Barley Mill Plaza Development Proposal – Myth vs Reality

Below is a document created by CRG (Citizens for Responsible Growth) that shows Myth vs Reality concerning the Barley Mill Plaza Development Proposal up for a vote by New Castle County Council on Tuesday, October 11th.

BARLEY MILL PLAZA

Myth

Reality

1. Myth.  By voting against the proposed rezoning of 37 acres from OR (Office Regional) to CR (Commercial Regional), County Council can prevent 454,000 square feet of strip shopping center along Route 141. Reality.  Voting against CR rezoning will simply force Stoltz to go ahead with its pending plans to develop Barley Mill Plaza as a mixed-use project on its present OR zoning, as allowed by the Unified Development Code (“UDC”).Stoltz’s mixed-use plan for Barley Mill Plaza (“BMP”) shows 697,612 square feet of strip shopping center along Route 141. This will be 225,000 square feet more retail than if the CR rezoning is approved.
2. Myth.  Voting against the proposed CR rezoning will protect the community against obnoxious uses like chain restaurants, convenience stores with gas pumps, and big box stores. Reality.  If Stoltz is forced to proceed with a mixed-use shopping center on OR zoning, the UDC still allows rows of chain restaurants as seen on Route 202, convenience stores with gas stations like WaWa, and big box stores — as well as other obnoxious uses.
3. Myth.  Voting against the proposed CR rezoning will keep a bad traffic situation from getting any worse. Reality.  Regardless of whether the CR rezoning is allowed or Stoltz proceeds with the original mixed-use plan on the present OR zoned land, either way Stoltz will create a strip shopping center that generates additional traffic.If Stoltz proceeds with his original mixed-use plan on OR zoned land for up to 2,800,000 square feet of retail, offices and apartments (plus another 1,200,000 square feet of garages), more traffic will be generated than if he obtains CR rezoning and builds up to 1,650,000 square feet of retail and offices.
4. Myth.  After voting against CR zoning, County Council can prevent Stoltz from creating a mixed-use strip shopping center by voting against Stoltz’s pending land development plan. Reality.  County Council has discretion to vote against a rezoning, but Delaware law does not allow County Council to block any “by-right” mixed use plan, which is what Stoltz has proposed.
5.6. Myth.  County Council can always amend the UDC to prevent Stoltz’s mixed-use shopping center from being entitled to approval “by right”. Myth.  Approving the CR zoning will create a precedent allowing shopping center development on the other side of Route 141. Reality.  Delaware law protects developers with pending plans against the passage of laws that attempt to change land use rules in mid-stream. Reality.  Three of the four corners at the Route 141/48 intersection are already zoned OR which allows mixed-use development of shopping centers.  That allows the property across from BMP to seek OR zoning and then develop a mixed-use shopping center. Denying rezoning at BMP will therefore not protect the community against shopping center development on the other side of 141.
7. Myth.  Approving the CR zoning will destroy community character. Reality. Community character gets destroyed by high buildings, excessive density and incompatible uses.  Not rezoning BMP will subject community character to 180 foot high buildings (nearly as tall as the Rollins building), much greater density, and uses over which the community has no control by deed restrictions. 
8. Myth.  Stoltz’s original mixed-use plan is better for community character because it includes multi-family residences. Reality. Stoltz’s original plans called for nearly 1,400,000 square feet of multi-story apartments backing up to West Park, West Haven, Westmoreland and other single family communities.  The homeowners in those communities do not regard apartments overshadowing their homes as consistent with existing community character.Reality.  Even without a density bonus for work-force housing (which Stoltz could seek under the mixed-use plan), 1,400,000 square feet of apartments will generate much more peak hour traffic than if the rezoning is approved.
9.10. Myth.  Stoltz does not really intend to build what his original plans show, so the community should not be bluffed into supporting his rezoning.Myth.  Approving the rezoning will increase the flow of stormwater run-off into Elsemere. Reality.  If the rezoning is denied, Stoltz will not need any further community support for his mixed-use plans.  Once the mixed-use plans are approved, the property will be sold to other developers for construction without deed restrictions.  The community will then face maximum build-out.RealityLessimpervious surface will be constructed to generate stormwater run-off if the property is rezoned than if the mixed-use plan is built.Reality.  Stoltz will be constructing a large stormwater management pond to help decrease the flow not only from Barley Mill Plaza but also from properties to the north.
