Coastal Zone reforms are on the way

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Good afternoon everyone,

Delaware is inching toward giving the green light to the redevelopment of a small area of the Coastal Zone.

After a lengthy rule-making process that followed the passage of a controversial bill a couple of years ago, regulations should be in place in the fall,  according to a story from Delaware Public Media.

The Coastal Zone Act came about nearly four decades ago in a battle led by  Gov. Russell Peterson to stop a Shell refinery along the coast near Dover.  The act became a point of pride in Delaware.

Some elements of the environmental community oppose any change.  After all, existing industry was grandfathered in and over the years regulators were loose in their interpretation of uses for their property.

Meanwhile, over the past couple of decades, plants closed and in some cases left taxpayers with the bill as well as lengthy litigation for clean-up costs.

Owners of closed plants without major clean-up headaches faced Coastal Zone regulations that essentially barred  new uses for the properties, even if we were talking about technologies or products  with little or no environmental impact.

One example of the dilemma, the Honeywell site, which is located next to the former Sunoco refinery in Pennsylvania.  While the site remains vacant, the sprawling former refinery site has added industry and jobs. 

The Coastal Zone regulations that allow reuse should clear up many of the questions facing potential buyers of sites.

The question is whether time has run out in this economic cycle for redevelopment at some of the Coastal Zone sites.

We should know more this year and perhaps in early 2020 on whether the state was too late in making the needed reforms. One can hope a company or two is waiting in the wings.

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