Getting To Know The Candidates For New Castle County Council

2018 District 2 Race in New Castle County, DE

Oct 11, 2018


On October 1, Save the Valley provided 10 questions to Bob Weiner and Dee Durham, candidates for New Castle Council, District 2. Bob Weiner is the incumbent. We are keeping our eyes on this race in particular because this is the district that the Valley lies within. 

Save the Valley is a single-issue organization. We care about and fight for open space preservation and limited development. We suggest that you evaluate the candidates based on:

  • Responsiveness of the answers - candidates were asked to limit answers to no more than 500 words.
  • Veracity of their answers
  • Evidence that open space and limited development is the most important priority of the candidate
  • Their track record

As you’ll see when you begin reading, we also offer a few questions for you to think about as you review their responses Thanks for caring!

1. How do you enjoy nature?

Bob Weiner:

I am proud to be a Trail Watch Steward; helping others to enjoy, conserve and protect our precious trailways.
As a user of our trails and parks, I love sharing our beautiful and unique resource with others. The Trail Steward Program is a wonderful partnership program through Delaware Greenways and Delaware State Parks. In addition, New Castle County, Delaware Department of Transportation and I are partnered to help preserve, promote and ensure a safe, rewarding trail experience on the Northern Delaware Greenway Trail.

I was certified through the Trail Steward Training Program, along with many other citizens, in what is the first graduation “Class of 2010”.

I have also partnered the Citizens Anti-graffiti Brigade Program, which I initiated, with Park Trail Steward Program, so that citizens can assist our Delaware State Parks Department to eradicate graffiti from our parks soon as it is reported.  I serve on the Delaware Greenways Advisory Board and am passionately engaged in protecting our precious open space, while adding more parkland and greenways.  

Dee Durham:

I enjoy hiking, biking, camping, gardening, and just plain nature watching and soaking it all in.  Throughout my youth, I rode horseback and hiked all through the valley for hours on end.  This was my inspiration for becoming involved in conservation and environmental protection as an adult.  Natural environments are my happy place – they are my place of worship. 

Our Question For You: Which candidate do you think it is more likely you will run into hiking on a trail or enjoying nature in some other way?

2. What is your favorite trail?

Bob Weiner:

I enjoy all our Delaware State Parks; but our Northern Delaware Greenways Trails are my favorites. 

Dee Durham:

Creek Road from Rockland to Ramsey’s, and the loops of Creek Road, Garden of Eden Road (old)/Rocky Run, the lower trail along Brandywine Creek from Thompson’s to Rockland, and what we call the “upper trail” which goes across the ridge below the Villages of Rocky Run, the JCC, Tavistock and Edenridge. 

3. What conservation groups have you been a part of?

Bob Weiner:

The Delaware State Parks Trail Steward Program and Delaware Greenways Advisory Committee.

Dee Durham:

For almost twenty years, I served professionally as Executive Director of Preservation Delaware, and of S.A.V.E., a land use, conservation planning and smart transportation advocacy organization based in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  I then served for a year as the Interim Development Director for the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust and for a year as the Grants Manager for the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. In 2012 I was honored with the Chairman’s Award from Preservation Pennsylvania.

In service to the community, I am an active volunteer currently serving on the boards of the Sierra Club Delaware Chapter (past Chair), New Castle Conservation District, Preservation Delaware, and the Civic Council of Brandywine Hundred (which serves as a development watchdog for civic associations among other roles).  I have also served in the past as a board member on many nonprofit boards as well as on Governor-Elect Jack Markell’s infrastructure transition team as well as former Governor Ruth Ann Minner’s Livable Delaware Task Force. Past board service includes Friends of Wilmington Parks, Friends of Brandywine Creek State Parks, Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve, and Preservation Action.

In 2010, Dee co-founded and still co-chairs Plastic Free Delaware because of the blight it is in our communities and natural environments, and its impacts on wildlife. 

Our Question For You: Which candidate displays a personal commitment to conservation that manifests itself by consistent action, service and dedication to the values of conservation and open space?

4. Do you accept money from developers, and/or their associates, for your campaign?

Bob Weiner:

I do not accept money from developers and/or their associates. I am mostly self-funding my campaign.

Our campaign learned that our campaign committee, Friends of Bob Weiner, had inadvertently accepted personal contributions from the owners of a housing project outside of my district. While these contributions are legal under Delaware election law, I have always had a policy of not accepting contributions from active applicants before County Council. I therefore donated the $1,000 to the Brandywine Conservancy to help their efforts in preserving open space.

