Residents skeptical of New Castle County "paper redevelopment" ordinance at Planning Board hearing; Weiner also opposes it & introduces tougher alternative - News Journal
Delaware government: Residents skeptical of New Castle County ordinance
May 4, 2011 Written by ADAM TAYLOR The News Journal
A proposal that has been advertised as a fix for New Castle County's "paper redevelopment" controversy was greeted with skepticism by several residents at a public hearing Tuesday night.
"Paper redevelopment" describes the notion that the county has allowed developers of some new construction projects to misuse the code by granting them redevelopment status. Doing so gives the builders perks such as traffic-study waivers and lower permit fees.
The ordinance, sponsored by County Councilmen Joe Reda and Dave Tackett, would clarify language in the redevelopment portion of the county's Unified Redevelopment Code, County Land Use General Manager David Culver said.
About seven residents voiced their opinions, with most saying that they think the ordinance was introduced to help Delle Donne & Associates get approval for their Governors Square III shopping center at Del. 7 and U.S. 40 in Bear.
Residents such as Sue Pierce and Lisa Snyder said that because the only building on the 37-acre site is a small bank that the property should not qualify as a redevelopment project.
Culver said Delle Donne applied for redevelopment status for the shopping center but then withdrew that request, which he said made many of the comments by residents irrelevant.
"I don't know what many of the people tonight were talking about," Culver said.
In a written statement, Councilman Bob Weiner said he opposes the Reda-Tackett ordinance.
The county planning board, which held the hearing on the ordinance, didn't make a recommendation Tuesday. It will do that later this month before the council casts its final vote.
County Executive Paul Clark has not decided whether he is in favor of the ordinance, spokeswoman Angie Basiouny said. He is waiting to hear public comment, as well as the planning board's recommendation.
The only person to support the ordinance Tuesday was Paul Morrill Jr., executive director of the Committee of 100, a business and economic development group.
Morrill said that the redevelopment code always has been meant for old projects that gained county approval but were never completed.
"We believe what has been lost in the recent controversies is the important fact that the redevelopment code was adopted in large measure to promote in-fill development," Morrill said. "Whether a development proposal is adaptively reusing an old building or an old-code plan only partially built, the public good is the same: Growth is being encouraged in an already-developed area where the infrastructure is in place."
The residents who oppose the ordinance asked the members of the planning board to postpone their recommendation on the ordinance because Weiner has introduced a proposal they said would be tougher on developers.
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