May 14, 2008
SMART GROWTH
ISSUE BRIEF


ISSUE:
    The Delaware Association of REALTORS® supports smart growth; development that enhances quality of life. DAR believes that policies should be adopted that ensure Delaware's economic vitality; creating good jobs and promoting economic diversity, providing safe and affordable homes where Delawareans live and work, building better communities by adequately investing in infrastructure, schools and public services that provide the framework for a high quality of life, preserving our environment by planning for open space and developing policies to protect clean air and water and protecting property owners' ability to own, use and transfer property.

BACKGROUND:
    Too often, in an effort to provide short term solutions to problems, real or perceived, State and local governments propose unnecessary, over-reaching and burdensome regulations that are not based in sound science or have provided for adequate notice and consideration.

PROPOSAL/IMPACT:
    There are many proposals pending before the 144th Session of the General Assembly as well as several significant new regulations in the process of being promulgated, which DAR believes have not been provided adequate consideration, appropriate notice or, in certain cases, are potentially unnecessary and overly burdensome.

HB 306, OVERLAY ZONES:    HB 306, introduced by Representative Cathcart (R - Middletown) would allow municipalities to create overlay zones. While overlay zones often have an important function, DAR is very concerned that the legislation does not contain any notification provisions. DAR believes that it is not only illegal, but unethical not to provide appropriate notice to affected parties. Without letting affected parties know that rules are to be changed, you are denying them their right to petition, potentially taking away private property rights and certainly putting them in an unfair situation complying with new regulations of which they might be unaware.

STATUS: 
   HB 306 is pending in Transportation, Land Use and Infrastructure Committee. DAR has met with DNREC and a coalition of interested parties to work on notification language.

ACTION: 
   Oppose overlay zone legislation without appropriate notice to affected parties.

HB 344, WIND ENERGY SYSTEMS: 
   HB344, introduced by Representative Oberle (R - Beecher's Lot) would disallow deed restriction or covenants from banning wind energy systems. While DAR supports alternative energy sources, we are very concerned about the bill's likely unintended consequences of undermining home rule. States and localities have zoning laws which address these issues. The bill contains no grandfathering clause; therefore, individuals who have purchased in a particular community because of certain restrictions may be disadvantaged and their property may lose value. The bill also contains no consideration of lot size, nor does it address any safety issues.

STATUS: 
   HB 344 was tabled by the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee and is expected to be re-considered the first week in May.

ACTION: 
   Oppose HB 344 without amendments to address home rule, grandfathering, lot size and safety considerations.

POLLUTION CONTROL STRATEGY FOR THE INLAND BAYS:    DNREC has recently released a revised draft of the Pollution Control Strategy for the Inland Bays. DNREC has proposed the regulations in order to meet the Total Maximum Daily Loads; limiting the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus contaminating the waters of the Inland Bays. DAR has been working closely with the Homebuilders, a coalition of other interested parties and DNREC to produce a proposal that is based on sound science and will achieve its objectives in a way that is fair and reasonable to the citizens of Sussex County. DAR has concerns about a number of issues including expansion of jurisdiction to include forested ditches, septic requirements, many loose definitions and lack of specific criteria for implementation.

STATUS:    The new proposed regulations are due to be published in the May Register of Regulations.

ACTION:    Ask your legislator to support an effort to prohibit any rulemaking on the PCS while the General Assembly is not in Session.