11.. Myth.  CRG did not act for a majority in the community when it proceeded to negotiate deed restrictions with Stoltz that are based on the Coons compromise. Reality.  CRG only negotiated deed restrictions with Stoltz after ascertaining from community leaders and a broad cross-section of area residents that they supported the Coons compromise as being the lesser evil.Reality  The deed restrictions that CRG negotiated contain many important additional protections for the community that were not in the Coons compromise.
12. Myth.  Deed restrictions will not protect the community because they can always be changed or terminated by County Council. Reality.  County Council can only change deed restrictions that it has been given the power to enforce.  The deed restrictions that CRG has negotiated with Stoltz are enforceable only by the community and cannot changed or terminated by County Council.
13. Myth.  CRG failed the community by not inserting tough traffic limitations in the deed restrictions it negotiated with Stoltz. Reality.  The Coons compromise requires, and the negotiated deed restrictions give CRG the power, to insist that Stoltz comply with all applicable codes and regulations, including paying for highway improvements and fulfilling all traffic requirements lawfully imposed by DelDOT.Reality.  The Coons compromise does not force Stoltz to accept, and does not empower the community or CRG any right to insist on, stricter traffic limitations than the law requires.
14. Myth.  The community will have no say on traffic if County Council approves the CR rezoning, because the rezoning vote will come up before any traffic issues are addressed. Reality.  Voting for the rezoning means CRG will have a “seat at the table” on traffic issues which it negotiated as part of the deed restrictions.  This is not provided by the UDC so the community will not have any seat at the table on traffic if the rezoning is voted down.
15. Myth.  CRG did not listen to those who oppose the Coons compromise. Reality.  CRG actively solicited residents’ views and inputs.  CRG held numerous public meetings, posted website updates, attended many neighborhood and civic association meetings, and sent letters to association leaders and homeowners.  CRG’s steering committee included a broad cross-section leaders from the community and nearby neighborhoods, including Westover Hills Woods.Reality.  CRG has formed three committees to monitor the approval process including a traffic committee that will receive public input from all those who wish to contribute.
16. Myth.  There is no point in trying to deal with Stoltz on traffic issues through CRG because Stoltz can ignore CRG and deal solely with DelDOT and the County. Reality.  CRG and its traffic engineers have already met with Stoltz and its traffic engineers to set up a mechanism for exchanging traffic data and providing CRG’s comments to DelDOT and the County.Reality. The Agreement between CRG and Stoltz gives CRG the right to file litigation if necessary to enforce code requirements on traffic.
17. Myth.  The taxpayers will end up subsidizing highway improvements for Barley Mill Plaza unless DelDOT requires a Traffic Impact Study. Reality.  DelDOT claims and CRG’s independent traffic engineers have confirmed that the Traffic Operational Analysis (“TOA”) required by DelDOT includes every requirement that would be imposed by a Traffic Impact Study (“TIS), and more.Reality. DelDOT has the power to require even redevelopment projects to contribute their fair share towards highway improvments.
18. Myth.  Office uses generate less traffic than residential and retail uses. Reality.  Offices generate the most peak (rush) hour traffic.  Residences also generate high rush hour traffic.  Shopping centers typically open at 10 a.m., well after the morning peak hour, and are not heavily frequented by elective trips during the evening rush hour. They attract mostly existing traffic passing by which is already on the road during evening rush hour.
19. Myth.  If the rezoning is denied, then Stoltz will have to negotiate a new compromise because there is a lack of market demand for the office and residential portions of the mixed-use plan. Reality.  Current market conditions have little or no bearing on large development projects.  The huge project of Whitehall Village is obtaining approvals even though no market presently exists.  Bayberry Village took 12 years to get approved. Developers get approvals and later build as and when market conditions are favorable.Reality.  The office portion of the mixed-use plan already exists.  There is strong demand for strip retail on 141 and strong demand for new, affordable apartments.  Stoltz will have no trouble selling the land approved for apartment and the land approved for retail.  He may have to hold the offices until the market improves but that is the case in any event.
20. Myth.  If the rezoning is denied, then “a chance” exists that Stoltz will negotiate with SOC to wait until a medical office campus or other use with high paying jobs wants his land. Reality.  Stoltz owns Barley Mill Plaza in a real estate investment trust.  His investors will demand that their money be paid back promptly with as much profit as possible.  He has made clear to CRG that he will not negotiate any new compromise.

 

Copies of the settlement documents, including the deed restrictions, can be viewed at:

http://crginnewcastlecounty.com/updates.html


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