Here is a video with the check presentation and interview with Ellen Ferretti, Director of the Brandywine Conservancy. To read more about her organization, please visit

Since my first election in 1996, I have also had a policy of not meeting privately with developers or their attorneys. I always require a representative from a local civic group such as the Council of Civic Organizations of Brandywine Hundred  and/or the neighborhood civic association attend any discussions. This engages our local community to ensure the plans are satisfactory to the surrounding neighbors. If early discussions are amicable, I insist that developers hold larger community meetings to explain the project and accept constructive feedback. This practice has eliminated many flawed projects in their early stages due to community opposition and forced developers to make concessions in any projects that are built.

Dee Durham:


5. What personal sacrifices have you made in the name of conservation?

Bob Weiner:

I conceived of and I am leading a New Castle County coordinated initiative to establish a protective strategy for Beaver Valley, the Brandywine National Scenic Byway and Red Clay Scenic Byway Areas, Watersheds, and Villages. 

In 1987, prior to my election to New Castle County, developers had obtained approvals to build houses on 45 acres all along the east side of the Brandywine River.  The housing lots were already staked when the battle commenced. I successfully organized opposition which halted the building of homes along the Brandywine River’s Creek Road. I utilized my expertise as a land use attorney and as CCOBH zoning chair to halt this irresponsible development.  Eventually, the land was transferred to Woodlawn Trustees; and then to the State of Delaware’s Brandywine Creek State Park and our First State National Park.  As the current stewards, it is our duty to preserve our precious open space for the benefit of future generations. 

I continued to protect our open space by sponsoring legislation that required that development of the 320 acres of open space of the current Alapocas State Park (formerly Blue Ball Properties) to be subject to strict traffic restrictions under a level of service statute.  I worked feverishly with our community and Department of Transportation leaders to develop pedestrian and bicycle friendly roadways and underpasses in the Blue Ball Barn area.  This planned pedestrian development brought about the creation of the “Can-Do Playground” and rehabilitation of the historic Blue Ball Barn.

 How we saved Rock Manor Golf Course, Alapocas Park, and Blue Ball Barn from becoming a mega mall. 


A healthy sustainable community must champion both economic development and social equity. My mantra is: “We want to have the option to walk and bike …and drive if we choose… to where we live, shop, work, pray, play, and educate our children.” Continuing to just build roads for cars is not sustainable.


In 2003, Governor Ruth Ann Minner and the Delaware Economic Development Office launched an effort to have an office complex, Access Corp., locate on the 10-acre Channin School site on Naamans Road, but its plan was met with a petition drive, which I organized to save the land and turn into a park.

Our community overwhelmingly supported my opposition to Governor Minner’s plan. Councilman I not only opposed the plan; but countered it with a proposal to preserve the site as open space and provide much-needed soccer fields.

I conceived of the idea to place Concord Soccer Association at Channin School site and Talleyville Girls Softball League at the Old Mill Lane School site. I first sought support from area State legislators and the Brandywine School district, who were initially not supportive… until they saw demonstrated community-wide support.  I developed a steering group of the area civic association presidents and the two league's leaders. I organized extensive public meetings and conducted public surveys of area residents’ preferences. Support for the plan was overwhelming. I was able to empower the community to make this project our own.

Read the article: 


A pathway along Route 100 was initially rejected by our State Department of Transportation because DelDOT only thought in terms of a standard “over-engineered” sidewalk - perfectly straight and much wider than the pathway needed to be.

I know the traffic engineering manual better than many DelDOT traffic engineers. I referenced, chapter and verse, the context sensitive appendix in the manual utilized by DelDOT.

I insisted that DelDOT approve a variance to authorize the builder to construct a meandering context sensitive pathway. This type of pathway undulates with the natural topography and would have no negative impact on the mature trees. This design incorporates the mature trees as a safety and aesthetic buffer.

I was the sponsor of this application; utilizing my legal & government experience to tirelessly fight for our community.

I persisted, even when everyone said it couldn’t be done. Our community ultimately won.

Today you see walkers seeking out and enjoying this Route 100 pathway - a respite under the canopy of the trees.

My next impossible task…whose mission I have accepted: champion context sensitive country road pathways along other portions of our scenic and historic Routes 52 & 100 so that walkers can enjoy the beauty of our treasured byways.


