Last week we had the opportunity to present a few brief comments to a Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing, as they work thru their Comprehensive Plan update.
The current draft plan, available at the website www.sussexplan.com., will be the overall planning tool as they move forward with future land use and growth goals for Sussex County.
In one chapter of their draft plan, they echoed the use of density bonuses for developers, in exchange for voluntary preservation of natural resources, especially in Environmentally Sensitive Developing Areas. Though our comments were not confined to these specific areas, we forwarded earlier this year our policy statement to recommend increased density for property owners for the protection of natural resources. Glad to see they saw merit to our ideas.
We also subsequently submitted the recent study that demonstrates how each new home built in Delaware produces 4.25 permanent new jobs in Delaware.
We also noted to Sussex County that our National Association of Home Builders will review the current draft comprehensive plan and offer comments and suggestions.
Last week our HBADE President Jim McCulley appeared before the EPA in Washington D.C. and testified along with our National Association of Home Builders. Although there were other groups present at this meeting, only two representatives from NAHB were permitted to attend – the NAHB staffer and Jim.
The topic of discussion was Waters of the United States (WOTUS). The current administration issued Executive Order to rescind the previous Administration proposed rules and to solicit comments a write a new rule that would be more balanced and reflecting the intent of the Congress and Supreme Court. As such, EPA and ACOE are holding a series of listening sessions and asking for comments from different sectors. As Jim is one of a handful of Professional Wetlands Scientists, he is eminently qualified to present fair, balanced comments that protect our waters while not unreasonably stifling or regulating land development and home building
Additionally, NAHB has been asked to propose a framework for the new rule for consideration and Jim is assisting NAHB Staff with that
said the Washington Post. The House plan to double the standard deduction, end personal exemptions and repeal the deduction for state and local taxes “is a bad bill for the housing sector,” NAHB CEO Jerry Howard told Fox Business.
“All the resources we were going to put into supporting are now going to go into opposing the plan,” Howard told Politico.
The House is set to release its proposal Wednesday. NAHB will continue to keep members informed of its progress. “We will not rest until Congress guarantees us that homeownership will remain as a centerpiece of our tax policy,” said NAHB Chair Granger MacDonald.
We are pleased to announce that the Public Service Commission approved this week a requirement for water utilities in Delaware (Order # 9124) to notify developers and or home builders if there might be offsite costs to the builder/developer to run water service to their new project.
These costs, titled Contributions in Aid of Construction (CIAC) Category 1B, represent the costs (generally, offsite costs directly assignable to a project to run from the project to the utility main) to provide water. The water utility must also provide an estimate of costs, although these costs may change over time.
We have been involved with this matter since early this year, including appearing and testifying at the public workshop. Kudos to our member Kevin Kelly and his firm Leon N Weiner & Associates for their invaluable help on this matter. They were involved with a project that initiated the public workshop, and in fact besides attending meetings and testifying, Kevin prepared proposed language for the final order which was approved by the PSC this past week.
Prior to this new PSC order, there were no regulations requiring prior notification of offsite costs, which in Kevin’s instance amounted to over $400 thousand dollars.
Developers, builders and their engineering consultants are encouraged to review Order 9124 for complete details. We also strongly encourage that you establish early and regular communications with your water utility company especially if the project is delayed. As we noted, the offsite Category 1B costs can change over time.
Download a copy of the order below.
We recently commissioned an economic study by the economists at the National Association of Home Builders, on the economic impact of housing in Delaware.
They prepare two reports:
1. The Economic Impact of Home Building in Delaware: Comparing Costs to Revenue for State and Local Governments, and
2. The Economic Impact of Home Building in Delaware: Income, Jobs, and Taxes Generated
(click each title for a copy of the report)
Did you know that each new home built in Delaware creates over 4 permanent new jobs in Delaware, in the year the home is built. And one additional permanent new job for each year afterwards.
Currently, the process to turn over open space in New Castle County is problematic. This is not meant as a disparaging comment to County land use officials, as the process is widely viewed as needing remediation and improvement.
Toward that end, the Home Builders Association of Delaware is forming a committee which will springboard off a series of workshops the County held, to look at the process so that we can prepare and submit proposed recommended changes to the Code.
