County council rejects rezoning request for Newark-area shopping center

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The New Castle County Council has turned down a rezoning request for a shopping center at  busy corner  outside the city.

Opposition had been fierce in regard to the proposal.

A week ago, six Newark-area legislators sent a letter Wednesday to New Castle County Council urging councilmembers to vote against a rezoning request that would allow developers to build a 345,000-square-foot shopping center on a tract just outside the city of Newark.

Reps. Paul Baumbach, John Kowalko, Joseph Miro, Edward S. Osienski and Michael Ramone and Sen. David Sokola signed the letter, which states that the rezoning request for the Stopyra property is “inappropriate for that area.”

The project, at one point was known  as the Newark Town Center, has long been opposed by a group known as Citizen Advocacy Possum Park Area Inc. Discount store Target has long been mentioned as a potential tenant at the center

Baumbach said building a shopping center on the site is not viable and would have negative implications on the surrounding areas. The Delaware Department of Transportation’s traffic impact study predicts a near 50-percent increase in traffic on Capitol Trail/Kirkwood Highway east of Newark. Leveling the property’s hillside terrain could lead to dangerous run-off problems and flooding, legislators said.

“The downside of developing the Stopyra tract as requested far outweigh the benefits,” said Baumbach. “We have to consider the implications for the area’s residents. A 50-percent increase in traffic is simply unfathomable on Kirkwood Highway – already the fifth-most-congested roadway in the state. This is why the parcel is zoned as it is, and why the current zoning should stand. What’s also concerning is that the massive engineering project required to level the hillside could lead to major issues with water runoff and flooding. We don’t believe those are risks worth taking.”

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