GreeNCC - Land Use Initiatives
GreeNCC is a countywide program established to improve the environment and enhance the quality of life for county residents by enacting policies, practices and legislation to:
- Enhance water and air quality;
- Encourage healthy and eco-friendly lifestyles;
- Conserve and protect local habitats;
- Promote smart growth;
- Reduce harmful emissions by promoting renewables and improving energy efficiency.
More information about Department of Land Use initiatives can be found below. Information from the Department of Public Works can be found here.
Environmental Legislation Package
New Castle County Government has been working on a range of environmental ordinances aimed at protecting critical resources and enhancing quality of life countywide.
Limiting landfill height: Signed into law on 8/28/19
Creating more opportunities for clean energy and efficiency with Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program: Approved by County Council on 8/27/19, Agreement signed 9/10/19
Protecting water quality through the elimination of septic systems in major subdivisions: Approved by County Council on 1/14/20, To be signed into law Jan. 2020
Preserving and enhancing scenic views along byways
(To read more about each initiative, click on the links and graphic above.)
The Land Use Department has been working for many months on research and development of draft legislation for each of the three issues (community open space, forest conservation, and stormwater/drainage). Feedback received is being used to further inform development of effective and balanced legislation toward protecting our community’s precious environmental resources and promoting overall vitality of the county.
Related news articles and editorials:
New Castle County Executive Meyer commends passage of 2019 septic ordinance - Middletown Transcript
New Castle County ramps up environmental efforts with draft legislation package - Delaware Public Media
Here’s how New Castle County plans to protect the environment - News Journal Op/Ed from County Executive Meyer
New Castle County adopts program to fund sustainable projects - Delaware Business Times
To protect our water, New Castle County needs the right sewer plan - News Journal Op/Ed from County Executive Meyer and former DNREC Secretary Colin O’Mara
Discussions about the public sewer system and private septic systems:
New Castle County operates Delaware’s largest sewer system, treating 50 million gallons of wastewater each day through 1,700 miles of pipe, according to strict standards and rigorous monitoring. County-operated plants employ the latest technology to remove harmful pollutants such as nitrogen, a leading cause of groundwater pollution. Once treated, discharges released from our system are significantly cleaner than the water in our local rivers and streams.
In contrast, homes and businesses located outside areas served by our central sewer system are built with septic systems that discharge pollution through perforated pipes underground. While septic system technologies are better than decades ago, nitrogen discharges are 10 times higher per household on average than from public sewer systems — they simply do not effectively remove as much of the pollution that harms our waterways.
Over the past 18 months, developers have proposed the construction of more than 900 homes south of the C&D Canal in areas not served by public sewer – near tributaries that flow into the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays.
In September 2018, the County Administration proposed to County Council a one-year moratorium on the approval of major residential subdivisions using private septic systems to give government, residents, and stakeholders an opportunity to consider the expansion of public sewer to meet growing demand and to develop a Community Area Master Plan for Southern New Castle County. This plan should include a detailed strategy for managing growth, preserving farmland and open space, while protecting public health and the environment. The ordinance was approved in early 2019 and may be read here.
Ordinance No. 19-078, introduced 8/27/19
White Papers & Special Studies:
Improved Federal Community Rating System Score:
Starting in May 2019, County residents with National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance policies will benefit from a reduction in flood insurance premiums due to county government’s continued participation in the NFIP’s Community Rating System (CRS). The County’s CRS application, initiated in 2018, is managed by the Department’s Engineering Section and the County’s Office of Emergency Management.
The County was able to achieve a score of 6 which provides a 20% reduction in flood insurance rates to community members. This equates to approximately $250,000 in savings annually to affected property owners. In addition, policies for structures outside of the Special Flood Hazard Area benefit from a 10% discount.
Read the County press release here.
The Department is currently drafting a new Unified Development Code section seeking to protect areas designated by the Federal, State, or County governments as Scenic Byways. These protections are meant to preserve not only the viewsheds along these roadways, but also the natural resources along the byways that contribute to their scenic character.
Read more about the County's Scenic Byways here.
When a developer proposes a plan for development to the Department, they are required to set aside a prescribed amount of open space within the subdivision and to create adequate controls for stormwater management. When the developer has fulfilled all code obligations for turnover, the responsibility of maintaining the open space shifts from the developer to the subdivision’s maintenance organization.
In 2017, the Department formed an Open Space Working Group to discuss open space related issues and concerns. In addition to Land Use professional staff, other attendees included local developers, site contractors, engineers, land use attorneys, new home builder representatives, established community leaders, and inspectors. A wide variety of concerns were deliberated, and potential solutions offered for each.
