Monday, August 23, 2010

Paul Clark, Pam Scott and Stoltz Real Estate Partners

I had never quite put my finger on what bothers me about having our county council president married to a high powered land use attorney until I read yesterday's News Journal piece on opposition to two large proposals by Stoltz Real Estate Partners. The article includes the standard disclaimer from Paul Clark on how he avoids the appearance of a conflict of interest with his wife, Pam Scott:
Because of his wife's involvement in many development projects around the county, Clark said, he stays out of most land-use debates.
In other words, he doesn't do his job. In his defense, he dismisses the consideration of land use issues a "minor function" of county government. It occurs to me that we have never heard Clark and Scott discuss whether she should recuse herself from her job of representing developers going before County Council.

The question for residents concerned about the projects is not how Paul Clark would have voted, but whether they will be able to voice their concerns in a meaningful forum. Since they cannot, Scott can tell residents that her client doesn't care what they think:
At a public meeting in which the crowd spilled into the hallway, Stoltz attorney Pam Scott explained to the county planning board that she and other company officials had not read the proposal.

Board member Victor Udo wanted to know why, noting that more than 200 people had showed up to express opposing views.

"Because it's not [CRG's] place to design how my client should use their property," Scott said. "Just like it's not my client's place to dictate to them how their property should be designed."
I have been involved in some big land use battles in Wilmington and Philadelphia, and have rarely seen a significant project blocked outright. I have seen proposals modified to accommodate the concerns of neighbors. But this requires that neighbors have a forum in which to make their case. Without that, a developer can tell them that their view don't matter.

As for the headline, "Delaware's elite battle developer," Kennett Pike is still a public road, and is used by plenty of folks who don't live in Greenville or Centerville.

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