July 19,  2011

Council appears ready to enact
a redevelopment ordinance

The county Department of Land Use and the Planning Board recommended that County Council not approve an ordinance proposed by Robert Weiner that would tighten requirements developers would have to meet in order to qualify for incentives under the redevelopment section of the Unified Development Code.

There was a significant difference, however, in the tenor of the recommendations. While the department presented a point-by-point objection to all of Weiner's proposal, the board indicated in a lengthy discussion at its business meeting on July 19 that it wanted both his ordinance and a less-restrictive one sponsored by Joseph Reda and David Tackett tabled to allow it time for further review. However, the  recommendation resolution it agreed to unanimously did not specify that intent.

Reda told Delaforum that he intends to bring his and Tackett's measure to a vote at Council's plenary session on July 26, the last gathering before a month-long summer recess. Supportive comments at a committee meeting on July 19 indicated that there are more than the seven votes necessary for passage.

The department previously recommended that it be enacted while the board voted overwhelmingly to recommend that  it be rejected.

There is said to be no doubt that the Paul Clark administration favors the legislation and that the county executive will sign it into law.

Council President Tom Kovach said that he interpreted a Council rule to require that the ordinance, because it is a substitute for the one originally introduced, go back to the department and board for their comments on what he called "substantive changes" in the new version. As presiding officer he can order such a referral, but a majority of Council members can either overrule his order or suspend the procedural rules. Again, at the committee meeting there appeared to be sufficient votes to do either. Moreover, Carol Duling, Council's attorney, said thatm to the best of her recollection, no substitute legislation has ever been sent back to advisory bodies for a further recommendation. 

In its recommendation on Weiner's ordinance the department criticized the fact that that measure is now a second substitute to its original version. The department report referred to that as creating "a moving target."

It was not clear, though, why it objected to Weiner's substitute legislation when it acknowledges that it drafted the one for Reda and Tackett. The department also drafted their original version. It is not unusual for county operating departments to draft legislation they want enacted or in response to a  request from a Council member.

At the planning board meeting, chairman Victor Singer sought to form consensuses on what provisions in both proposed ordinances that members favored and which ones they opposed. After two hours of occasionally rambling discussion, mainly involving Singer and William McGlinchey, tno such list emerged. Board member Arthur Wilson complained that not all members had an opportunity to offer their views.

One point on which there seemed to be general agreement was opposition to what Weiner has called "paper redevelopment." That refers to 'replacing' what was proposed in a development plan approved long ago but never built. Having that approved as redevelopment would entitle the developer to incentives, expedited review and exemption from strict adherence to the Unified Development Code.

In its report the land use department said reported that 54 redevelopment plans have been approved between enactment of the present provisions in 2004 and early June of this year. There are nine currently pending in various stages of the approval process. At the committee meeting Tackett said that "every redevelopment plan that we have seen built so far has been successful [and] there have been [none] that anyone has said was a disaster."

2011. All rights reserved.