A nonprofit organization earlier this month earned three key approvals from Delaware City Council for its plan to build an apartment complex for people with disabilities.
Del-Mor Dwellings plans to build 40 apartments on about 3.6 acres at 250 Curtis St. and rent the units to people with emotional, mental or physical disabilities. Council on March 12 voted unanimously to approve a conditional-use permit, a preliminary development plan and a rezoning amendment for the project.
Council unanimously rejected an amendment to the city's comprehensive plan regarding the project, but that would not stop the effort from moving forward. Councilwoman Lisa Keller suggested the city wait to change the comprehensive plan until a more-thorough review could be completed.
Keller, who previously expressed "a lingering concern" about the number of units planned, asked Dave Efland, the city's director of planning and development, how the project differed from other residential complexes in the community.
Efland said the prospective clientele of the complex makes it stand out among city developments. While more than one person could reside in each of the complex's apartments, Efland said Del-Mor Dwellings officials have stressed the vast majority of their clients live alone, which could limit the number of residents on the site.
Efland said Del-Mor Dwellings also already addressed the issue of density by removing eight units from its initial plan for the site.
"I think the density here has come down significantly from the original proposal to be more in line with ... multifamily areas in the city," he said.
Keller said the distinctive nature of the complex led her to vote in favor of the project.
"Typically for me, just looking at the bottom-line density number, it would be too high," she said, "but I'm willing to make that special exception in this case because this is so different than your typical (apartment complex)."
Plans for the project sparked lengthy debate among residents across multiple city meetings. Proponents of the complex stressed the need for more supportive housing in Delaware, while opponents questioned its possible effects on the safety of nearby residents and the value of their properties.
The project site sits in Delaware's Second Ward, which Keller represents on council.
Keller said she was "deeply grateful" to the many city residents who came to public meetings to speak about the development. She said all of the residents' perspectives were valuable and helped her to evaluate the project.
"I know that I have learned a lot through going through this process," she said.