With five members present, the Board of Commissioners approved Resolution 30-16 at its Oct. 12 meeting. The idea of examining other areas of the city that might be considered areas of redevelopment was briefly discussed at the Redevelopment Agency’s August meeting before Resolution 28-16 was adopted.
The city’s redevelopment area is primarily set around the downtown Central Business District (CBD), which was declared an area in need of redevelopment in the early 1990s. “The good news is we’re starting to run out of available properties,” Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Leonard Bier told commissioners at their Oct. 12 meeting. Under the state redevelopment law, it’s the Planning Board that starts the authorization of a study, then the governing body decides if it wants to move forward. “It’s a form of checks and balances,” he said.
“We can’t do the study, only the City Council can approve it. If it’s approved, then it’s under our purview,” Bier said. A redevelopment area could be declared wherever a planner thinks it makes sense, such as St. Georges Avenue or Routes 1&9, but just because a planner thinks so, doesn’t mean City Council will agree, he added.
A redevelopment area allows for the use of eminent domain and provide tax abatements, such as Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT). The process was used in the case of the downtown CBD, starting way back in 1998 when the Central Business District Redevelopment Area and the Lower Main Street Redevelopment Area were created. Over the years, amendments were made to the redevelopment plans until they were combined three years ago in addition to assorted amendments over the years consolidated into a revised redevelopment plan.
In 2008, the Redevelopment Agency briefly discussed the idea of identifying other areas in need of redevelopment.