A committee will be formed shortly. Anyone wanted to participate should contact HBADE at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week we had 2 special tasks/events which demonstrate how we continue to look out for our members.
First, we will be participating with New Castle County, they invited us and the engineers (ACEC Delaware) to a workshop later this month to help review and update several development requirement checklists (sediment and stormwater submissions, record plan engineering checklist, and retaining wall checklists). By having a say in the checklists, we can help ensure that requirements are fair and reasonable, and help improve the land development plan.
Our other, we attended a Public Service Commission meeting last Thursday afternoon, where they agreed to develop a process and procedure for water companies to notify developers when there may be additional offsite costs related to new projects. These costs, called Category 1B costs, are known as Contributions in Aid of Construction (CIAC), and are the offsite facility costs directly assignable to a specific project. Recently there was a project in which the communications of these CIAC costs did not occur and the developer faced several hundred thousand dollars of unforeseen CIAC costs, after the fact, for a new project. As HBADE and several of our members have been involved with this matter over the last several months, the PSC has agreed to forward a draft of the proposed order for our input.
NAHB Designee and Educator of the Year Nominations:
Members: time to nominate yourself or someone deserving in the NAHB Designee and Educator of the Year. Just a short nomination period but very much do-able.
Nominations and self-nominations may be submitted via the following links:
Designee of the Year: www.nahb.org/DOYnomination
Educator of the Year: www.nahb.org/EOYnomination
Additional nomination information may be found at www.nahb.org/educationawards.
The deadline for nominations is September 15.
A list of past honorees may be viewed here.
In addition, a list of active designees may be viewed via our website at www.nahb.org/designationsdirectory or request a listing by emailing email@example.com.
If you should have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Jaclyn Toole or Crystal Floyd directly at NAHB at (800) 368-5242 ext. 8148 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kent County Comprehensive Plan:
Members be sure to take a look at the Kent County comprehensive plan website and Facebook page, to be in the know! The County updates the story maps every Tuesday.
Another link/location is here.
ACEC/DE Presents Joe Max Higgins:
Members: Our friends at ACEC Delaware are bringing in Joe Max Higgins in early October. You should consider attending this, a great discussion on economic development in Delaware.
Here’s a video of the rebroadcast and the registration info follows.
Click Here to learn more or to register
Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC Issues
Builders and Remodelers – are you finding it more expensive and difficult to get your mechanical subcontractor trades on the job?
Electric, plumbing and HVAC subs members – are you finding it harder to staff your builder-clients jobsites due to onerous and unreasonable licensing regulations, or getting timely inspections?
An issue arose last week that could impact availability and timing of electrical subcontractors to perform timely work for homebuilders and remodelers. And we hear it might be coming to the plumbing and hvac trades as well.
At issue are Delaware licensing laws to allow electrical journeypersons, already licensed in adjoining States, to perform their craft in Delaware of procedural, State requirements.
The issue now is there is that we are in prime construction season and electrical contractors are not able to bring in journeypersons from adjoining states to alleviate the workload on a timely basis. With high demand and a shortage of ready workers (that are otherwise qualified but don’t meet the technical licensing requirements), the result will be higher costs to obtain electrical services. If builders cannot absorb the additional costs, home prices will increase and housing affordability will be lessened.
Look for a member survey from us about electric and plumbing and hvac licenses and inspections. This will help us focus the facts from our members, in order to craft a solution.
Economic Impact Study
THANK YOU to the builders that submitted this month their sales and production data! HBADE has commissioned an updated economic study to demonstrate and codify the positive economic impact that new home building provides for the State of Delaware. We all know that housing is a major driver and fundamental contributor to the local economy, the report will quantify it
As you may be aware, this Spring the State created the Statewide Ecological Extinction Task Force, whose charge is to examine and suggest recommendations to curb the loss of plants and animals which are native to Delaware.
Our member Bob Thornton presented a slideshow last week about the successes and failures of using native plants in Delaware. We are encouraging developers and home builders to specify use of native plant materials in the landscape plans. Native plants encourage and attract native species of animals and critters and will help the ecosystem continue to thrive.
At the next Task Force meeting Jim McCulley will present a list of recommended incentives for greater adaption by builders and developers.