penrose hollins

A New Castle County Councilman and Wilmington resident said he will not support any further annexation attempts until Wilmington City Council changes its rules on public comments during meeting.

County Councilman Penrose Hollins' (4th-Wilmington) name came up during a debate by Wilmington City Council last week, as they've been discussing who, and when, should public comment take place during meetings.

Under the rules enacted for the session that began last month, public comment takes place in one chunk, between the non-legislative and legislative business, with each person receiving up to three minutes to speak.

Last year's Wilmington City Council session voted to have public comment before the meeting started, but then also gave an additional period during each agenda item, where councilpersons could provide their first and second discussion on the resolution or ordinance.

Hollins said without that extra discussion during each agenda item, it silences the public's voice.

"To disallow public comment is kindred to a dictatorship. Wilmington is only 72,000 people, it's a small town, it's majority minority. It just seems to me you are trying to silence the people that you uphold to represent."

Hollins said his support went a long way towards helping the city extend along the Wilmington Riverfront and apartments on Lea Boulevard; he also helped the city obtain the land required for the Chase Fieldhouse, where the Delaware Blue Coats play.

"There is more potential for annexation into the City of Wilmington which I have already supported as a major fighter. But given how the mentality of the city council is, I can no longer do it."

Hollins would not specify whether his decision could stop any future projects in his home city.

City Councilwoman Linda Gray brought up Hollins' stance during the debate of a bill that would have changed the rules to similar to last session's rules, but it was defeated by a 7-6 vote, in what is becoming commonplace in the first six weeks of the new council.

It could be at least a month before a new ordinance on public comment could be restarted through the city council system, including going through committee, before a vote.