The Baltimore Sun

Developers not looking out for residents

As a resident of Elkridge for the past 18 years, I have witnessed exponential growth in its housing market. In fact, If I were to walk into present day Elkridge straight from 1990, I would have trouble recognizing it. While I realize that growth is going to occur, I also recognize that only good governmental policy toward that growth will result in the widest benefit for all citizens.

As a part of that citizenry, I object to the constant harping about affordable housing by the very developers who are content to wipe out trailer parks to build luxury apartments and condominiums. It is particularly difficult to force "affordable" housing into an area where market forces have driven land prices to such historic highs.

The developers know that the housing they build is not really going to be very affordable for that reason alone. They just want to use the banner of affordable housing advocacy to run roughshod over the comprehensive zoning plan. And they do it as relentlessly as possible, to get what they want. What they want is more development - that's what they are in business to do.

The fact that County Council bill 62 is mostly a child of the council members from Columbia speaks volumes about its myopic view of growth policy. Those members choose to live and represent others in the urban environment that they obviously enjoy. That does not represent the views of the citizens who paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for their single-family homes with nice back yards in woodsy suburban settings. They thought they were buying into a specifically nonurban environment. Why should affordable housing gurus and the urban advocates of the newspeak "moderate income housing unit" (MIHU) be able to take away the promise that we had of a quiet little community subject to the zoning PLAN?

Howard County does not need to accelerate the building of new homes of any kind before it builds the necessary infrastructure and amenities. The schools in Elkridge are crowded and the library is too small. Road intersections are becoming burdened. Build some amenities and improve infrastructure before all of the land for it is gone.

The housing "bubble" has apparently burst and affordable housing will be one result of the long downward adjustment in prices. When the houses already built aren't selling, the prices will come down and they will become more affordable.

Let's catch up with amenities and infrastructure before we even talk about accelerating new housing growth. That's not what the developers had in mind, but that's what's best for the comprehensive zoning plan and for the quality of life in Howard.

Ed VanSickle


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