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New Castle County looks for public input in guiding southern development

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
Maps showing environmental features and protected lands under different draft planning scenarios

New Castle County officials are moving ahead with attempts to plan development in the fast-growing communities south of the C&D Canal.  


The county’s Land Use Department presented the public with three draft scenarios Monday for how development could play out in southern New Castle County over the next few decades. 

“Scenario one is assuming current state or business as usual,” said Rich Hall, general manager of the Land Use Department. “And then the two other scenarios look to tweak that, to say, okay, what if we change stuff? What might that affect? ... And how does that relate to policies and goals that the people want or they don’t want?”

The “business as usual” scenario shows unplanned development spread throughout the east and west wings of what planners call the “central core” above Middletown by the year 2050. 

A second scenario shows less development in the area below Delaware City, with growth focused north and northwest of Middletown. A third scenario would cluster development in Middletown — possibly creating what Assistant Land Use Manager Andrea Trabelsi calls a “critical mass” for employment.

“This idea of some additional employment growth to match better the number of people who live down here with jobs that they could potentially work at— that certainly was something that came up,” said Trabelsi. “People liked that.”

Trabelsi says constraining development northeast of Middletown would help preserve the bucolic character residents have said they appreciate, as well as help prepare for the effects of sea level rise. 

Land Use officials said while some residents are concerned about traffic and sewer extension, many are glad the county is focusing on communities south of the canal. 

“I think generally they were just excited about us focusing on that area, making it a special project,” said Dawn Thompson, who works on communications in the Land Use Department. 

The county is accepting public comments on the draft scenarios for the next two weeks.  It hopes to offer refined scenarios by the end of the summer — and a draft plan by October.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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