A public hearing held Monday night, September 13, 2021, focused almost as much on something not on the agenda, as it did the items on the calendar.
The New Castle County Department of Land Use Planning Board virtual meeting carried three items connected to the redevelopment of the Brandywine Country Club on Shipley Road.
A scaled back plan from developer Capano Management proposes building 300 apartments, 41 detached single family homes, and 24 townhomes on the site of the former golf course.
The only entrance to the project will be a boulevard through Concord Square Shopping Center, also owned by Capano, which will require demolition of part of the shopping complex.
One of the land use items on the agenda would then allow Capano to increase the number of allowable retail pads to make up for the lost space.
"Our access has all been removed from Shipley Road, focused exclusively on Concord Pike," said development attorney John Tracey. "It does include a walking path, bike-ped connection in between Shipley Road, Concord Square, and other parcels."
The developer would also donate 44 acres of the site to the Brandywine School District, and it's that part of the parcel that received a lot of attention from those opposing the overall project.
Although no plans have been formally submitted, it's widely believed the Brandywine School District will use the site to build a new Bush Early Learning Center, accommodating hundreds of children under the age of 5.
"The community's issue with the proposed project is traffic, not a school," said former Planning Board member Mark Weinberg who suggested the school district look for an alternate location for the school.
Despite reminders from Planning Board Chairperson Karen Peterson that school district plans were not part of the hearing, Timothy Fox said residents need to know what the school district has in mind.
"You aren't able to approve a full picture of what the ultimate development will be on this parcel because of the bifurcated nature of the development plans," said Fox.
"Trading an interconnection between Shipley Road and Concord Pike for two different developments that have the same impact or worse impact on traffic is not in the best interest of the residents of the surrounding areas," said Fox.
State Representative Debra Heffernan (D - 6th), whose daughter attended the current Bush School, strongly supports the donation of the land to the district, and said the current development proposal addresses her constituents' concerns.
"Which was no cut through road from Shipley to Concord Pike, the single-family homes located closer to Shipley Road, reduced density, and the apartments located closer to Concord Pike," said Heffernan.
"The Brandywine School District is a good steward of property. The school will include open space available to the public."
The hearing lasted about two hours, but public comment will remain open until October 13th ahead of the next planning board meeting on October 19th.