Divisive development project gets approval of New Castle County Council

By just one vote, a controversial land-use rezoning issue has been passed by New Castle County Council, clearing the way for a mixed-use project at DuPont’s former Barley Mill Plaza site.

The 7-6 decision came late Tuesday and two weeks after the original scheduled vote was tabled.  The developer, Stoltz Real Estate Partners, presented a scaled-down plan but also hinted it would pursue a much larger project if the smaller plan had been defeated. 

“We all look at this subjectively.  We all have different ideas of what we would like the county to look like,” said 3rd district Council member Janet Kilpatrick, who supported the measure.

Many in the community near Wilmington are concerned about a range of possible effects of the new 1.6-million square foot development, from worsening traffic and flooding to hurting other existing businesses. The dispute pitted civic groups against one another and divided the Greenville area community.  The rezoning of a portion of the site from office to commercial would allow for the building of a shopping center.

“Obviously everybody that lives within an area has a preconceived idea of what they moved into and how it should stay,” Kilpatrick added.  “Nothing is forever.”

One of the votes against the measure came from Councilman John Cartier, whose 8th district includes areas north of Wilmington. 

“I have a district that has a severe problem with underperforming, vacant shopping centers,” Cartier said.  “The proliferation of more of these across the county will only, I feel, cause more commercial vacancy.”

10th district Council member Jea Street, who represents a significant portion of Wilmington, was also against the rezoing.  “It sends a message that if you can come in and run roughshod over the well-to-do and the elite, then eventually it’s going to trickle down to having a devastating effect on those who are less fortunate,” Street said.

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