Live-blogging from the February 24, 2010 meeting of the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee of the Montgomery County Council. Today’s topic is staging, or the timing of implementation, of the White Flint Sector Plan. Staging is critical to the success of the revitalization of White Flint because it helps to ensure that the infrastructure required to support the developments is available at the time it is needed. Having improvements on-time provides the confidence which residents and property owners need to support the billions of dollars in new investments in White Flint.
This is the third hearing on staging. Last week, the Committee decided several issues, but decided to put off final consideration of a staging plan until after it had held another hearing on financing options. Yesterday, the PHED Committee met jointly with the Management and Fiscal Policy Committee to hear more about financing options, but didn’t make any decisions; yesterday’s hearing was principally to receive the County Executive’s views on financing and cost options, which are required by state law.
What was significant about yesterday’s hearing, a prominent observer pointed out to me, was the distance the Executive (who was represented by County fiscal chief Jennifer Barrett) has moved in considering the financing of the White Flint Plan. When first asked, the Executive was very negative, saying, in effect, “this can’t be done.” Yesterday the mood was entirely different: “here’s how we could do it, step-by-step.” And the Committee’s responded in kind, with Council President Nancy Floreen, for example, suggesting that the County work with particular bond counsel (who rule the public financing world) who had positive evaluations.
So today, the Committee should be in a better position to finalize its work on the Plan.