Eastside Councilmen Respond to Mixed-Use Development Bill

-photo courtesy of Baltimore County Republican Party-

Seventh District County Councilman Todd Crandell (R-Dundalk, Essex, Edgemere) Fifth District County Councilman David Marks (R-Perry Hall, Middle River, White Marsh Kingsville) and Third District County Councilman Wade Kach (R-Northern Baltimore County) released a statement in opposition to County Council bill 3-24 Mixed-Use Development.

Dear Baltimore County Citizens:

As elected representatives from eastern and northern Baltimore County, we voice our deep concern and opposition to proposed legislation that would allow high density housing projects without County Council input, review, or approval.
At the state level, the Moore administration’s housing legislation—House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 356—would undermine local authority and make it more difficult for counties to address critical issues such as infrastructure and school overcrowding.
The General Assembly bills would require Baltimore County to implement an “expedited review process” for affordable housing projects as well as an expedited process for zoning changes for such projects, eliminating the people’s local representation from the development review process. In addition, it would enable larger and denser development than what is allowed in the zoning regulations of Baltimore County so long as these proposals include affordable housing. This would be in effect within one mile of a transit stop (light rail, metro, MARC, etc.).
We find it unconscionable that some “progressives” in Annapolis believe that more children should be crammed into crowded classrooms. All students deserve the right to a quality educational environment, which is why we have worked with our colleagues to boost funding for new schools.
At the local level, the Olszewski administration’s Bill 3-24 proposes to concentrate dense development into numerous “retrofit nodes,” as defined by the Master Plan—which the County Council is still deliberating. In our districts alone, there are 14 retrofit nodes all zoned by Business classifications where, should the bill pass, high density housing would be allowed “by right.”
This means that the entire development review process would lie solely in the Executive Branch, circumventing the County Council and the communities it represents. This process would circumvent the Council’s land use authority as granted by the State of Maryland and enumerated in County Charter, and virtually remove constituent input on any proposed development.
While multi-use development may be appropriate in certain areas and not others, the County Council currently has a Planned Unit Development (PUD) process, to approve a project for administrative review should the project not fall under the current zoning requirements.
Each of us follows the same process when a developer proposes a project; we request that the developer engage the community before submitting an application. Once we receive community input, we decide whether or not to introduce legislation to allow the project to move to the administrative review process. We also negotiate, as allowed by statute, a community benefit.
Each of us have rejected some proposals; the few successful proposals have integrated community comments and represent real neighborhood partnerships. Bill 3-24 would remove the Council’s ability to conduct this way of deriving a community benefit and involving impacted neighborhoods before any action by a developer or the county even begins.
The Baltimore County Council has a very active schedule over the next few months, including the likely adoption of an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance to regulate development in new school districts. The county’s mixed-use legislation preempts that discussion, which, in our opinion, must occur first. The Moore administration’s bill is far worse; indeed, the disregard for a strong adequate facilities ordinance is alarming and unprecedented. There is an old saying—if you are stuck in a hole, stop digging.
We urge our constituents to voice their concern and opposition to the proposed legislation and let our colleagues on the Council, the County Executive, the Governor and the State Delegates and Senators know that they want the Baltimore County Council to remain their advocate and voice on land use decisions.
Baltimore County Councilmen Wade Kach (3rd District)
David Marks (5th District)
Todd Crandell (7th District)

B.J. Joseph

Benjamin Joesph has covered news in Eastern Baltimore County since 2006. He started as a reporter with the original East County Times in 2006. He started East Baltco News and later Eastcountytimes.com in 2022.

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