receives board support
a six-to-three vote, the Planning Board joined the Department of
Land Use in recommending that County Council enact, after a few
revisions, a pending ordinance granting significant relaxation
of some provisions of the Unified Development Code to
technology-oriented companies that come to unincorporated New
Castle County as a result of expansion of the Army's Aberdeen
(Md.) Proving Ground.
department's recommendation cited the area's long-standing
reputation as "a leader in the concentration of scientists and
engineers" and said the measure would respond to
economic-development objectives in the comprehensive plan by
furthering creation of high-paying jobs.
Victor Singer and members Sandra Anderson and June MacArtor
stressed that their negative votes did not reflect disagreement
with the concept of providing incentives for new businesses, but
had to do with what they saw as shortcomings in the proposed
legislation. "It's a fine idea, but it is not yet mature,"
Joseph Maloney, on
the other hand, said he was not fully satisfied with the
proposed ordinance, but supported it. "As far as I'm concerned
this is a start. You have to start someplace," he said.
the department's assistant general manager, said that objections
raised during discussion at the board's meeting on June 17 could
be dealt with by future amendments. He acknowledged that some
valid points may have been overlooked during the drafting of the
measure. "It was vetted mostly with the chambers [of commerce]
and business folk," he said.
ordinance, which is being sponsored by councilmen Joseph Reda
and Robert Weiner, came out of the county's one-man economic
development office which worked with the land use department to
draft it. The Planning Board was considering a
not-yet-made-public second substitute to the original measure
which contains changes to the introduced version.
latest changes, which constitute
conditions attached to the department and board's
recommendation, would require companies seeking the concessions
to submit, in addition to a business plan which reflects job
creation, a 'diversity plan'. That presumably would spell out
their intent to hire women and members of racial and ethnic
minorities. The proposed ordinance's definition of what it
refers to as "high-wage jobs" would be 10% higher than "current
average per capita income."
the department considered points raised by board members at a
recent public hearing was that income level -- about $50,000 a
year -- and a formula for determining the amount of surety that
a company would have to post based on 10% of its job-creation
requirement. The department report said that it is "comfortable"
with those provisions. "No further changes are necessary," it
previously reported, the only person to show up for the public
Karl Kalbacher, the county's director of
economic redevelopment. It is normal procedure for the
department and board to take written comments apart from public
Maloney objected vigorously when
MacArtor asked some questions at the meeting that had been
raised by the League of Women Voters, of which she is a member.
MacArtor replied that she was seeking information and not
testifying to the merits of the proposed ordinance.
concessions to build a facility with more than 20,000 square
feet of gross floor area would be required to guarantee at least
25 "high-wage jobs" within two years of its completion. Those
who want to build a smaller facility would have to provide 10 or
ordinance could be used by companies involved in research,
product development and testing; those supporting the primary
beneficiaries with engineering, legal, manufacturing or
marketing services; related laboratories, educational facilities
and clinical-research hospitals; and office and retail activity
"accessory to the scientific research and technology
subject to relaxation include density, parking requirements,
traffic studies and buffers. Applications also would be given
expedited review. Haggerty said proposals would have to comply
with existing zoning of the sites, but the proposed ordinance
exempts any required rezoning from having to wait on County
Council's thrice-a-year rezoning schedule.
at the board meeting William McGlinchey pointed out that there
is no provision in in the proposed ordinance which requires that
the jobs be located in the structure that is built or, for that
matter, specifies that they be based in New Castle County. He
said that, while such is implied, it is conceivable that a
company might take advantage of the concessions, which include
among other things greater allowable density, to end up with "a
more valuable piece of property" with no intention of bringing
jobs here. "This is about [attracting] jobs, not companies," he
ordinance is not aimed at "encouraging companies to move their
primary location to New Castle County, but to create jobs in New
Castle County," Maloney said.
objection raised during discussion was that the proposed
ordinance appears to provide development incentives for
companies relocating to the area while not offering the same
advantages to local business that want to expand. Jobs that the
outside companies bring with them would qualify as 'new' while
expansion by locals would create jobs that did not previously
As it now stands,
the measure "does nothing for retaining business," Anderson
Kalbacher testified at the hearing and
Haggerty acknowledged at the meeting that the proposed ordinance
is "geared to new industry and new jobs" and not expansion of
existing ones. The department report referred to New Castle
County's getting its share of the "30,000 new direct and
indirect employment" generated by the Aberdeen expansion.
Aberdeen is referred to in the preamble of the measure, but not
in its text.
Drawing on his pre-retirement
experience working for Thiokol, a defense contractor, Singer
said the proposed ordinance "talks about building long-term
facilities for short-term contracts." Government contracts, he
pointed out, typically do not extend beyond two years and some
are for terms as short as nine months.
Haggerty acknowledged that
businesses and use of their facilities change with time. The
M.B.N.A. Bank complex at Ogletown "didn't last forever [and] the
face of Du Pont [Co.] today is not the face of Du Pont 20 or 30
years ago," he said. Astra Zeneca "built much of what was
proposed" when it received state incentives to locate its
headquarters at Fairfax "but still has a few buildings to go."