As Delaware’s northernmost and most populous county, New Castle County includes a diverse mix of communities, businesses and industries, population types, tourist destinations and cultural amenities, educational institutions, and transportation options. Located between the metropolitan areas of Philadelphia to the north and Baltimore to the south, the County has experienced changes due to aging populations, ongoing traffic congestion, and increasing gaps between job skills and job creation. New Castle County’s population is expected to grow from 560,000 residents to more than 600,000 by 2050. However, much of this growth is largely expected to occur within the next 15 years. In order to best prepare for this population increase, New Castle County residents participated in the comprehensive planning process to collectively decide where and how this growth should occur. Will development sprawl throughout the countryside, clogging roads with congestion and negatively affecting the county’s air, water, and natural resources? Or will development concentrate in existing communities, making them more sustainable, vibrant, and attractive for people of all ages and income levels?
HOW WE HELPED
It was important to understand the potential impacts increased development would have on the natural environment and infrastructure in order to plan for a resilient New Castle County. Delaware communities are vulnerable to the effects of climate change and already are experiencing a high amount of nuisance flooding. McCormick Taylor worked with County planners see how climate change will continue to influence the daily lives of New Castle County’s residents in downtown Wilmington, suburban neighborhoods, and rural farms. A recent Delaware state executive order requires all state agencies to consider sea level rise in their agency activities. Transportation and land use, including industry and economic development, are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and New Castle County must therefore take a balanced approach to address the effects of climate change while also maintaining a vibrant economy and supporting local communities. McCormick Taylor helped the County understand and identify best practices to mitigate and adapt to these effects and protect people and infrastructure under these changing conditions. McCormick Taylor’s work built on Delaware’s Climate Action Plan, the Delaware Sea Level Rise Technical Committee’s work, and a Delaware Nature Society report.
In addition to writing the plan, McCormick Taylor also assisted the County with numerous public outreach efforts, including planning workshops, stakeholder coordination, and conversations with the public. A majority of the outreach took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, and McCormick Taylor helped the County develop virtual public engagement opportunities, including both large webinars and virtual meetings with breakout rooms for small group discussions. NCC2050 is the largest and most comprehensive public engagement process in the County’s history.
McCormick Taylor is committed to engaging environmental justice and low-income communities, who are more likely to be impacted by the effects of climate change. The public engagement that McCormick Taylor conducted during the NCC2050 process helped highlight New Castle County’s residents’ strong support for increased conservation of undeveloped, forest, and agricultural land; stronger air pollution controls; and revised building codes and regulations in flood-prone areas.
NCC2050 is one step New Castle County is taking to address climate change at all levels, including through local planning, land use policy and regulations, and strong coordination with stakeholders and the broader community. Implementing this plan will protect and strengthen agriculture, tourism, the economy, natural and recreation areas, infrastructure, and, moreover, New Castle County’s people and communities.
View the full plan or download specific elements at: NCC2050 Comprehensive Plan.
For more information on New Castle’s resiliency efforts specifically, view Element L: Climate Change, Resiliency, and Hazard Mitigation.
2022 Award for Excellence in the Field of Planning, American Planning Association Delaware Chapter (APA-DE)