City Passes Downtown Development Incentives

SALISBURY – An incentive to tempt developers to the downtown Salisbury area by reducing or eliminating capacity fees received its final approval this week after making multiple rounds through the City Council’s dais.
Following many discussions during work and legislative sessions, an ordinance in second reading to eliminate or reduce water or sewer charges for equivalent dwelling units (EDUs) in accordance with Chapter 13.02 of the City Code to encourage development in the Downtown area and the Enterprise Zone reached the City Council on Monday evening.
The final draft of the Ordinance states, “the City seeks to encourage development and redevelopment in the Downtown Development District, the Central Business District, the Riverfront Redevelopment Area, and the Enterprise Zone by reducing the capacity fees for eligible development and redevelopment in the Downtown area by means of an Equivalent Dwelling Unit (EDU) Incentive Area. An EDU Incentive Area will be established for a period of five years, during which 300 EDUs are hereby reallocated from the former Linen of the Weeks property for use in the EDU Incentive Area.”
A developer may submit written documentation to the Director of Public Works to establish eligibility for a project within the EDU Incentive Area if the project meets all of the following criteria:
The project is located within the Central Business Zoning District, Riverfront Redevelopment Zoning District #1, Riverfront Redevelopment Zoning District #2 or Enterprise Zone.
The project must constitute new development or revitalization of an existing building; or a project outside a referenced District but within an Enterprise Zone, which constitutes revitalization of an existing building(s). As well as, the project does not receive a capacity fee waiver for public sponsored or affordable housing.
The project complies, or will comply, with all applicable Zoning and Building Code criteria, as confirmed by the Director of Building, Permits and Inspections.
The project complies, or will comply, with all requirements of the Salisbury Historic District Commission, if applicable, as confirmed by the Director of Neighborhood Services and Code Compliance.
The project is consistent with the adopted Comprehensive Plan of the City of Salisbury, as confirmed by the Director of Planning and Zoning, as well as with the Salisbury Sustainable Community Plan, on file with the Maryland Department, as confirmed by the Director of Community Development.
Particular attention is to be given to the following action plan elements: Supporting existing communities and reducing environmental impacts; Valuing communities and neighborhoods- building upon assets and creating and/or enhancing amenities; enhancing economic competitiveness.
Finally, the project is consistent with one or more of the following benchmark objectives of A Plan For Transformation (2012): Increase the number of permanent, living wage jobs in the City; increase the number of downtown housing units and the associated resident population; increase the amount of commercial square footage in the City; effectively remove 25-percent of the impervious surface area in downtown area without reducing existing building footprints.
After review and upon a favorable recommendation, Public Works shall submit allocation requests from qualified applicants to the Mayor for approval. With the Mayor’s approval, a Resolution will be forwarded to City Council for its approval.
The Resolution for each property will specify that the EDU allocation is valid for two years, with the option to extend the allocation for two one-year terms if approved in writing by the Public Works Director prior to expiration of the term. Allocated EDUs are assigned to a project and to the property on which the project is located, and cannot be transferred by the recipient.
Councilwoman Terry Cohen was not in support of the final result but felt it had come a long way from when the ordinance was first introduced months ago.
“I really have some concerns about how we are doing these reallocations and I would have liked it more if we had a certain amount specified for downtown and the rest specified for other parts of the city so it is very clear. The way it is written right now the other zones are eligible for it, most or all of it could go to downtown and that is not where we are going to see high paying jobs that commercial or industrial bring in,” Cohen said. “I am really concerned about the incentive policies of this city in terms of having a return in investment. I don’t think we would do anywhere near as well as leveraging these types of opportunities as other communities do.”
The council approved the ordinance establishing an EDU Incentive Area in its final passage with a vote of 4-1 with Cohen opposed.