DelDOT boss proposes regulations

Delaware Department of Transportation Secretary Carolann Wicks is proposing a series of regulations to improve DelDOT’s real estate acquisition policies.

It’s the latest response to a highly-critical report released recently by Gov. Jack Markell’s office that concluded DelDOT displayed incompetence when it made three land deals related to the proposed U.S. 113 bypass.

The report said DelDOT paid developers millions of dollars not to build hundreds of homes in one of the country’s worst housing markets.

Last week Wicks announced the resignation of Director of Planning Ralph Reeb, and the retirement of Chief of Real Estate Wayne Rizzo, effective Feb. 1.

Today’s proposal includes a requirement that advanced acquisitions and reservations be reviewed and approved by the state’s “Advanced Acquisition Committee.”

“DelDOT is moving quickly to implement the specific policy recommendations set forth in the U.S. 113 report,” Wicks said in a written statement.  “Our goal is to make DelDOT’s real estate policies as transparent, consistent, cost effective and fair as they can be. These regulations are an important part of that effort.”

The regulations would also implement the following recommendations set forth in the U.S. 113 report:

Require DelDOT to obtain independent appraisals for reservation agreements as part of the advanced acquisition process;
Require advanced acquisitions and reservations to be reviewed by legal counsel; and
Require that the principal terms of acquisitions and reservations be reflected in a contract signed by both DelDOT and the property owner.           

The public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed regulations until March 5, 2011 after they are posted to the Delaware Register on Feb. 1, 2011.   If adopted as proposed, the regulations will take effect on April 10, 2011.

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