The primary issues currently under discussion included:
Phasing in the turnover of open space
Landscaping requirements and optimal planting seasons
Maintenance of stormwater management infrastructure
Throughout 2018 - 2019, the Department has considered the concerns raised during the Open Space Working Group session and is currently reviewing the Unified Development Code’s Chapter 27 (Maintenance Organizations, Open Space, and Common Facilities) to determine feasibility and to ensure an equitable process for both developer and homeowners.
The Department intends to begin construction oversight of stormwater management facilities to ensure their installation is in accordance with approved plans and appropriate codes and regulations to promote long-term viability.
Earth Month Celebration:
On April 26, 2019, County Executive Meyer, the Dept. of Land Use and DNREC celebrated Earth Day and Arbor Day in the Bayberry North community in Middletown. The event featured a narrated walk along neighborhood pathways ending with a tree planting at the community clubhouse.
The Land Use Department and our community partners are demonstrating our shared commitment to protect the environment through the effective application of land use standards and regulations and by highlighting planning tools and resources offered to individuals, communities and land owners to support conservation.
County and State officials oppose effort to increase height of suburban New Castle landfill:
New Castle County Councilman Jea Street, State Representative Frank Cooke and County Executive Matt Meyer today demanded that Waste Management not be permitted to raise the height limit of its landfill located adjacent to a residential neighborhood in Minquadale. They encouraged residents to attend a public hearing Wednesday evening on the company’s request to do so.
The Waste Management DRPI Industrial Waste Landfill, in the shadow of the West Minquadale community and next to small-scale commercial establishments along Route 13, operates under a environmental permit that authorizes it to dump construction debris and other material up to a height of 130 feet. The company has asked state regulators to alter that permit and allow it to increase that height to 190 feet – a nearly 50% increase. Read Waste Management’s application at http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/dwhs/SHWMB/Pages/SolidWasteFacilities.aspx.
The landfill’s application is currently pending before DNREC, which has scheduled a public hearing tomorrow, Wednesday, May 29 at 6 p.m. at the Minquadale Fire Company, 129 E. Hazeldell Avenue, New Castle. All members of the community are welcome to attend to learn more about the application and to voice their views.
“A landfill should never have been built in a neighborhood in the first place, and this latest attempt is totally unacceptable,” County Councilman Jea Street said. “I urge every resident to come out tomorrow night and join us in saying enough is enough!”
Councilman Street has introduced county legislation, which is supported by the Meyer Administration, that would bar any landfill capped at 140 feet or less in height from seeking increases above that limit. Ordinance 19-046 would also create regulations in County law that require the impact on community health, safety, traffic and the environment be considered when landfill permits are filed.
“Debris and dirt from this facility routinely blows into the community and onto the grounds of the County Public Safety building next door,” State Representative Frank Cooke said. “I am very concerned about the impact any expansion would have on the community, the nearby Christina River and Churchman’s Marsh and the thousands of walkers and cyclists who use the Markell Trail that runs along the edge of this property.”
“This request would allow a Cherry Island-sized mountain of trash, filled mostly with out-of-state waste, to tower over the neighborhood like a 20-story skyscraper. That would forever alter the character of the area and harm the quality of life of residents,” County Executive Matt Meyer said. “I applaud DNREC for engaging with the public on this important issue for our community and I encourage residents to share their concerns at Wednesday’s hearing.”
Ordinance No. 19-046 - introduced on 4/30/19, approved on 8/27/19
Land and Agricultural Preservation:
Around New Castle County, development pressure can threaten lands that may best serve the public, not by being developed but, by being preserved. The Department has begun to partner with the community to explore this important issue and seek to define a more effective approach to land preservation in New Castle County.
The Department hosted a public workshop on March 28, 2019, entitled Community Conversations About Land Preservation. The purpose of the workshop was to formulate a collaborative strategy toward achieving land preservation & environmental goals.
Read the summary report here.
As a result of the Community Conversations workshop, New Castle County established a Land Preservation Task Force to shape a plan for enhancing the County’s land preservation strategy. The Task Force will also look at ways to improve collaboration with other entities to increase resources for the purchase and maintenance of land.
More information about the Land Preservation Task Force, including membership and meeting dates, can be found at this link.
Unified Development Code (UDC) Updates:
Recent updates to the UDC include:
- Utilize “Smart Growth” principles for building/site design & amenities
- Enhances the ability to create mixed-use, multi-modal-oriented developments
- Revised provisions to accommodate mixed-use developments
- Induces better walkability and bikeability
- Increased/adjusted landscaping requirements
- Implemented new reforestation planting standards
- Standards adjusted to reduce impervious surface coverage
- Created a new Plant List
- Requires/encourages use of native plant species
- Bans invasive plant species
- More instructive on plant selection; "right plant for the right place"
- Better guidance for all-important street trees