Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Cumulative Impact of Development

The Delaware Department of Transportation denied a waiver of the requirement that the developer conduct a traffic impact study for a proposed shopping center on a site bounded by Routes 7, 40 and 1. The News Journal reports that the developer's attorney, Larry Tarabicos, complained that DelDOT has granted waivers for other projects in the area:
But Tarabicos maintains DelDOT's decision contradicts the agencys history of granting waivers for traffic impact studies to other developers along U.S. 40 and Del. 7.

"DelDOT hasn't seen a request for a traffic waiver in the Route 40 corridor that they didn't like -- until this one," Tarabicos said.
This provides a good example of the principle of cumulative impact in regulation. If there are already two large shopping centers at the intersection, why not a third? The developer in this case can complain that this project should have been treated exactly like the previous projects, but the real world impact would be to push traffic to the breaking point.

Of course, this project had been helped along by seeking special treatment, such as the absurd request to treat building a large retail facility on a parking lot as redevelopment under County code, and slipping approval through County Council as part of a consent agenda.

The project would have added more than 500 vehicles to the road during rush hour. The first or second 500 vehicles through the intersection may not have led to gridlock, but an additional 500 could. The cumulative impact of another 500 vehicles requires that regulators treat the project differently than they might have a similar proposal twenty years ago.

Public roads are not infinite resources. To demand that each project be given the same approval regardless of the cumulative impact is to ignore the truth that public resources are limited.


Anonymous kavips said...

This was a good move... The developer can cry all he wants; but he was in the wrong on this one.

Chalk one up for good decision making.

4:41 AM, March 12, 2011  

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