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Title 6


Jack Lynch, Editor
APFO Under Attack
State Lands Sale
Water Sourcing
Monocacy River Protection

Title 6

January 3, 2005

It started with a proposal by three National developers to offer $54.7 Million dollars in infrastructure costs in exchange for a signal from the Board of County Commissioners that they will be allowed to rezone and develop approximately 1,400 acres of agricultural land designated in the Comprehensive Plan in Urbana. 

Now two competing offers for school costs as a means to avoid APFO standards are on the table.  Our county planning staff are studying a concept called developers rights and responsibilities.  It would codify these types of inducements to the county.

And the Land Use Council of the Builders Association has proposed a text amendment to the APFO regulations that would allow up to 750 homes per year to be built outside of the APFO requirements.  It’s a multi-pronged attack on fair share of costs and a level playing field by development interests.

We as a community are being asked to forgo a public process of over twenty years duration, with its attendant compromises and safeguards, its controlled and calculated provisions and regulations, to satisfy the private profits of developers. 

Lest any elected official of this community be deluded otherwise, they are supposed to represent the overall public good, maintain the standards and decorum of public policy and decisions, and not allow themselves to be led astray by the dubious vision of growth as a panacea. 

Perhaps we should fear that they do not see their role in this way at all, after all the current County Commissioners have been branded overall by the taint of development interest campaign funding.  They cannot allow a "For Sale" sign to go up on Winchester Hall and expect the long suffering public to stand still for it.

Both the process and fiscal reality cry out for rejection of these proposed 'developers rights and responsibilities.'  But we can expect the usual business interests to come out in force and claim that they represent the public good, in fact, they're probably doing the rest of us a favor by building more homes and offering us more residents, more businesses, and more infrastructure costs! 

But what, you cry foul when your children now must leave their new home and be sent to another school farther away from your mini-mansion?  You bemoan sitting in the traffic on I-270?  Your softball league cannot get a practice field because they're all taken every evening?  You go to the public meetings and ask for managed growth or less development in your area and the consultants and development attorneys swarm over you?  You miss the grove of trees that used to be across the road from you?  And what happened to that farm stand down the road, they’ve posted a land sale sign.

For the proffers, the full costs of the imagined improvements are not even being offered.  They are neither contemplated.  The total impacts are, broadly increased traffic of vehicles, fire and emergency services, parks, nursing homes, and preservation, just to name a few ancillary of the costs associated with new residents and the normal course of government business and services.

Small vocal minorities can control the public process, they woo us with proffers and offers and proposals, they out sit us at public hearings because they're paid handsomely to do so.  They have the ear of the politicos; they sit on the boards and Commissions and get the input they demand.  They profit and we all pay.