French Park development plan approved by county council

By Tom Lehman 11:36pm, June 11, 2013 - Updated 6:30pm, June 12, 2013
VIDEO: Councilman Bill Powers explains his opposition to the French Park development plan.
New Castle County Council narrowly approved Tuesday night a development plan including more than 500 residential units to be located in Glasgow.

WDEL's Tom Lehman reports.

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The French Park development plan calls for 372 apartments and 139 townhouses on about 26 acres land on the west side of Salem Church Road south of Reybold Road. The property in question is about 100 acres.

The plan had previously been involved in a lawsuit that was resolved in 2011, according to Rich Abbott, an attorney representing the developer.

Abbott says traffic won't be an issue from the new homes.

"DelDOT has done the calculations and run the numbers and determined that the road networks and intersections affected by this project can accommodate safely and conveniently the traffic," Abbott says.

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Councilman Bill Powers, who heads the land use committee and voted no on the resolution, says the traffic information was outdated.

"They're saying the traffic data has been there since the sixties or seventies...and they're saying they had 600 homes out there," Powers says. "Have you ridden down some of those roads? Salem Church, Baltimore Pike? If they did there should be a lot more easier travel right now."

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Powers also cited concerns over environmental issues stemming from the property's proximity to wetlands.

Nevertheless, the resolution passed in a 7-5 decision with Councilman Dave Tackett voting present since he has strongly opposed the development.

Council urges Exec. Gordon to sign deal with nonprofit

Council also passed a resolution urging County Executive Tom Gordon to sign an agreement that would let a nonprofit perform work to restore Rockwood Conservatory.

Councilman John Cartier sponsored the resolution, which passed in a 9-1 decision with three members voting present.

"What the

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have proposed is a privately funded project that they will go ahead and restore the Rockwood Conservatory and gift it to New Castle County and the public of New Castle County," Cartier says.

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Cartier says the conservatory restoration project would require about $150,000, and the group would obtain those funds through private fundraising. However, he says a deal must be signed to allow the group to undertake the project.

"The conservatory, which is in effect a winter garden, needs major renovation," he says. "It's in a state or pretty severe deterioration."

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County healthcare surcharge discontinued

Council also voted to discontinue a 2.25 percent health insurance surcharge for non-union executive branch, unclassified service employees and non-union classified service employees.

The measure goes into effect in Fiscial Year 2014, which begins July 1. It is estimated to cost about $265,000 and funding for the measure has been included in the FY2014 operating budget.

County spokesman Antonio Prado says County Executive Gordon supports discontinuing the surcharge.

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