Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

It is as if Comp Lite Never Happened

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Update: As of yesterday (September 28, 2006) Calvin Ball has stated he will withdraw CB75-2006 

Don’t we ever learn?  Seriously, it has been brought to my attention that Councilman Calvin Ball has submitted legistlation CB75-2006.  Apparantly a public hearing has taken place and the Council will vote on this on Tuesday.  I plan to be there.  I want to see how they all vote.  Maybe Gina Ellrich should debate Calvin Ball on zoning.

What is this about?  The bill amends the Charter of the Howard County Housing Commission contained in the Howard County Ordinances from this:

Sec. 13.1315. Planning, zoning, sanitary, and building laws.

(a)   Subject to County Laws:  All housing developments of the commission shall be subject to the planning, zoning, sanitary, health, fire, housing, subdivision, and building laws, or, ordinances, codes, rules, and regulations applicable in Howard County, unless otherwise provided by law. 

(b)   Government Structure:  For the purposes of the Zoning Enabling Act of Howard County and the zoning regulations promulgated thereunder, a housing development that is wholly owned by the commission shall be a use permitted as a matter of right in any business or commercial zoning district. 

to this

Section 13.1400. Planning, zoning, sanitary, and building laws.

(a) subject to county laws: all housing developments of the Howard County housing commission shall be subject to the planning, zoning, sanitary, health, fire, housing, subdivision, and building laws, or, ordinances, codes, rules, and regulations applicable in Howard County, unless otherwise provided by law.
(b) government use: for the purposes of the zoning enabling act of Howard County and the zoning regulations promulgated there under, a housing development shall be considered a government use permitted as a matter of right in any business or commercial district if the housing development is:
(1) wholly owned by the Howard County housing commission;
(2) owned by the Howard County housing commission in partnership with a private entity in order to provide affordable housing controlled and managed by the Howard County housing commission; or
(3) located on land wholly owned by the Howard County housing commission and leased to a private entity in order to provide affordable housing controlled and managed by the Howard County housing commission.

The operative term in this change is “GOVERNMENT USE”.  What does that mean?    Let me refer you to the Howard County Zoning Regulations which in almost every zoning district (as in this case) the following is granted:

Uses Permitted as a Matter of Right

Governmental structures, facilities and uses including public schools and colleges.

This would allow current commercially zoned property, and maybe all property, as long as it is owned or in partnership with the Housing Commission to become high density residential for affordable housing.  More importantly, it would allow the property to be considered a “government use” which allows it to skirt some of the requirements of the normal development process.

Good news.  This is a great way to get more affordable housing.

Bad news.  It is an outrageous skirting of the zoning process.  This is zoning with out public input.

Aren’t any of these people listening?  Calvin Ball where have you been?  This is comp-lite all over again.

I have been told that this legislation targets a specific piece of property “a 2.5 acre property adjacent to Quest Fitness on Route 40/144 although it is another ‘blanket’ legislation that would affect the entire county.  Any commercial property involved in a current or future relationship with the Howard County Housing Commission would be affected by this law. “

Who owns this property?  Let us follow the money trail.

Did you get that?  Not only is it targeting a specific property it will open the flood gates.  If the owner of Normandy Heights Shopping Center sold out to or partnered with the Housing Commission they could put up a zillion low-income and moderate income housing right behind my house without giving me the opportunity to speak out on the issue.  I would have no say what so ever.  Neither would my neighbors, the people across the street, the people up the street in a moderate income development, or you.  Period.  End of story.  “We are the Government this is for Government use we are going to do it now please go away.”

This is not what people want.  Haven’t we heard time and again that people are sick and tired of County Council skirting the zoning process.

As the writer points out this is ill conceived for the following reasons:

  • It allows rezoning outside of the comprehensive process and public review

  • It allows a affordable housing development to be classified as Government use which allows it to skirt the normal process

  • It is blanket legislation written with one property in mind- but affects ALL commercial property in Howard County

  • It allows for dramatic density- not allowed in other uses

  • It creates dense pockets of affordable housing rather than integrating it throughout the community

  • It will have a significant density impact on our Route 1 and Route 40 corridors where the bulk of our commercial land is to be found and where our public facilities are least adequate.

  • It is contrary to the Route 40 and Route 1 Task Force recommendations

  • It sacrifices commercial property tax base for residential

Now didn’t Calvin Ball sign on to and co-sponsor the zoning window dressing legislation that was alleged to have increased citizen input into the zoning process?

Haven’t people been upset about the way comp-lite was handled (illegally).

Isn’t their a process that currently exists to for addressing zoning requests?

Does this bill circumvent those processes and completely ignore the citizens?

Will Gina Ellrich take Calvin Ball to the woodshed on this?  I hope so!

I want to hear him explain this!!!!

Contact your county council member and let them know how you feel.

http://co.ho.md.us/CountyCouncil/CC_HomePage.htm

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4 Responses to “It is as if Comp Lite Never Happened”

  1. Freemarket said

    Are you at liberty to say where you heard that this change was primarily targeting a single 2.5 acre property? This seems like a scary/crazy change to make, I think the motivation for making this change is important. Also, I think I missed who the writer is that pointed out the negatives that you bullet pointed. Was this from a news article?

  2. hocomd said

    This was a heads up from the President of Howard County Preservation. I can’t verify if it is targeted toward the 2.5 acres as alleged. Regardless, it has County wide implications. I am trying to identify the property owner. I have a lead and trying to verify.

  3. Cory said

    After sending all council members a strongly worded email opposing this bill and requesting Councilman Ball withdraw his bill, I received an email from Councilman Ball saying he would be doing just that. He said he will work with the community and next County Council to find ways to provide more affordable housing. Seems like he may have received a large amount of negative input after this bill came to light.

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