The case is before the Delaware Supreme Court on Feb. 19
As Feb. 19 approaches, opponents of the Barley Mill Plaza project are hoping for the best.
That’s when the Delaware Supreme Court is expected to review an August 2013 ruling by Chancery Court Judge Sam Glasscock, which found that a vote by New Castle County councilmember Bob Weiner was rendered invalid.
Glasscock’s decision overturned a 2011 rezoning of the development by New Castle County council.
At the time of the vote, Weiner mistakenly believed that he was not legally permitted access to traffic data during the early phases of the project.
The court ultimately found that Stoltz’s attorneys had misrepresented to council whether or not a traffic study was required.
Bala Cynwyd based developers Stoltz, under Barley Mill LLC, hope to build a mixed-use center with roughly 450,000 square feet of retail space in the Greenville region just outside Wilmington.
Monday night at the Greater Hockessin Area Development Association, Save our County member Joe Kelly said that he was “cautiously optimistic” that the case would go in the organization’s favor.
Kelly said that in the most recent court briefs filed by Stoltz, the firm denies they ever misrepresented themselves or any information.
“I think it hurts their credibility, (because) they clearly did on that point,” Kelly said. “Never before has there been a major rezoning without a traffic study.”
Kelley added that, should Save our County lose the case and the development built, traffic would be “worse than ever,” along Routes 141 and 48 as well as on smaller back roads that many residents rely on for faster travel times.
He also said that taxpayers – and not the developer – would ultimately foot the bill for roadway upgrades.
“That’s the misleading statements they continue to say,” Kelly said.
Weiner said that the traffic concerns are very complex, based around DelDOT’s regulations that provide developers a legal pass.
“In other words, developers can build projects which aggravate existing gridlock and, in ‘Monopoly’ terms, pay $200, pass go and do not go to jail,” Weiner said.
From a policy perspective, Weiner said that means development projects should not be held accountable to eliminate gridlock; rather, developers pay a “fair share” fee determined through creating a “traffic shed.”
In those cases, Weiner said, monies are paid into a fund that purports a “theoretical ultimate solution” that he said will likely never see the light of day in anyone’s current lifetime.
In the case of Barley Mill, where Weiner said there are failing turn lanes, DelDOT’s approval through their latest regulations will be issued without regard for fixing those movements.
Weiner said that lanes considered “in failure” are an average of the traffic vectors related to the intersection, including straight and turning lanes, according to DelDOT’s formula.
“If the average of all the vectors is less than 1.0, the intersection is deemed not in failure,” Weiner said.
Having that distinction, he added, does not mean there would be no gridlock.
“And that is something that the public needs to know,” Weiner said.
The case is scheduled before the Delaware Supreme Court on Feb. 19 in Dover.