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Has a Good WFH Idea Gone Bad?
January 15, 2009

The basic idea was to make enough affordable new housing available to meet the needs of mid-level wage earners – while encouraging construction concentrated in areas where infrastructure was already in place – or committed. This would include streets, sewers, schools, police & fire protection, plus other amenities such as “walkability” to mass transit, shopping and recreation.

Envisioned was a win-win situation for the developer able to build more houses per acre, government to provide services more cost-effectively, and home owners able to enjoy an enhanced level of living.

There would be upfront cost to government in the form of lower impact fees and a requirement for patience awaiting tax income as houses were sold.

Subsequent amendments to the originally proposed legislation allowed building even more units per acre while eliminating the amenities requirements. Predictable, developers rushed in to file plans for new houses, taking advantage of their current opportunity to enjoy greater profitability. Reportedly applications have been made to construct 4,547 new homes in higher density and without the requirement for amenities.

As the General Assembly opens, House Bills 29 and 30 have been introduced to address shortcomings in the county’s Workforce Housing Ordinance. This is the time for citizens and civic associations to contact their councilpersons and ask that proper public hearings be held now, in advance of any further weakening of the workforce housing ordinance.

Chuck Mulholland,
President, Southern New Castle County Alliance


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