Woodlawn Trustees development plan draws scrutiny, criticism

By Tom Lehman 1:04am, October 3, 2012 - Updated 1:12am, October 3, 2012
Plans to develop a wildlife area just across the Pennsylvania state line drew scrutiny from some Delawareans at a rezoning hearing last night.

WDEL's Tom Lehman has more:

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Wilmington-based Woodlawn Trustees Inc., a not-for-profit company that is selling 1,100 acres toward efforts to secure a national park in Delaware, is planning on rezoning and developing commercial property and housing units on land it owns in Concord Township. The not-for-profit would not retain ownership of those properties, which would be sold to fund the company's conservation efforts.

The plan called for the creation of a 55-and-older community as well as multi-unit and single family homes. The proposal would also include construction of a large commercial complex in the area of Route 202. The southern edge of the plan stretches along the state border with Delaware.

Although the majority of more than 200 people attending the Township supervisors meeting were local residents, some were Delawareans concerned over the impact the development would have on recreational areas.

Among them was Gail Cook of Claymont, who owns a cottage in Brandywine campground next to the 324 acres in question and was concerned about several issues.

Cook says noise quality could negatively impact the campground area, which is sometimes used for religious retreats and recreational activities.

"We hear birds, we hear the wind, we hear the chipmunks, we hear the squirrels. It's a camp in the woods, that's what you hear. We don't want to hear cars and everything else. We're not far from 202 but you don't hear it," she says.

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She questioned whether the water quality would suffer in areas next to the boundaries of the developments.

"Our well for the campground is right next to the boundary, so what can we do to try and make sure our water is still good," she says.

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Richard Jones, Delaware State Director of the Nature Conservancy, the group national park and says it's unlikely the development will hinder their efforts.

The area in question would not be part of the 1,100 acres that are part of Delaware's National Park proposal.

"It would be a more a question of whether or not we are able to show the public the value of upsrteam habitat conservation on downstream water quality," he says.

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Cook and other Concord Township residents also raised concerns over displaced wildlife and what effect development would have on bog turtles, which are protected under the Unites States Federal Endangered Species Act.

Woodlawn Trustees Chief Operating Officer Vernon Green declined to comment on the issue, saying that he wanted more public input regarding the issue while rezoning is sought for the property.

The Concord Township Board of Supervisors voted to continue discussion of the rezoning issue and the proposed redevelopment for a later meeting.

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