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.
Land Use has led the following initiatives:
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.
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.
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.
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