Moratorium Damages County’s Competitiveness and Affordability, Fails to Fix School Capacity Shortfalls

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The Montgomery County Council has the chance to better the County’s future by voting to approve the County Growth Policy

We’ve grown accustomed to the idea that developers are expected to pay a large part of the cost of building schools, based on the eminently reasonable theory that the construction of new housing generates demand for classroom space as families move into the housing, have children, and send them to local schools. If the schools get too crowded, county rules impose a moratorium on the development of new housing until classroom space is made available to “catch up.”

The logic behind this approach appears unassailable. If new housing produces a need for more seats in schools, it follows … Continue reading

Housing Alternatives Needed for County Residents

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First session of Winter Speaker Session focuses on infill possibilities as land becomes scarce for conventional developments.

Here is a question to discuss over your next dinner party: where can Montgomery County fit an additional 87,100 households?

Our county, like many jurisdictions across the nation, has a housing problem. Demand for homes is persistent and space for new dwellings is limited, forcing families to consider too many tradeoffs, such as paying higher housing costs or selecting homes in communities far from their employment.

The good news is that there are solutions to this problem that can be applied in Montgomery County, as revealed in the first session of the Planning Department’s Winter Speaker Series on the Economic Future … Continue reading

Recent Smart Growth Series Focus on Rural Communities (Part 2 of 2)

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Based on a lecture presenting ICMA’s recent report, “Putting Smart Growth to Work in Rural Communities”, the first part of this synopsis summarized the general goals, scope, challenges, and policy principles for a “smart growth” approach to rural community development. Numerous links to various resources are provided therein. The second part of this synopsis will outline more detailed strategies for rural communities based on smart growth principles.

Strategies to Accomplish Goal 1: Economic Support of Working Lands and Conservation Areas

Ensure viability of a resource economy:

Assess taxes based on current use, rather than at its highest market value; Provide tax credits for conservation; Enact right-to-farm policies; Advocate renewable energy development; Allow value-added farm and forest product processing; and … Continue reading

Recent Smart Growth Series Focus on Rural Communities (Part 1 of 2)

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Representatives from the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the Environmental Protection Agency recently presented the results of a study, “Putting Smart Growth to Work in Rural Communities”, at the National Building Museum. As we look towards modifications to our zoning laws, it may be useful to summarize some of their findings.

Smart Growth Goals

Economic support of working lands and conservation areas; Investing in assets to make rural towns thrive; and Creating new stable, sustainable neighborhoods and communities.

Defining “Rural”

Simply put, USDA defines rural by what it isn’t – rural areas are not “metropolitan counties”. This course-grain approach, of course, doesn’t help define the differences between and within Montgomery County’s more urban corridors and nodes, its residential … Continue reading