During a July 25 meeting, the committee discussed in detail what they’d like to see in the New Castle County portion of the town and how they can reach these goals.
From looking at shopping centers versus strip malls and traditional tight-knit communities versus isolated conventional neighborhoods, manager of planning and zoning Janet Vinc provided suggestions during a presentation of what the committee may want to look at to improve the town.
Vinc referred to “Better models for development in Delaware” a packet put together by the Conservation Fund, Livable Delaware Advisory Council Community Design Subcommittee and the Office of State Planning Coordination.
“The gateway into a community is like a front door, and an introduction to the community,” Vinc said, “Route 1 and Route 13 are our gateways, our front door, and Route 13 is deteriorating with used car lots, repair shops and excess sprawl.”
Examples of sprawl are low-density housing and strip commercial development.
Vinc suggested that the town should fix the sprawl by building closer to the road and making new buildings more appealing.
Town manager Dave Hugg went through a map of the area north of Duck Creek with the committee to explain what areas are commercial districts and what are residential districts. A lot of the land off of Route 13 is commercial while a piece of land west of Route 13 behind the commercial section is residential.
While not all of the land is in Smyrna limits, Vinc explained after the meeting that the point of the discussion was to see what the town needs to do to prepare for possible land development.
“This falls under future land use. It’s not in the town yet but we want them to be,” Vinc said.
As part of her presentation, Vinc provided photos of land that is less dense with pictures of buildings closer to the road that would make it easier for residents to walk from shop to shop.
The committee discussed an example of what the town may want to avoid: a lay out similar to Simon’s Corner shopping center on Route 13, where large parking lots between stores make it difficult to walk from one building to the next.
One of the things the committee decided they need to look at is improving the zoning ordinance so they can be more flexible in allowing developers to be more creative with construction and allowing buildings closer to the road.
Redevelopment and a ‘community brand’
Also discussed during the meeting is the town’s redevelopment authority, which was created a few years back but hasn’t been utilized.
“The redevelopment authority gives the town council authority to go in and purchase a vacant building they feel can be redeveloped,” Vinc said.
Hugg also brought up an idea of a community brand during the meeting. Other towns throughout the state such as Middletown and Milford have branded their communities with a theme, and Hugg suggested the committee may want to consider doing the same for Smyrna.
Email Jennifer Dailey at email@example.com