Two Delaware local governments have moved forward on planning for and establishing TIDs. The following describes how the City of Newark used the process of updating its Comprehensive Development Plan to envision the creation of a TID in its downtown core. The City of Dover moved forward on the creation and implementation of a TID, along a corridor eyed for redevelopment, by amending its Comprehensive Plan.
The City of Newark’s Comprehensive Development Plan serves as its blueprint for growth and development and provides a rational basis for local land-use decisions. To meet the State’s requirement under Section 702 of the Delaware Code Title 22, the City embarked on a two-year process to extensively review and update its Comprehensive Plan. Delaware Strategies for State Policies and Spending, WILMAPCO’s 2011 Newark Transportation Plan, and public input were used to guide and inform the Plan update.
A public participation plan was developed to identify and engage stakeholders, establish an outreach timeline, and schedule a series of public gatherings to gain feedback. A series of neighborhood workshops, public hearings, visioning sessions, open houses, and meetings of the Planning Commission and a Transit Subcommittee were scheduled a various locations throughout the city during the two-year period between 2013 and 2014.
The draft Comprehensive Development Plan V update built a consensus on its community vision to strive for a “healthy & active, sustainable, and inclusive community.” This vision is carried through each chapter of the Newark Comprehensive Development Plan and established the ideal framework to incorporate the concept of TIDs. Several chapters within the Plan specifically advance TIDs as a strategic way to address potential transportation-related impacts of development, including additional infrastructure requirements and associated costs.
The Plan recognizes the need to for the City to coordinate and partner with the State, New Castle County, WILMAPCO, DART First State, and other agencies on growth issues that impact the financing of infrastructure and public services. The Transportation Chapter (as of June 25, 2014) sets forth strategic issues, goals, an action items. Creating a TID as a “comprehensive land-use and transportation plan for the established district” was described as both a top-priority strategic issue and action item. The proposed TID is envisioned as a means to reduce traffic congestion, prepare for infill development, and maximize efficiency of the transportation network. The TID would be located to boost market-ready (re)development within Newark’s downtown core, west of the downtown to anticipate impacts of country club redevelopment, east of the downtown to accommodate additional expansion of University of Delaware’s STAR campus.
Building on its 2011 Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan, this chapter (as of June 3, 2014) sets forth a goal to “continue to enhance Downtown Newark’s physical and economic vitality.” To achieve this goal, an action item is provided to “address traffic congestion through the creation of a TID Downtown and the “Downtown Newark Pedestrian and Streetscape Plan.” The TID and streetscape plan will identify opportunities to increase pedestrian safety at crosswalks while minimizing traffic congestion.
The Land Development Chapter (as of June 3, 2014) reinforces the need to establish land-patterns and a transportation system that achieve sustainable growth. Core land-development principles include providing efficient land use through infill and redevelopment, a connected and accessible transportation system, and targeted business and industrial development. The proposed TID is listed as a “condition affecting development” for future land use within the University/Newark Downtown and West Newark districts. This section recognizes that transportation impacts to new development must be addressed to achieve recommended low- and high-density residential, mixed-urban, and commercial development uses. A TID will plan for transportation improvements associated with increased traffic volumes, infill and redevelopment, and planned areas of commercial adaptive re-use.
The final chapter (as of June 25, 2014) of the City’s draft Comprehensive Development Plan lists a series of action items for plan implementation. Creating a TID is listed as an action item under the Transportation and Economic Development sections. The City submitted the Comprehensive Development Plan V to OSPC for a Pre-PLUS review process and has been recommended for adoption by the Newark Planning Commission and Newark City County in fall 2014.
In 2013, City of Dover officials attended a DelDOT TIS scoping meeting to discuss a proposed development on US Route 13. During the course of the meeting, the City’s Director of Planning and Inspections recognized that the extent of transportation improvements being conceptualized would be massive and would require a substantial investment (possibly over $100,000) for the level of study required.
To plan for transportation improvements, support private-sector investment, and enhance market-ready (re)development opportunities, City of Dover and DelDOT officials proactively initiated the process to implement a TID for the US 13 and Bay Road Corridor area. As a first step, the City discussed the TID concept, obtained input, and received positive feedback from its Safety Advisory and Transportation Committee. In order to enter into a TID agreement and proceed with the detailed traffic study of the area, the City needed to amend its Comprehensive Plan to identify this TID.
The City submitted a preliminary land use services (PLUS) process application to Delaware’s Office of State Planning Coordination (OSPC) and proposed the following Comprehensive Plan amendment:
The constraints of the existing transportation infrastructure along this corridor have created significant challenges to the redevelopment along Route 13 and Bay Road. In an effort to support the goals of the Transportation Plan and support the redevelopment of underutilized properties along the Route 13 and Bay Road Corridors, the City intends to work with the Delaware Department of Transportation and the Dover/Kent County MPO to develop a memorandum of understanding for the creation of a Transportation Improvement District (TID) and to complete the associated transportation study of the area. The plan developed to implement the TID will establish acceptable levels of service and ensure that bicycle, pedestrian, and transit needs are addressed as development moves forward. The TID will create a predictable and fair framework for developers to contribute to transportation improvements, while also identifying projects that may be appropriate for the State’s Capital Transportation Plan.
State agency representatives involved in the PLUS process reviewed the Comprehensive Plan amendment and OSPC approved the plan. The City is entering into a formal TID agreement with DelDOT, which will fund a district-wide traffic study and implementation plan. The results of the TID study will be an important component of the Transportation Chapter of an updated City of Dover Comprehensive Plan. Terms of the TID agreement will establish a funding formula for property owners and developers to pay for their fair share of transportation improvements.
Essentially, TIDs can provide a win-win-win scenario for a Delaware municipality, DelDOT, and private developers. The TID process can make the overall land use and transportation planning process become more comprehensive and expeditious. It can coordinate studies to assess needed transportation improvements, and help ensure that costs associated with transportation improvements are shared equitability among current and future developers.