I spearheaded the Talley Day County Bark Park and interconnected trails at Talley-Day Park. Learn more about how we combined three family farms to make a large county park with a special place for our canine friends:[0]=68.ARBt0OtkUkGhODkjPH_U3LObs6rwPrcok1zgxYjkCPFWcb6XvEUAZV0Tld9XNStdLzuosxgzOUuJMCmnt4D_XsfxONarwLkoXcNIRbkJhUKUtCOmRLBRR4nGneCKLGBca72Jn2-out5v0Azc2YWrTEPsSuYtnJSXYrzfFujJCQEo89ddHMAymYw&__tn__=K-R 



I am proud to have played a pivotal role with others to have saved our community DuPont Country Club. 



There are so many heroes along the way... Delaware Greenways, DuPont Company, CCOBH, our county and state governmental leaders... and I am proud to have played a pivotal role with others to have saved our community country club. 

When some of the DuPont Company shareholders initially demanded that the DuPont Company liquidate assets not fundamental to its core mission, I met with DuPont Company leadership to champion preservation of our community country club, so that the legacy of the Dupont family and the DuPont Company would be protected for future generations. Land Use Preservation - not Maximum Land Value - was our passionate goal. Developers, with much more capital, competed with Ben and Don, to buy DuPont Country Club. From a development perspective, the land is much more valuable if developed. However, we were armed with legal expertise and long term relationships in our community. 

The Driving Range is zoned Office Regional, which is ample incentive for well financed developers. Office Regional not only permits high story office buildings but also permits a shopping center on one quarter of the Office Regional zoned land. 

Just a few years ago, traffic studies were no longer required to be submitted to the Public and to County government in advance of a Rezoning Application. I am proud to have been instrumental in changing the law to require traffic studies indicating traffic congestion be part of the decision making process. I was not popular with the then County executive or with many of my fellow members of County Council but I used my legal skill to obtain a reversal of the Stoltz Barley Mill plaza rezoning in the Delaware Supreme Court. It was my testimony alone upon which the Delaware Supreme Court based its reversal of the Stoltz Barley Mill Plaza rezoning. Now with traffic capacity required, developers can no longer hope to develop DuPont Country Club given the traffic overload on Route 141 and our nearby Tyler McConnell Bridge. 

We are surrounded by precious open space here in the Brandywine Valley. Had the land along this east bank of the Brandywine River along Creek Road been developed with homes, the entire Beaver Valley would have been ripe for development. I am proud to have successfully blocked the approved development along the Brandywine River from becoming a reality. The lands I saved now are the center focal point of First State National Park and Brandywine Creek State Park. 

We are surrounded by our Alapocas State Park, Can Do Playground, Rock Manor Public Golf Course and Greenway trails. Had the land not been subject to deed restrictions (which the late Phil Cloutier and I negotiated with hardnosed attorneys for the A. I DuPont Trust which prohibited any development unless there was traffic capacity), the land long ago would have been developed into a Regional Shopping Center. 

We are surrounded by the Astra Zeneca campus, J.P. Morgan campus, Nemours campus and the high paying jobs which support our community. Had I not held up the rezoning of Astra Zeneca pending a $140 million dollar up front commitment from the State of Delaware to purchase and construct all of our area greenways, Alapocas State Park, historic Blue Ball Barn, historic Weldin House, and pedestrian underpasses under Concord Pike - all this precious open space would have long ago been developed. Those deed restrictions that Phil Cloutier and I negotiated along with my refusal to move forward with the Astra Zeneca rezoning, created the leverage we needed to both preserve our scenic and historic treasures here in the Brandywine Valley.

In conclusion, I have made friends along the way but also made some developers angry as well. But although we all have battle scars, it has been a pleasure and honor to fight to protect our community. I hope that with your support come November that I will be privileged to continue to be our County Councilman. 


Wilmington University reneged on its duty to preserve this historic Red Barn. Due to my intercession, Wilmu finally completed repairs to the old red barn on its property at its new campus on Route 202. 


I am spearheading a pathway under Concord Pike, to connect First State National Historical Park to Delaware Law School.

Dee Durham:

My husband, Barry, and I donated conservation easements to the State of Delaware on our two open space parcels so that they will never be developed in perpetuity.

6. Do you think we need more parks and open space in Delaware? If so, how do you propose to achieve that? If not, why not?

