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March  13, 2011

Ordinance would tighten county
redevelopment requirements

County Councilman Robert Weiner said he will introduce a proposed ordinance which will prevent developers from taking advantage of incentives to redevelop property if the property in question doesn't need redeveloping. Draft legislation which he circulated in advance of putting it before Council when it next meets on Mar. 22 would amend the Unified Development Code to limit incentives such as allowing greater density only to  properties that are blighted, abandoned or "underutilized." It would require that at least half of any existing structures be demolished as part of the proposed project and that, if a new kind of use is planned, the  proposal meet the stricter requirements of a major plan as it goes through the approval process.

Weiner previously has accused the Department of Land Use of violating the original intent of the redevelopment section of the code by applying it to such controversial projects as Barley Mill Plaza and the Pilot School site in Brandywine Hundred. The preamble to his proposed ordinance says that the department has allowed its provisions to be used to justify approval of plans involving property that essentially had been previously undeveloped or contained a "fully functioning entity." In an accompanying statement, Weiner said a proposed ordinance introduced by Councilman Joseph Reda at the most recent Council meeting would continue to allow the department to "put the county's official stamp of approval on [such] 'paper' redevelopment."

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