Our County Council testimony on the SSP/New Growth Policy

Our County Council testimony on the SSP/New Growth Policy

As one or two of you may know, tonight the County Council is holding a worksession on the proposed new Subdivision Staging Policy/SSP (now to be called the Growth Policy.) While it’s on very few radars, the SSP/Growth Policy affects development, schools, and transportation, so it affects practically all aspects of life here in Montgomery County.

You can learn more about the proposed policy and watch the County Council hearing live on CCM Channels Comcast HD 996 and SD 6, RCN HD 1056 and SD 6, and Verizon 30. It will be repeated on 9/18/20 at 9:00 pm. This meeting will also be live streamed on Facebook @MontgomeryCountyMDCouncil and YouTube @MoCoCouncilMD

Below is the testimony Friends of White Flint will be giving tonight.

Good evening. I’m Amy Ginsburg, Executive Director of Friends of White Flint.

Friends of White Flint, a nonprofit organization composed of residents, property owners, and businesses, works to transform the White Flint/Pike District area into a vibrant, walkable, transit-oriented community and fulfill the vision of the White Flint Sector Plans.

The new proposed growth policy will have a large impact on the development of the Pike District, and Friends of White Flint offers the following comments on the proposed policy.

Moratoria

As you know, stopping development with a moratorium does not actually solve school overcrowding as the vast majority of new students come from neighborhood turnover of single-family homes. Moratoria also prevent the county from increasing the housing supply and stifles the MPDU program.

Therefore, we wholeheartedly support the Planning Boards recommendation that eliminates automatic moratoria except for Clarksburg. We also support the designation of the White Flint area as an Infill Impact Area.

Impact Taxes

Friends of White Flint supports the recommendation lowering the impact tax from 120% of the cost of a classroom seat to 100% and lowering it to 60% in Activity Centers which includes the Pike District. We support this targeting of impact taxes to encourage transit-oriented development in urban centers such as White Flint and the lowering of the impact tax to 60%.

The Planning Board also recommends that developers would have to pay Utilization Premium Payments in areas with overcrowded schools as an alternative to an automatic housing moratorium. The White Flint/Pike District is considered an Activity Center so the highest possible impact tax/utilization premium payment would be 120%. Because this is revenue neutral, Friends of White Flint supports these new impact taxes and utilization premium payment.

Recordation Tax

The proposed increase in the recordation tax is progressive and would go to school construction and rental assistance for low-and moderate-income households. A million-dollar house would see a $1,400 increase in the recordation tax.

We like that the tax increase is progressive, and we agree that because school capacity issues largely stem from neighborhood turnover, it makes sense that this turnover funds school construction and rental assistance.  That said, we are wary of new taxes in the current economic and pandemic crisis.

Vision Zero

Friends of White Flint supports the recommendation to better incorporate the county’s Vision Zero goal, including increasing intersection delay standards along future Bus Rapid Transit corridors such as Route 355. Friends of White Flint fully supports requiring a Vision Zero Impact Statement that prioritizes travel safety considerations as a mitigation strategy.

Metro Station Traffic Tests

Finally, Friends of White Flint supports the proposal to remove traffic congestion adequacy standards around Metro stations, like the White Flint station, to promote transit-oriented development and recognize the unique requirements of development that lies within the walkshed of a Metro stop.

Thank you for considering our comments as you refine Montgomery County’s new growth policy.

Amy Ginsburg

Website:

One comment

Reg Mitchell

Regarding the Utilization Premium Payments, would those payments go into the county’s operating finances for the following year or would they be targeted to county public school system funds.

Policy planning for the future without an understanding of the economic impact of COVID-19 on our state, not to mention our country in 2021 and possibly the years to come needs to have flexibility built into it if that’s the right word to use. Maryland can’t assume it’s going to get financial assistance from the Federal Govt. We’re going to have to do much more with much less regardless of the outcome in November.

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