Bob Weiner:


 As stated above, I conceived of and I am leading a New Castle County coordinated initiative to establish a protective strategy for Beaver Valley, the Brandywine National Scenic Byway and Red Clay Scenic Byway Areas, Watersheds, and Villages. 

Dee Durham:

Yes, absolutely.  Rarely does paved over or built environments ever revert to green space.  We all need more time outside in nature, and current and future generations need this more than ever as “screen time” replaces outside activities.  Preservation of parks, open space, forest, and farm land protects our water quality, reduces stormwater damage (pervious cover cs. Impervious cover), and enhances/provides wildlife habitat/diversity.  Cost of services study show that land preservation is the land use with the lowest taxpayer cost as it sends no kids to school, does not drive vehicles on our roads, and requires little/no emergency services.  It is shortsighted to ignore these aspects of conservation.

If so, how do you propose to achieve that?

  • NCC has approved a transfer of development rights program but it is non-functional.  A functional TDR program would at least protect open space somewhere in the County when a developer does get a rezoning for higher density. 
  • There is $4 million in the County budget tagged for open space preservation which is not being used for that purpose
  • Political wranglings have prevented the farmland preservation program from being approved and implemented and this needs to be resolved and initiated
  • Improve the UDC to send development to appropriate places and make it more difficult to develop green spaces, provide greater incentives for brownfield development and development of vacant properties.

7. What do you see as the value of open space?

Bob Weiner:

I teach land use growth management to elected officials across the country through my leadership role with the National Association of Counties’ Energy, Environment and Land Use Steering Committee. Permanent open space increases near-by residential land values over three times as much as an equivalent amount of developable open space. This methodology can be used to help inform policy decisions concerning open space preservation, such as effectively targeting certain areas for areas for preservation, or as a means of creative financing of the purchase of conservation easements, through the increase in property taxes, resulting from the associated increase in property values.

Of course, the more obvious response is that parks and open space improve our physical and psychological health, strengthen our communities, and make our neighborhoods more attractive places to live and work.

Dee Durham:

As described above, to me many land planners and developers have things backwards.  Protection of open space is the highest and best use of the land, not intensive development.  Obviously, use of the land needs to be balanced with human needs, but we could be doing so much more to foster more sustainable practices and protection of the natural environment.  We need open space for our mental health, our physical well being for exercise, for enjoyment, to protect water quality, and for production of local foods.

Our Question For You: Which candidate “gets it” and can be trusted to prioritize open space and conservation principles?

8. Do you think Woodlawn Trustees has an obligation to protect the land it currently owns?

Bob Weiner:

Woodlawn Trustees has an obligation to protect the 321 acres of open space it currently owns in New Castle County. The current trustees are violating both their founder’s mandate and their establishing charter.

Dee Durham:

Yes, and doing so is in keeping with Mr. Bancroft’s vision. 

9. How do you think the Brandywine Country Club site should be developed?

Bob Weiner:

I have been instructed by our County Attorney to not declare my ultimate vote. To do so, would deny the constitutional rights of the applicant, whose application is pending.

Having stated the above, I find the current application to be inconsistent with our community character. I am working with CarZ and CCOBH to assure that they are effective. I am collaborating with my fellow County Councilpersons, to assure that they are cognizant of our concerns.

Dee Durham:

At most it should be developed as currently zoned, which is for approximately 150 single family homes.  Anything more is a bait and switch to the residents who live around the property who have thought they lived next to “S” zoning for decades.  In the ideal world, I would like to see at least part of it preserved as a passive community park with walking trails, and/or perhaps community gardens.  More active park usage could possibly have been undertaken by an organization such as Concord Soccer or Naamans Little League if they are in need of more fields.  The school district also requested 15-20 acres to build a new Bush School and this property and location would be an ideal location for that, but consideration was turned down by the developer.

10. Tell us why you are the best conservation candidate?

Bob Weiner:

It is a matter of public record that I am a fighter, a leader and an educator.

I inform our community in advance of contentious rezonings; and then provide all with the applicable legal standards, help chart our challenges and recommend our best path forward.

Under my watch, no major rezonings have been enacted in the Concord Pike Corridor - except for Columbia Place on Garden of Eden Road, a 55 and older community. As residents of Edenridge and Tavistock know, I fought valiantly of our behalf; but we lost the vote after County Council supported the County Land Use Department’s recommendation in support of the rezoning. This was an important lesson learned - only 3 other councilmembers voted “NO” with me.

