AARP AARP States Delaware

Universal Design Ordinance Passed

Judy Taggart
Judy Taggart, Delaware Executive Council Member, testified at the UD voting ordinance session
Brad Glazier (302) 477-1118

 AARP worked to support the recent Universal Design Ordinance in New Castle County and applauds New Castle County Council for its passage.

On January 8th, Delaware’s New Castle County Council approved a Universal Design (UD) Ordinance that requires age-restricted housing construction (or those substantially renovated) to include the option of UD features for the buyer. 

Universal Design is an approach to home building, remodeling and community development that creates better ease of movement and safety inside and outside one’s home. Features such as lever door handles and no-step entrances and first floor living, all contribute to the ability to access services in one’s home and live there comfortably for many years to come.

Specifically, the ordinance requires the developer to offer the following UD options to consumers as part of the construction:

1 .Step-less main entry;

2. Offset tub/shower controls with adjacent clear floor space;

3. Wide blocking installed in walls around tub/shower and toilet for future grab bars;

4. Lever type door handles;

5. Single lever faucets; and

6. Utilization of minimum and maximum heights for switches and outlets

The ordinance also contains language encouraging ALL new construction to incorporate UD elements.

 It is important for consumers to recognize the cost-effectiveness of employing some universal design features in a newly-constructed home. Retrofitting a home to meet one’s needs can become costly and unaffordable.

AARP members tell us they have a desire to remain at home as long as possible. When an individual has the opportunity to be a part of their long standing network of friendships and community ties, they age happier and healthier. They can benefit from the support of neighbors and friends they trust.

AARP has been heavily involved in this effort for the last 2 years.  AARP contributed to the language in the ordinance, served on the New Castle County Council Aging Subcommittee, has testified multiple times in support of the ordinance, and was recognized by Council members as the main organization behind the effort.  During the process the 13 Council members were educated on Universal Design principles, which will strengthen AARP in future County efforts. 

A copy of the ordinance is available online.

New Castle County is the largest of Delaware’s three counties – containing 60% of Delaware’s total population of 907,000. 


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