I submitted the following written testimony in response to the County Council’s consideration of CB 29-2009. This afternoon the Howard County Planning Board Chair David Grabowski came out against this reckless piece of legislation. Please let me know how you feel on this important issue:
I am submitting this written testimony to advocate against the passage of CB 29-2009, which, in its current state, does not have sufficient safe-guards to prevent against abuse and discordant zoning. Our town centers in many cases also serve as our community centers. If we lose the ability to harmonize these centers in accordance with the original development plan, we risk the possibility of turning community centers into strip malls and Apartment villages.
I do not understand why this Council is preparing to pass a bill that the Planning and Zoning Board was unable to approve. I also do not understand why this Council is preparing to pass a bill for which there are still a multitude of suggested amendments outstanding, with most of the original language proposed by Kimco intact despite such amendments. There is a clear and apparent bull-dozing of this legislation, which will fundamentally change Columbia and our county as we know it.
I am of the mind that our county government does not have to be pro or anti growth. Growth will occur outside of this council chamber without another bill ever passing your desk. What is important is that this council takes action when necessary to enforce responsible growth. This includes taking account of what effects zoning changes will have on the people that work and live in the surrounding community. Examples of irresponsible growth are everywhere in this state. Malls that were originally seen as a commercial boom for the area have become hot spots for violent crime. New developments become ghost towns as we enter into a glut in the housing supply. Not all of these problems could have been predicted or prevented, but the full range of possibilities should have been thoroughly examined before such risk was taken on. I don’t think the county is doing its due diligence here and I am quite sure that harm will result.