Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Coming New Castle County Housing Bubble

As if we did not learn the lesson following the economic meltdown in 2007-2008 related to the over-extension of credit to home buyers, Chris Coons and his Democratically controlled New Castle County Council ignore the message.  Instead of encouraging buyers to buy the already vacant inventory of homes that buyers fled as a result of the mortgage meltdown, Chris Coons & Company are pushing to have more home built.  Seriously.

In what amounts to backroom deals to strapped developers, Chris Coons & Company are incentivizing developers to build condensed housing neighborhoods with high density homes.  This initiative has been on-going since late 2008 under the name of Workforce Housing.  While this innocent sounding project seems tame, it really is not.

The development projects, many of which were submitted for smaller number of homes, have been modified for higher density of homes all in the name of reaping awards from the real estate transfer tax.  But they are being portrayed by New Castle County government as workforce friendly.   The Southern New Castle County Alliance, via its advocacy site outlines the seventeen projects and how the density changed under workforce housing provisions.   For comparison all seventeen projects were originally zoned for 2,164 homes, but later rezoned by New Castle County to build a total of 4,547 homes.  The crux of this issue is that these homes are being built with any traffic impact studies and bonds by developers to build new schools.

By far the biggest concern with these projects is that although they are to done where workers can have access to jobs and public transportation, neither exist.  In New Castle County, especially in rural Southern New Castle County, public transportation is all but non-existent.  Since all but two of the projects in the Appoquinimink School District are below the C&D canal, this would cause higher traffic density and school crowding.  Appoquinimink School District is already on pace to having to build a new school every year.  And roads in lower New Castle Country rarely are suitable for additional five thousand cars (at a minimum) on the road without having traffic impact studies done (after the homes have already built).
In agreeing to this ordinance, New Castle County Council has failed to engage the State of Delaware in ensuring that these housing developments can be accommodated on the infrastructure we currently have.   And they have shifted the burden of building new roads and schools to the State of Delaware at a cost to every Delawarean.

What the New Castle County fails to understand that while they are chasing transfer tax dollars in hopes of selling these homes, that taxpayers will be on the hook for increased taxes to cover new schools to built and run, and more roads to be built to accommodate this.  And it is that gross negligence by the members of the New Castle County Council and Chris Coons that will cause the most pain.  Clearly, they do not have the interests of the New Castle County taxpayer in mind.


  1. Your link has a typo. It's

  2. Referring to your tweet this morning... I don't think Coons even had the guts to sign it. He just "failed to veto it" so it took effect by default. Probably so he could claim later on that he never signed it.