Guest view: Citizens urge county panel to deny Incyte variance

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(Submitted by Neighbors for Responsible Land Use. Other points of view are welcome. Send responses to drainey@delawarebusinessnow.com)

Scores of concerned citizens voiced their opposition to Incyte’s latest request for a variance at an explosive meeting of the Board of Adjustments, saying Incyte’s expansion plan is too big, too invasive, and would severely impact quality of life in nearby communities with excessive traffic, light pollution, and loss of green space.

The April 13 meeting lasted until 11:30 p.m. and was attended, both in person and via Zoom, by citizens from Alapocas, Augustine Ridge, the Highlands, the Triangle, various condominium communities on the Brandywine, and other neighborhoods. 

The BOA, breaking its custom, deferred ruling so members can examine the record. The board has scheduled a business meeting for May 18. The BOA specifically questioned Incyte over their embracing of a public traffic study that confirms the many dangers of the proposed project, including already overburdened roads and intersections. 

Among the concerns voiced by people who testified at the meeting:

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  • Incyte’s renderings of its proposed buildings are inaccurate and misleading. In reality, the structures Incyte already has built soar above the tree line, as showed by various photographs of the site. A new office building Incyte wants to build on the current Wilmington Friends Lower School campus also would be invasive and destroy an important buffer between Incyte and residential neighborhoods.
  • Incyte’s traffic counts were conducted on Dec. 5, 2019, when Alapocas Drive was closed due to a bear siting. Further, Incyte does not take into account traffic from a proposed Wilmington Friends Lower School at Alapocas Drive and Edgewood Road or existing traffic congestion on West Park Drive. In addition, a DelDOT letter incorrectly states Incyte’s proposed “site is located in an area with a Future Land Use designated as an Office / Commercial / Industrial Development Area (OCI)” and that “ased on the above description, proposed development generally adheres to the New Castle County Comprehensive Plan. In fact, the plan shows the 20 Granite Road site as Low-Density Residential.  As such Incyte’s proposed development does not adhere to the Comprehensive Plan.
  • Incyte is a small pharmaceutical company and vulnerable to acquisition, which would create hundreds of thousands of square feet of empty space when the company leaves, repeating the scenario when Astra Zeneca moved most of its workforce from North Wilmington, razing the equivalent of 10 big box stores.
  • Incyte’s expansion on two-lane Augustine Cutoff, widely perceived as a corporate vanity project, is unnecessary as there are millions of square feet of vacant Class A office space within a 1.5-mile radius of the campus. Incyte’s utilization of that space would invigorate those communities while sparing green space and creating no hardship for Incyte.  

Incyte is proposing a five-story, 400,000-square-foot office building, twice the size of its recently constructed six-story tower and larger than allowed by county code. In addition to more space, Incyte is seeking a variance to permit 1,947 parking spaces when 3,295 parking spaces are required. To learn more about the issues, go to Neighbors for Responsible Land Use.

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