New Castle County Land Use – Real Planning for the Future

 · December 28, 2020

Editor’s Note: This episode of the Highlands Bunker podcast explores the long-term land-use planning happening right now at the New Castle County level. Accompanying this audio discussion with NCCo Land-Use General Manager, Richard Hall, is an Op-Ed by Jordyn Pusey, president of the Progressive Democrats of Delaware. Jordyn also participated in the podcast discussion.

Everyone in the county can participate in this planning by completing an online survey (links provided below) and by attending the virtual public meeting, tentatively scheduled for January 25, 2021. All pertinent information on NCC2050 can be found at the link Jordyn provided. All images were provided by New Castle County.

Short survey:

Long survey:

Development in NCC has long been a point of contention. Too often, a person’s first introduction to land use planning comes after receiving notice that a developer has submitted plans for a project nearby. The public’s involvement is now reactive instead of proactive. By this stage, the plans are already drafted, the legal process has begun, and public input, limited to comment at the Planning Board and County Council, is essentially a formality. 

Even when the change is complementary and welcomed, it is not unreasonable to feel left out of, or overwhelmed by, the process. Many have a visceral reaction to any change because of this lack of preliminary input. It is far easier to identify what development you do not want when the question of what your community needs or desires has never been asked. 

Involvement in the Comprehensive Planning Process is a beneficial and proactive way to advocate for development in one’s community. 

While the Unified Development Code considers the community’s character, the effects of development on nearby properties, and land use suitability, a large part of any rezoning or development discussion involves adherence to the Comprehensive Development Plan. 

This plan “provides the blueprint for future development and redevelopment in New Castle County. Changes to the Unified Development Code, re-zonings, and capital programs must all be reviewed within the context of conformity with the Comprehensive Development Plan.” The plan is a community’s vision for its future. 

I believe that the people who live and work in our communities are the best source of knowledge to determine the path to making their community vibrant and desirable. Accordingly, it is imperative to become involved in NCC2050 and share your vision for how the County moves forward. Your voice is necessary. Do you want affordable housing, environmental protection, open space preservation, more consistent design standards, and greater walk and bike-ability or more of the same? 

Do you want to advocate to preserve an undeveloped parcel as open space? Do you want to turn an underutilized strip mall into a mixed-use redevelopment project? Or do you want to give feedback on how the County can build smarter and protect the quality of life? If so, your opinion is necessary to make those visions become a reality. 

To learn more and to get involved, go to:

About the Author

Read more from Jordyn Pusey.