Learning from my only major rezoning defeat, I have taken a different tact regarding the Brandywine Country Club rezoning. This time I have not immediately come out in opposition to the Brandywine Country Club rezoning.


Instead, I have carefully studied the challenges…listened to my constituents…provided my neighbors with guidance…and initiated constant dialogue over the past two years … as between our community, our county land use department professional planners…and the developer’s legal and engineering team. 

By not declaring vigorous opposition from the outset, I have empowered our community leaders to successfully negotiate significant developer concessions without compromising our bottom line position … that the current Capano proposal is inconsistent with our community character.  Just as importantly, this time around, I have not alienated my fellow County Councilpersons, whose votes of support are needed when this rezoning comes before New Castle County Council.

At this point in time, no one knows if the Capano rezoning for Brandywine Country Club will be approved or rejected. Contrary to the information which you have been provided, history seems to indicate that my fellow Councilpersons will override our concerted opposition to this irresponsible development proposal.  UNTIL COUNCIL VOTES, THIS IS NOT A DONE DEAL!

However, I have continued to learn from my successes and failures over my 30+ year career as a community advocate.

Thus, the course I have charted for our community now is different than the course taken at the time we lost the Columbia Place rezoning.

When fighting irresponsible development, we have to be smart and vigilant. I am not anti-development…I support responsible development. Without responsible reinvestment in our community, we would lose economic viability…our retail centers would become old and abandoned…our home property values would plummet. Economic viability is not ensured for our future unless we responsibly plan for our future.

But responsible development must be consistent with our community character, not overload our infrastructure, be architecturally resplendent and utilize the best construction materials.

We must control our future destiny…which is why I am proud to have successfully spearheaded our Concord Pike Study…where we citizens will work collaboratively with professional planners to masterplan our Concord Pike Corridor of the future.   

Just getting angry and shouting “Enough is Enough” is not enough.  What this grandstanding does accomplish is to alienate my fellow councilmembers, whose votes of support we need.

Ultimately the entire 13 member New Castle County Council will vote on the rezoning and we need to convince a majority of council to vote our way. Until County Council votes, the final outcome will not be known.

The Stoltz Barley Mill Plaza rezoning was overturned in the Delaware Supreme Court for one reason only: because I stated in the record prior to my vote that I was denied access to the traffic study.

Delaware Chief Justice Leo Strine said that the traffic study was not important to Weiner for personal reasons; rather, the information was “objectively relevant to any reasonable legislator voting on the rezoning.”

I do not consider the candidate who is running against me to be my opponent. She is a good person. This election provides our community with the opportunity to become informed and engaged…and hopefully to exercise our right to vote.  

I have been successfully fighting the system for 30+ years and I ask for your vote on November 6th so that I can continue to fight for our community.

Dee Durham:

My passion for conservation and historic preservation is hopefully apparent in my professional and volunteer endeavors.  I am running for New Castle County Council because of the rampant poorly planned, development taking place throughout the area; because our land use is reactive not proactive; because the community has very little say in what is happening in their surroundings; because traffic gets increasingly worse; because the historic preservation ordinance has not been strengthened in more than a decade; because the UDC favors developers not the preservation of community character;  because $4 million in the County’s annual budget for open space preservation is being wasted on other expenses and is not used to protect open space; and because the farmland program has become a political football and needs to be reactivated to protect our farms; because my opponent is on record stating that we have enough parks; and because New Castle County could be doing more to foster sustainability.  I am passionate about changing these things and will work hard to do so, doing everything in my power to make conservation, parks and sustainability a high priority for New Castle County.

Our Question For You: Lastly, which candidate was most responsive to the questions? Which candidate is less likely to engage in “politics” and “spin?”

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Save The Valley is funded exclusively by donations from people like you. Articles like these are critical in keeping the public informed about important issues relating to Beaver Valley but require donations to keep them going. If you find this article valuable, please consider making a donation today. No amount is too small. Your donations are a critical part of keeping this effort going. Please donate today!

If You Found This Article Useful...
Save The Valley is funded exclusively by donations from people like you. Articles like these are critical in keeping the public informed about important issues relating to Beaver Valley but require donations to keep them going. If you find this article valuable, please consider making a donation today. No amount is too small. Your donations are a critical part of keeping this effort going. Please donate today!




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