Question: When is the Development Envelope not the Development Envelope?
Answer: When you call it a Mixed Office and allow public water and sewer and lots and lots of buildings, roads and parking lots on agricultural land.
What is a Mixed Office? It is a designation made by the County Administration and approved by the County Council to build an Office Park at the Route 543 interchange with I-95 on the rural side of I-95.
The actual definition is this: The MO district is designed to promote major economic development opportunities, including corporate offices, research and development facilities and high tech services which create significant job opportunities and investment benefits.
This was how things stood until the Tax Increment Financing bill came before the Council (Bill 12-35). The map of the property in Appendix C of the bill shows the plans for its build out with all the office buildings and some retail to support the office workers and one lodging house for transients clearly marked. Lodging House has a really sloppy definition and as one Councilman pointed out could allow the transient to live there for a year or more. The TIF bill is asking the County Council to approve bond financing of the required infrastructure with the use of the appreciated property taxes as the pay back to the bond holders, rather than the developer paying for the roads and water and sewer, etc.
Meanwhile, back at Planning and Zoning, a new site plan was introduced this July by the developers. They said they had misjudged things and now wanted 12 new additional lodging houses up to six stories tall to be built where the planned offices once stood because they could not market the offices which were the basis of the MO.
But since this new DAC plan had not yet been approved, the bill the County Council received showed only the one lone Lodging House.
At the County Council meeting this past Tuesday, two amendments were approved by the Council. No mention was made of the intended 13 lodging houses.
Yet today, looking at the DAC meeting information page for this site on the County's Planning and Zoning website, it says that the plan for the 13 lodging houses has been approved and is on the fast track.
So the County Council is being asked to approve a bill with obvious incorrect information. To my way of thinking, this is asking the County Council to approve legislation when there is foreknowledge that the bill is wrong. I am extremely disappointed and dismayed that this might happen. A Mixed Office complex has now been turned into either 13 hotels or apartment buildings which definition has been fuzzy enough that no one can explain what it is. And it includes a shopping center for the residents since there are no office workers to provide for. Sound like an office park?
There is no rush to build this. I ask the County Council for the wisdom to return this bill and demand correct and complete information. This is no place for bait and switch tactics.
JoppaCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun