Barley Mill Plaza

New Castle County

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The Delaware Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that invalidated a New Castle County council rezoning vote for a controversial redevelopment project in suburban Wilmington.

The justices on Tuesday affirmed a Chancery Court judge's decision that the council's 7-to-6 vote on the Barley Mill Plaza project in 2011 was arbitrary and capricious. The chancery judge concluded that councilman Robert Weiner reluctantly voted for the rezoning after council members received erroneous legal advice that a traffic impact study was both unavailable and irrelevant.

development plans

Delaware’s Chief Justice Leo Strine questioned the arguments by the owner of Barley Mill Plaza in Greenville that a lower court judge overreach in throwing out the project’s rezoning.

The lower court judge’s ruling voided the New Castle County’s 2011 vote to rezone nearly 40 percent of the 92-acre office park.

The owners argued that the lower court should not have gotten into the meeting records to figure out the reasoning of a key vote on the council.

Developers Plans

Traffic took center stage at the court hearing in Dover in the Barley Mill Plaza development on Delaware Route 141 and Lancaster Pike into a 1.6 million-square-foot shopping center.

Jeff Goddess, attorney for the citizens group Save Our County, argued that the County Council approved the rezoning of 37 acres in Greenville for retail development after being told by a lawyer for the developer that they could not consider traffic issues under a 2010 amendment to County Law.

The lawsuit to overturn the development plans for the Barley Mill Plaza office complex will resume April 22nd.

The case has been delayed after documents surfaced that New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon charged showed a potential for wrongdoing connected to the development.

Chancery Court Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock III imposed a delay without reviewing the documents adding it could turn into a criminal matter.

Incoming Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams is calling for traffic studies before the Barley Mill Plaza development project receives any kind of government approval.

Williams says he is concerned that the large-scale commercial development could have a negative impact on revitalization efforts in downtown Wilmington and the River Front.

The announcement follows New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon’s statements that he agreed with a citizen group suing the county over the Barley Mill project. 

Their suit is now headed to Delaware’s Chancery Court.