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September 24,  2010

Citizens group wins land
use battle -- or has it?

Even as they were taking a figurative victory lap, residents of the Greenville-Centreville corridor were warned not to be too sure they had won the battle.   

State senator Michael Katz told an audience which filled the Alexis I. du Pont High School auditorium to "remain vigilant" against the possibility that the unprecedented deal which County Executive Chris Coons cut with Stoltz Real Estate Partners "suddenly gets modified or derailed." What is known publicly at this point is that Stoltz has agreed to significantly scale back redevelopment of the former Du Pont company office complex at Barley Mill Plaza and expansion of Greenville Center. Although Coons, in an open letter to "concerned citizens" released on Sept. 22, referred to the deal as a compromise, it was vague on what the firm will get in return for modifying its original plans. Also, Stoltz has yet to file new plans, which will require some rezoning and zoning adjustments.

Originally called by Citizens for Responsible Growth in New Castle County to update supporters on the status of its fight to block the Stoltz projects, the meeting on Sept. 23 was mostly a celebration with frequent and loud applause. John Danzeisen, head of the ad-hoc organization, said the new proposal "goes a long way to address our concerns." But he, too, said the group must continue its advocacy role. "This battle is far from over," he said. He spread plenty of thanks around -- to Patty Hobbs, who started the group; to County Councilman Robert Weiner, who has mobilized opposition for two years; to Mark Chura, of Delaware Greenways, who has backed its efforts; to "our friends at the News Journal" for publicity thought to have spurred Coons's involvement in the controversy.

Underlying the proceedings was a realization that if Coons, as now expected, wins election to the U.S. Senate in November, the remaining two years of his term will be filled by Council President Paul Clark. Clark's wife, Pam Scott, is Stoltz's land use lawyer.

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