Daily journal, 09-27-11

A zone is not a master plan! That is my take-away from today’s
lengthy but invigorating discussion of the CR zone rewrite. We are
working on a new family of zones for our commercial-zoned property.
The zone will not replace residential with commercial zoning or
supersede master plan recommendations about heights with zone-defined
heights.

What the zone will do is require many if not most property owners to
negotiate with the planning department over public benefits when they
want to do new construction. Master plans guide the public benefits.
Today many property owners do not have to negotiate at all. This new
approach will make it easier to build good commercial projects with
more public benefits and resident participation near public
transportation.

Daily journal, 09-20-11

Today, two highlights: first, I shared a memo with my committee chair at the Government Operations committee, Nancy Navarro, and my other council colleagues, about some ideas I have for moving ahead on open government issues. I am excited that there is general interest to move ahead on this front and I think we are going to make some real waves. More on that soon.

Second, a briefing that I requested from council staff about the CR zone. I have been following developments at the Planning, Housing and Economic Development committee very closely. The committee members have been working hard on a commercial zone that can make for quality community life and strong economic development particularly in Takoma/Langley, Kensington and Wheaton, where we have master plans up for approval this year. Because these are complex issues and there are a lot of very smart people working on them, the debate has been very contentious. The council received recommendations from the Planning Board for the zone and the question before us now is how much to modify them. The primary issue at hand is that if we are going to spur quality development in these areas of the county that have not shared in the economic progress of, say, the 355 corridor, we have to make that development affordable or else nothing is going to happen.

We are trying to maximize the community benefits while minimizing the barriers to investment. Its tricky.
As always, please share your thoughts or questions and I’ll try to respond.