a definition of what is 'affordable' agreed upon by the
county and the developer. That will be necessary before
approval of the development plan, the report states.
It quotes land use general
manager Charles Baker as commenting at the board's business
meeting at which the recommendations were approved to the
effect that "the 'affordable housing' component of the plan
will be a number-one priority for the county."
'Affordable housing' is also
referred to as 'workplace housing'.
A related condition attached
to the recommendation is that the design guidelines "specify
that development of the site will contribute to an increase
in the overall homeownership rate in Claymont." It does not
suggest how that might be done, but does note that 54% of
the properties in Claymont are owner-occupied, compared to
70% countywide and 73% in Brandywine Hundred.
Other significant conditions
attached to the recommendation are:
• That at least five
different building types be included in the development with
at least 5% and at most 40% of any one type employed
to achieve the kind of housing mix that the Claymont
redevelopment plan envisions.
• That buffers be provided to
separate the new community from adjacent Ashbourne Hills and
that there be a maximum building height of three stories in
the part of Brookview next to that community.
• That Commonwealth-Setting
keep its relationship with Torti-Gallas & Partners, the
nationally recognized planning firm it has been using, until
at least half of the required building permits have been
issued. "New Castle County would like the opportunity to
avail itself of Torti-Gallas services at the developer's
expense for assistance and advice to interpret design
guidelines as needed," the report states.