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New Castle County moves to protect historic properties it buys

Historic preservation advocates won a small victory in New Castle County this week.

Council passed a measure Tuesday that requires the County go about rezoning with a Historic Overlay any eligible properties it purchases, within three months of buying them. It only applies to historic properties the county purchases from this point forward—and would require the rezoning before the County resells them. 

The Historic Overlay zone restricts alterations to the outside of buildings, and requires additional review for permits. 

Councilwoman Dee Durham sponsored the measure and argued at Tuesday's meeting that the County government should be a leader in preserving historic resources. 

Vince Watchorn, president of Friends of Cooch’s Bridge Historical Site, agreed the measure holds the County to a higher standard.

“And I think makes our future in New Castle County one that other generations would appreciate and thank us for giving to them as a place that’s grounded in heritage and history,” he said. 

But Councilwoman Janet Kilpatrick objected to the idea of the County purchasing historic properties in the first place. 

“We try to maintain them, we don’t have enough money to maintain them, they sit vacant, they get vandalized,” she said. 

The new ordinance does not direct the County to purchase historic properties, but rather lays out what would happen after it does.


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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