When the town approved the waiver of $150,000 in major facility fees on a Cecil Bank owned property at 110 Collins Street and granted the transfer of the credit to a developer building a senior housing project on High Street, it was reported that this precedent setting action supported the town’s “Blight Reduction Incentive Program.” The matter of this new strategy to improve the built-environment in the older part of the municipality first came up on Dec. 9 at the end of a preliminary discussion about the waiver of the assessment. When it was time for the formal approval a few days later, officials talked about whether this was a waiver, transfer, contribution, blight reduction, or something else. As the elected representatives mulled over what to call the the “contribution” they’d already decided to award, some of them remarked that it was an incentive to reduce blight, in line with the new public policy that first came up on Dec. 9.
Since two town taxpayers have now filed a civil action seeking an injunction to halt the waiver, Someone Noticed decided to do a story examining the policy for eradicating depressed areas in Elkton. So we filed a freedom of information act, seeking a copy of the policy for this article. Responding to our request, the town’s public information officer informed us that the policy is still in the concept phase. We assured the official that we were okay with a draft but were advised that it has not moved beyond the idea phase. We’ll thus wait for the officials to write up the blight reduction incentive program to see how it’s going to improve downtown Elkton.