Good morning all,
News of plans for the former GM Boxwood plant site and nearby areas, as well as Claymont’s former steel mill complex present a rare opportunity for the state and New Castle County to set the stage for responsible fast-track development.
For decades, the state and county have thrown up barriers through well-intended, but cumbersome regulations that can stretch the timeline for even the most desirable project into a marathon.
As I noted earlier, the county has been working on the process, but an overall strategy needs to be devised at both the state and county level.
After all, areas that make take decades to redevelop, getting the first project going is critical.
The state and county have often worked together in moving some projects forward. But the beneficiaries have tended to be well-heeled, well-connected white collar employers with a compelling interest to stay around.
Others may have bypassed the area.
None of this means scrapping pollution and other regulations. Rather, it involves taking a common sense approach.
One could go on and on about the rules and regs that crop up, even in areas that are not undergoing rezoning.
One of the most problematic is traffic. It is easy to imagine that a small group could throw a monkey wrench into the first phase of any development with concerns about congestion.
Traffic studies are largely irrelevant for both Boxwood and Claymont. Both sites formerly had traffic of various sorts and we somehow survived.
Improvements should be made with an eye toward economic development, but none of this should be used as an excuse to delay redevelopment.
The state and county have only a limited array of tools at their disposal, minus the fast track approach. For example, property taxes are already low by East Coast and even national standards.
That makes a fast track strategy vital. The good news is that we now appear to have leaders at both the state and county level who grasp the need for changes.
The question is whether we have a County Council and General Assembly with the same commitment.
I’ll have more to say about this issue in terms of neighborhood redevelopment, transit, and other issues. I also have a lengthier piece that goes into more detail.
Agree or disagree? Let’s get the conversation going. – Doug Rainey, publisher.