Does the Presence of Developers Taint the White Flint Plan?

Does the Presence of Developers Taint the White Flint Plan?

Luxmanor, a wealthy community just west of the White Flint Sector boundary, has a lively community list-serve, reflecting its residents’ active participation in the four-year process which developed the White Flint Sector Plan. Some of the most hardened opponents of the Plan live there and post on the list-serve. So do some strong proponents of a walkable, sustainable, transit-oriented White Flint, including Friends of White Flint Secretary of the Board Ken Hurdle, a Luxmanor resident and former head of the Civic Association.

Ken Hurdle in charette

Luxmanor resident Ken Hurdle (center, standing) in 2006 Planning Board Design Meeting.

Recently, opponents were triggered by the 2010 White Flint Town Hall, being held this Thursday at 7:30 PM. Details: www.TownHall.WhiteFlint.org. The Town Hall is focussed on “Neighborhood Mobility Balance,” which is the balance between providing access for communities outside the Sector boundaries to the amenities of the new White Flint while protecting those communities against congestion and cut-through traffic.

The Town Hall features Ian Lockwood, from Glatting Jackson. Ian proposed the new “robust” street network for White Flint, to add mobility while permitting the renovation of Rockville Pike into a boulevard (a design Ian also proposed). Ian has a long record of innovation in “traffic calming” and pedestrian-friendly design. He presented the new mobility proposals at the first Friends of White Flint Speakers’ Series event in May 2009.

Ian Lockwood and the White Flint Road Network

Ian Lockwood at May 2009 Speakers’ Series presentation on White Flint Plan

Yet some on the Luxmanor list-serve have complained that the fact that developers had hired Glatting Jackson means that his work is tainted, even useless. “Caveat emptor,” cried one opponent, noting that she had “snatched” Ian from an earlier design meeting (“charette”) on White Flint to show him her neighborhood. “They’re only out for profit,” wrote another Luxmanor resident.

I wrote a long and detailed response to these claims, ending with an open-ended invitation to all to attend Thursday’s White Flint Town Hall. Among other things, I said:

“But your point about “how the developers’ wish to make the White Flint Sector pedestrian and transit friendly [so they can make a profit when renters come here instead of Virginia]” kind of misses the point. I agree with you that they want to do so because they want to make a profit. But _I_, who have no profit motive at all, ALSO want to make the area pedestrian and transit-friendly. And sustainable. And lively. And bike-friendly. And multi-generational. And I see no other possible way to do this absent the cooperation of the developers. Are you really expecting the MoCo government to do it some other way? Won’t happen. This way, it might. Not because developers want to make a profit, but because people like you and I will watch them and scream loudly if there’s a problem.”

But Casey Anderson, a prominent young community activist (and one of the first members of Friends of White Flint several years back), put it much simpler and better than I did:

“I can understand it when people attack developers for trying to make a profit on development that makes a place unlivable.  But when they try to make a profit by making a place more livable, shouldn’t we support them?  Isn’t this what we want them to do?”

Yes, I think so.

And let me point out that the opponents uniformly say they want someone to address the impact on communities such as Luxmanor. We agree, which is why we’re holding the White Flint Town Hall this Thursday. We want Ian Lockwood to help empower the residents themselves to address that impact.

Please join us. Details: www.TownHall.WhiteFlint.org.

Barnaby Zall

Barnaby Zall

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2 comments

caseybanderson

Thanks for the shout-out, Barnaby!

At 41, I am flattered to be described as “young.”

I suppose these things are all relative — and for too long neighborhood activism has been dominated by people who . . . well, I won’t say they are “old,” but they have even more miles on the odometer than I do.

That’s one of the things that has been really exciting about FOWF: it has engaged with a whole bunch of people (of all ages) who were not previously active in planning issues.

Casey

alester174

The lesson is that people will complain about anything that includes the word “developer”, even if their complaints make no sense what’s so ever.

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