12.13.10 Another Developer Giveaway @ White Flint

This is cross-posted with the Washington Posts All Opinions Are Local.

A plan to replace the strip malls of White Flint with higher density development has been in the works for some time. This is a good thing.

As one would expect, the giant development corporations that stand to gain handsomely from their investments in the new construction came to the county hat in hand, pleading poverty. Equally expected in this county where development money flows throughout the political process, the politicos have bought the sob story hook, line and sinker. Prodded by County Executive Ike Leggett, they agreed this month to forgive the industry impact fees that would help pay up front for the necessary county-supplied infrastructure (such as roads). Instead, they agreed to public bond financing of the project, with developers agreeing to a special taxing district to reimburse the cost of the principal sometime down the road.

Then, a proposal to require the developers to repay interest on those bonds went down to defeat, 6-3. The only support for the measure came from Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg), Marc Elrich (D-At Large) and George Leventhal (D-At Large). The latter is somewhat of a surprise given his past endorsement of development-industry desires and bodes well for the future. Duchy Trachtenberg (outgoing D-At Large) and Roger Berliner (D-Chevy Chase), erstwhile supporters of common-sense approaches to development, caved to the industry this time.

I wonder two things:

  • What would have been so terrible about calling the developers’ bluff by passing the interest reimbursement measure? If additional sweeteners were indeed required, they could have been revisited later.
  • Where will Hans Riemer (incoming D-At Large) stand when these issues start landing on his plate?

©2010 Keith Berner

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