witness from the public spoke at the session on Sept. 2. Linda
Bailey, of the Seven and Forty Alliance, a civic group in the
Bear area, said she isn't opposed to the law, but urged planners
to make sure they carefully consider the effect a proposal would
have on traffic in the area.
like to know where all the concerned citizen are. Why aren't
they here?" said Charles Baker, general manager of the land use
department, noting that the usual group of civic organization
representatives were not present in the Redding Building
chamber. It had been expected that, from their perspective, the
proposed ordinance's provision to bypass formal public
participation in the process of crafting a redevelopment plan
would be controversial.
Councilwoman Karen Venezky, the ordinance's sponsor, expressed
surprise that Bailey was the only one who responded to Planning
Board chairman Victor Singer's invitation for public comment. "I
thought other people were coming," Venezky said.
trust us to do the right thing," board member June MacArtor
be safe from a later charge that it did not consider the public
view in deciding on its recommendation to County Council, which
has the final say on whether to enact the ordinance, the board
voted to 'keep the record open' until just before its business
session, when its recommendation will be determined.
could enact the ordinance as soon as its meeting on Sept. 23.
agreed with Bailey that traffic volume "is the big issue"
involved in the ordinance and, after some prodding by Singer,
acknowledged that leaving it up to the Delaware Department of
Transportation to determine, by its "transportation impact
standards," if a developer should be required to undertake some
traffic-mitigation steps was, indeed, a "relaxation" of the more
restrictive county test involving rush-hour 'levels of service'
at neighboring intersections.
exchange came in the context of his and Venezky's contention
that easing up on Unified Development Code provisions intended
to govern development of previously undeveloped land was
necessary to attract redevelopment of previously used and now
run-down properties. "We are trying very hard to give
inducements," Venezky said.
Delaforum previously reported, the impetus for the new ordinance
was that only six relatively small projects have been
advanced under provisions of the redevelopment ordinance enacted
in April, 2002. The pending ordinance would modify the earlier
one, which is now a section in the development code. As things
stand now, she said, "we have something that isn't working."
law applies to any redevelopment is which an older building is
being replaced or having more than half its floor area replaced.
The proposed one would apply only to 'brownfield' redevelopment.
A 'brownfield' is defined as a property which the state
Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control has
certified as have real or perceived environmental contamination.
presence of such properties is more harmful to a surrounding
community than the effects of having "deteriorated and
deteriorating properties" restored to active and
productive purposes, she said.
accomplish that, however, she said developers need incentives.
"Redevelopment is more expensive than going out and developing
pristine green fields," she said.
federal government policy also favors channeling development
into older areas, she pointed out. The General Assembly this
year enacted legislation which parallels federal law and limits
liability for prospective purchasers of 'brownfields' who are
not responsible for contamination and agree to a clean-up plan.
The state also has other incentives to encourage 'Brownfield'
previously reported, the proposed county ordinance waives impact
fees, reduces landscaping requirements and allows commercial
uses in industrially zoned areas. The key provision, however, is
insertion of a single word -- 'major' -- in the section of the
existing law requiring formal public participation during the
exploratory phase of the land-use approval process.
plan thereby exempted from the process would be anything that
did not add 20,000 square feet or more to the total building
area there before redevelopment. For example, a building
measuring 100,000 square feet could be torn down and replaced by
one of equal or slightly larger size and it would still be
considered a 'minor' project.
project is reviewed administratively within the land use
department and is not subject to public hearings and approval by
testified that, although "the extensive, exhaustive public
process would be reduced," the public would not be entirely shut
out. The department will still receive public comment and
incorporate it into its professional evaluation, she said.