November 11,  2010

Weiner charges department with
misapplying redevelopment law

County Councilman Robert Weiner accused the Department of Land Use of violating the redevelopment ordinance and said he will move to reiterate Council's intent in enacting it.  

Weiner also indicated that he might challenge the provision in the Unified Development Code which requires Council to approve major land-development plans which the department says meet code provisions by limiting its options to returning them to clarify technical points. He said that "clearly violates separation of powers" between the legislative and executive branches of government. "We find ourselves in a legal straightjacket," he said. Councilman John Cartier said he would support a move to "clarify Council's intent," but cautioned that providing incentives to encourage redevelopment of blighted sites increases property values and broadens the tax base. The ordinance "is not totally bad," he said.

At an open meeting of the Council of Civic Organizations of Brandywine Hundred on Nov. 10, Weiner zeroed in on the controversial rezoning of the Pilot School property in his district as an example of the department's granting a developer a profit-generating 'density bonus' at a site which is currently attractive and being used for a beneficial purpose. Nancy Hannigan, a member of the civic association which fought the rezoning, said the department was unresponsive to every point the group raised. "We could read what was written [in the law] and Land Use would rule otherwise," she said.  Weiner, a lawyer, responded that the only recourse was to challenge the rulings in court and that few communities or civic groups have the ability to pay the large fees that requires.

The controversial law "doesn't need amending [because] everything we intended to do when we passed it is already in there [but] the original intent is not being followed," Weiner said.

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Read previous Delaforum article: Controversial Pilot School site rezoning approved

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