Montgomery County Council Meeting March 2, 2010; CR Zone passes

Montgomery County Council Meeting March 2, 2010; CR Zone passes

Live-blogging from the March 2, 2010 meeting of the Montgomery County Council. Three relevant topics on today’s agenda: revisions to the Commercial/Residential (CR) Zone; financing of the White Flint Sector Plan; and staging (timing of implementation) of the White Flint Plan.

The CR Zone became a bit more controversial last week, as detailed in a post below, when some organizations suggested that the Zone be revised to increase the amount any development proposal would have to pay to support the Agricultural Reserve. The staff memorandum on the latest changes is available here: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/council/pdf/agenda/col/2010/100302/20100302_8.pdf. The Council discussed the two revisions discussed in the staff memo. One of the sharpest discussions was over the sustainability incentives which the PHED Committee recommended for removal (e.g., stormwater retention, bio-remediation, LEED office building rating). Councilmember Roger Berliner moved to restore the list of sustainability incentives. Other councilmembers pointed to increasing complexity and unending lists of amenities. Councilmember George Leventhal said “Not every worthy goal needs to be achieved through zoning mechanisms.” Berliner noted that the underlying rationale for the removal was avoiding duplication, but the PHED Committee had already handled that problem. Planning Board Royce Hanson pointed out that language could be added to avoid giving incentives for something already required by federal law (such as substantially-increased federal requirements for stormwater management). PHED Committee Chair Mike Knapp said that the Committee was trying to reduce the list of incentives. “These are all lofty goals, but we had to draw a line somewhere, and these were things that didn’t make the list.” Councilmember Marc Elrich said that the┬áremoved items were all things people thought would be in the White Flint Plan. The Council voted 5-4 against Berliner’s motion, but voted to add the language suggested by Planning Board Chair Hanson on federal requirements.

Council President Nancy Floreen then expressed her appreciation for the hard work of both the Planning Board and the PHED Committee. Elrich then said he would not introduce an amendment he had planned on the Agricultural Reserve, which apparently was the BLT issue discussed in the last few days. “So it’s back to the drawing board for those of us who want to extract BLTs, because this is not the end of this.” Elrich then moved to approve the CR Zone bill. The Council voted unanimously to approve the CR Zone.

[UPDATE: Here’s a Washington Post story on the Council action: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/02/AR2010030201791.html?hpid=newswell.]

Barnaby Zall

Barnaby Zall

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