An ambitious plan to develop 675 acres along the Delaware River in Bensalem Township, 20 years in the making, has taken several steps moving it closer to reality.

The Bensalem Township Council passed eight ordinances Monday night, including one creating a Department of Economic Development, aimed at launching what township officials are calling the "River Renaissance in New Bensalem."

"After all these years and all the studies, we finally came up with a real plan," Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo said Tuesday. "As this develops and developers see the opportunities we think are there in that particular area, now they can come in and talk to us."

The approved ordinances created an "overlay district" and a review committee to streamline the application process for developers.

They also established rules for maintaining the historic character of certain properties in the township, created a program to transfer development rights, and clarified approval procedures for conditional uses.

The new economic-development department would identify funding sources and redevelopment incentives, prepare a budget, and coordinate plans within the riverfront district.

The department will have one or two employees who could market the area according to the township's vision, DiGirolamo said. No timetable has been set for the creation of the department.

The department's duties eventually will extend throughout the township, the most populous in Bucks County and one of the biggest in the state.

Township officials envision the development to include housing, open space, walkable communities, and high-tech manufacturing.

610-313-8207 @MichaelleBond