Frequently Asked Questions

What boards or commissions does the Planning Department oversee?

City Planning Commission (CPC) - The seven-member commission includes five Mayoral appointments, along with the City’s Director of Finance and the Administrative Assistant to the Mayor. The CPC makes recommendations to the Department of Planning on the following types of actions

  • Capital Improvement Program and Budget
  • Urban Renewal Plans
  • Comprehensive Plans
  • Zoning Map Amendments
  • Zoning Code Amendments
  • Major Subdivisions
  • Street Removals, Namings, Renamings and Dedications
  • Waterfront Development Plans
  • Public Facility Naming
  • City Historic District Designations

Review by the City Planning Commission is initiated through City Council legislation, through the Planning Department or through permit application to the Department of Licenses and Inspections. An analysis prepared by the Planning Department is reviewed by the CPC and a public hearing is held, if necessary. The recommendations of the CPC are forwarded to City Council or the Department of Licenses and Inspections in the form of a resolution. Planning Commission meetings are held on the third Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. For more information, call (302) 576-3109.

Design Review and Preservation Commission (DRPC) - The seven-member commission includes six Mayoral appointments and one ex-officio member of the City Planning Commission or his or her alternate. The DRPC reviews the effects of the following types of actions on historic architecture within the 12 City Historic Districts, two C-6 Zoning Districts, one Neighborhood Conservation District, and within specific sections of the city’s Urban Renewal Areas:

  • Building Alterations
  • Demolitions
  • New Construction
  • Fencing
  • Landscaping plans that affect topography

Review is initiated by permit application to Licenses and Inspections and referred to the Planning Department for approval. A Planning Department analysis is reviewed by the DRPC at their monthly meeting. The DRPC’s recommendations are forwarded to the Commissioner of Licenses and Inspections in the form of a resolution. The Design Review and Preservation Commission meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. For more information, call (302) 576-3113 or (302) 576-3118.

Environmental and Technology Advisory Panel (ETAP) - The 11-member panel is composed of ex-officio City personnel, including the Administrative Assistant to the Mayor, the Director of Planning and Development, the Commissioner of Licenses and Inspections, the Senior Economic Development Advisor, a designee of the Mayor’s Office, the City Solicitor, the Commissioner of Public Works, the Director of Public Safety, the Fire Marshal and two members of City Council. ETAP reviews the environmental impact of new technologies and developing industries.

The 45-day ETAP review period is initiated at the request of the Zoning Administrator. An analysis is prepared by the Planning Department and ETAP recommendations regarding specific development proposals are forwarded to the Commissioner of Licenses and Inspections, while recommendations regarding changes to the Zoning Code are forwarded to City Planning Commission and City Council. ETAP meetings are scheduled on an as-needed basis at the request of the Zoning Administrator. For more information, call (302) 576-3105.

Access Wilmington: The Mayor’s Committee on People with Disabilities - The purpose of the Access Wilmington Committee is to expand opportunities including but not limited to housing, employment, transportation, recreation, public service, architectural accessibility and communications, for residents, workers and visitors with disabilities. In addition, building on past progress, the Committee works with private and governmental organizations to heighten public awareness of the unmet needs, potential contributions and achievements of people with disabilities The Committee accomplishes this by acting in an advisory capacity to the Mayor.

The Access Wilmington Committee is a 23 person committee appointed by the Mayor. It meets the third Thursday of every month at 9:30 a.m. in the City Council Workshop Room, located on the first floor of the Louis L. Redding City/County Building at 800 N. French Street. Meetings are open to the public. For more information call (302) 576-3114.

What long-range plans are available for the City?

Comprehensive Plans - The Planning Department created Comprehensive Plans for the city as a whole and for thirteen individual neighborhoods areas known as Analysis Areas. The Comprehensive Plans, developed with input from area residents, provide long-range goals for each neighborhood regarding land use, zoning, transportation, crime and safety, parks and recreation and historic preservation. The Comprehensive Plans, which are formally adopted by City Council, provide the basis for review and evaluation of proposed development, rezonings and Capital Budget expenditures. For more information, call (302) 576-3111.

Urban Renewal Plans - The Planning Department has developed Urban Renewal Plans for fourteen specific areas in or around downtown Wilmington. The Urban Renewal plans have specific land use goals designed to “renew” these key locations. All major development initiatives in the Urban Renewal areas are reviewed against the stated land use goals to ensure that they are appropriate and compatible with the long-range objectives for the area. Urban Renewal reviews are conducted by the Planning Department and are initiated through permit application to with the Department of Licenses and Inspections. For more information, call (302) 576-3105.

What is a Neighorhood Planning Council?

Neighborhood Planning Councils (NPCs) were created in 1983 to help community and neighborhood organizations address their physical, social and economic needs through a community-wide planning process. Each of the eight Neighborhood Planning Councils, whose boundaries are the same as the City Council districts, serve as umbrella organizations over the neighborhood and civic associations. The Planning Department provides staff support to the NPCs and the elected officers hold monthly meetings with area residents. For more information, call (302) 576-3109.

How can I change the zoning on my property?

Zoning is the designation assigned to each property to encourage appropriate and compatible land use. Each zoning classification identifies specific uses that are permitted or prohibited. In order to use a property for a use that is prohibited under the City Code, the property owner must apply for a change in the zoning through the City Clerk’s Office. This request is analyzed by the Planning Department and is presented to the City Planning Commission for review and a public hearing at their monthly meeting, which is held on the third Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. The recommendations of the City Planning Commission are forwarded to City Council for their consideration following a public hearing. For more information, call (302) 576-3100.

What other reviews does the Planning Department perform?

Minor Subdivision - Minor subdivisions are reviewed in-house by Planning Department staff to evaluate the subdivision, especially with regard to the Zoning Code requirements. Review is initiated through permit application to the Department of Licenses and Inspections or by direct application to the Planning Department. Planning Department review utilizes a standard checklist/sign-off sheet, which is forwarded to the Department of Licenses and Inspections. For more information, call (302) 576-3102.

Major Subdivision - Subdivision requests for sites larger than 2.5 acres, located within a flood plain, surrounded on all sides by streets or a park, or involving a condominium declaration are analyzed by the Planning Department and referred to the City Planning Commission for review. Subdivision materials must be submitted two weeks prior to the City Planning Commission meeting, which is held on the third Tuesday of each month. Approved subdivision plans are signed by the Director of Planning. For more information, call (302) 576-3102.

Curb Cut Review is performed for the construction or renovation of commercial, industrial or multi-family residential uses that will require a certificate of occupancy. The in-house review is initiated through permit application to the Department of Licenses and Inspections and is performed jointly by the Planning Department and Public Works Department as part of the site plan review process to identify potential adverse effects on parking and pedestrian/motor circulation. The Planning and Public Works reviews are conducted through the use of a standard checklist/sign off sheet, which is forwarded to Licenses and Inspections. Coordination by the applicant with DelDOT occurs when adjacent rights-of-way are state owned or maintained. For more information, call (302) 576-3102.

Parking Lot Landscaping Review is performed in-house by staff from the Planning Department when any commercial surface parking lot or accessory parking lot of five spaces or greater is proposed in any zoning district other than M1, M2 or the waterfront districts. Newly constructed lots and existing lots proposed for expansion must comply with the landscaping standards, which call for planted buffers and street trees along adjacent public rights-of-way, as well as for interior lot landscaping provisions. Parking garages are also subject to review. Review is typically initiated through the L&I permit application process. For more information, call (302) 576-3105.

Waterfront Development Review is conducted in-house by the Planning Department staff, to evaluate all proposed plans for development within any waterfront district. Plans are evaluated for compliance with the waterfront standards according to established criteria for design, river activity and economic development. Review is typically initiated through the L&I permit application process. Proposals involving a special exception use are forwarded to the City Planning Commission, whose recommendations are sent to the Zoning Board of Adjustment in the form of a resolution. There is no fee for this review. For more information, call (302) 576-3105.

Demolition Review is conducted by the Planning Department to evaluate the impact of a demolition proposal on historic resources. Review is initiated through permit application to the Department of Licenses and Inspections and is performed by the City’s Historic Preservation Planner and Design Review and Preservation Commission staffperson. Review evaluates a property’s significance based on its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, an existing City Historic District or an Urban Renewal area. These findings are forwarded to the Commissioner of Licenses and Inspections within ten working days. In the event of historically significant resources, demolition reviews are referred to the Design Review and Preservation Commission, whose meetings are held on the third Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. DRPC findings are forwarded to the Department of Licenses and Inspections in the form of a resolution. For more information, call (302) 576-3113 or (302) 576-3118.

Is my house in a historic district?

There are two levels of designation for properties having historic, architectural, cultural and/or archaeological significance: the National Register of Historic Places is a federal designation, while the Wilmington City Historic Districts are a local designation.

The National Register of Historic Places is based on a comprehensive survey of Wilmington’s architecture. There are 14 districts and 57 individual sites are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This federal listing recognizes districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture. While listing on the National Register does not limit what a private property owner can do with a site, it does allow for the review of the impact of federally funded projects on a site and makes them eligible for certain federal, state and city tax benefits. For more information, call (302) 576-3107.

City Historic District legislation was introduced in 1974 to designate special areas in the city with outstanding historical, architectural, cultural and/or archaeological significance. Designation of the 120City Historic Districts was based on the National Register districts. Maps showing the boundaries of these districts are available from the Planning Department or on the City Historic District page of this website at www.WilmingtonDE.gov/government/historicdistricts. Specialized review procedures, design standards and a Design Review and Preservation Commission were established to monitor all exterior alterations, new construction and demolitions within the districts. Review is initiated through permit application to the Department of Licenses and Inspections. An analysis prepared by the Planning Department is referred to the Design Review and Preservation Commission for review at their monthly meeting, held on the third Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. For more information, call (302) 576-3113 or (302) 576-3118.


Contact Planning

Mailing Address:
Department of Planning and Development
Louis L. Redding City/County Building
800 N. French Street, 7th Floor
Wilmington DE 19801

Phone:
(302) 576-3100

Fax:
(302) 571-4119

City Planning Commission:
(302) 576-3100

Design Review and Preservation Commission:
(302) 576-3113

Neigborhood Planning Councils:
(302) 576-3109