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Thursday, July 09, 2015
Residents of several communities in central Brandywine
Hundred turned out
en masse to
object to a proposed mixed-use residential-commercial
development off Silverside Road near Marsh. No matter
that the plan is in a very preliminary stage and that
the owners of the 12-acre property promised to modify it
to address legitimate concerns, all but a few attenders
at a public meeting on July 8 were ready with a litany
of the usual ‘nimby’ issues – traffic, stormwater
management, congestion and historic preservation.
‘Nimby’ is an acronym for ‘not in my back yard’.
Branmar Commons would replace the remains a
long-derelict structure generally regarded as an eyesore
with 35 upscale condominium townhouses, a couple of
eateries and several commercial establishments,
according to Larry Tarabicos, a lawyer representing Joe
and Judy Setting, who have been involved in several
development projects in the area. This development would
“be totally unique [sic] for the (New Castle) county and
fairly unique [sic] for [nearby] Pennsylvania,”
The structure was once a one-room schoolhouse claimed to
have been in use from 1799 until 1939 and, according to
former owner Bob Forwood, is “the oldest
[still]-standing building in the nation that was once a
school.” The plan calls for it to be torn down and its
stones used to construct a smaller replica. That,
Tarabicos said, “will cost the Settings $100,000 to
$150,000 they don’t have to spend.” The building has
been structurally evaluated and cannot be preserved, he
The lawyer insisted that many details are left to be
determined and most of the features of the plan are
still open-ended. The proposal will require rezoning
from residential use to commercial use, a process that
typically requires up to two years.
No plan has yet been filed with the county
Department of Land Use.
Several times during the presentation Tarabicos
responded to questions and implied objections with
reference to doing “what you want” as the approval
process goes forward. Nevertheless, the meeting turned
testy at times with several people talking at once and
questioners becoming argumentative instead of allowing
Tarabicos to respond. At one point, County Councilman
Bob Weiner, who represents the area, had to shout a
request for civility.
Wiener, who arranged for the meeting in the county’s
Brandywine Hundred branch library, said he was hearing
the plan for the first time and consequently had not
formed an opinion on its merits.
The most-frequently-stated objections had to do with
traffic. Tarabicos said a study of traffic conditions at
nine or 10 nearby intersections will be required. “We
won’t go to public hearing before the traffic study is
done,” he said, adding that applicants for rezonings are
not required by law to follow that sequence. He said
that, without rezoning, the county Unified Development
Code would allow for 40 townhouses on the property.