Our draft testimony on the proposed new Growth Policy

Our draft testimony on the proposed new Growth Policy

We’d love to know what you think about our draft testimony on the Planning Board’s proposed new growth policy which will replace the Subdivision Staging Policy. Please email your thoughts to info@whiteflint.org or comment on this post.

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 follow comments on the proposed policy.

Moratoria

As you know, stopping development with a moratorium does not actually solve school overcrowding; less than thirty percent of Montgomery County’s growth in school enrollment can be attributed to new development. 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.

We wholeheartedly support the Planning staff 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

Montgomery Planning recommends lowering the impact tax from 120% of the cost of a classroom seat to 100% and lowering it to 60% in Activity Centers which include 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 recommends that developers would have to pay Utilization Premium Payments in areas with overcrowded schools as an alternative to an automatic housing moratorium. For elementary schools, the premium payments would be 25% of the standard impact tax for the School Impact Area. For middle and high schools, the payment would be 15 and 20% respectively. If multiple schools serving the project site exceed the given threshold, then payments would be required for each.

Because the White Flint/Pike District is considered an Activity Center, the highest possible impact tax/utilization premium payment would be 120%. Because this is revenue neutral, Friends of Whit Flint supports these new impact taxes and utilization premium payment.

Recordation Tax

The proposed increase in the recordation tax is progressive — an 11 to 14% boost for homes priced $300,000 to $1,000,000; a 26% hike for $1 million homes; and a 31% rise for $2 million homes. Increased revenue 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.

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

Vision Zero

Planning staff recommends adjustments that better incorporate the county’s Vision Zero goals. This includes increasing intersection delay standards along future Bus Rapid Transit corridors, including Route 355 in White Flint. Friends of White Flint fully supports requiring a Vision Zero Impact Statement that will examine a residential development plan’s transportation impact, and that prioritizes travel safety considerations as a mitigation strategy.

Metro Station Traffic Tests

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.

Amy Ginsburg

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