Business, Opinion, Politics

Councilman Marks: Oppose Moore’s plan for dense development

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The following is an editorial piece from Baltimore County Councilman David Marks.

Throughout the Fifth District, one of the most recurring messages I hear from constituents is about overdevelopment. That’s why I’ve moved quickly in the new Fifth District to preserve open space, protect neighborhoods, and make sure growth is compatible with or communities.

Last year, we blocked the Lafarge Quarry Planned Unit Development, as well as a plan to add hundreds of units to the former C.P. Crane plant in Bowleys Quarters. We have also initiated one of the largest reviews of land ever undertaken on the Eastside as part of the Comprehensive Zoning Map Process. We are proposing to classify more than 3,300 acres as open space and review the development potential of more than another 2,100 acres.

That’s why recent proposals to add more dense development to our suburbs should trigger alarm among every Eastside resident.

Claiming that the state is short 96,000 homes due to decades of underbuilding, Governor Moore is proposing a legislative package that includes streamlining the approval process for construction, increasing financing for affordable housing development, and strengthening renter protections.

Taken together, the package represents an unprecedented attempt to circumvent local authority and shift power to developers and their allies in the state government.

The Housing Expansion and Affordability Act would allow taller and denser developments than what the local zoning allows. In areas zoned for single-family homes, that might mean duplexes or triplexes.

The bill would allow manufactured homes anywhere you can build a single-family home today.

But most alarmingly, the legislation would make it tougher for localities to block developments because of infrastructure concerns, like traffic congestion or school capacity. Think about this: Governor Moore apparently thinks it is “progressive” to cram more students into crowded classrooms, including in the most urbanized parts of Maryland.

The Baltimore County Council is finally taking up revisions to our Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. Now, Governor Moore and his allies are threatening to possibly make this ordinance even weaker. I know our state legislators—Senator Jennings and Delegates Nawrocki and Szeliga—share my concerns.

There are some activists who hate what so many of us value in eastern Baltimore County—traditional suburban development and open space. The Moore administration’s legislation is a threat to our quality of life, and a radical deviation—in one year—from the previous governor who spent frugally and set common sense priorities for Maryland.

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