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Hillmead Pleased With Council Decision

The Montgomery County Council's decision yesterday not to house a homeless family in a sprawling house in the Hillmead neighborhood of Bethesda has left a lot of hard feelings in its wake, with opponents and supporters trading insults.

But in Hillmead, some residents say they are just glad it's all over.

Harriet Kuhn, who along with neighbor Sue Ghosh Stricklett, proposed almost two years ago that the property be used to add to a local park, said she was happy the property "will be restored to its former state and the neighborhood will get a nice piece of green space."

Adriane Jons, among the most fiery opponents of the plan to put a homeless family in the site, said she thought the neighborhood was being unfairly characterized as anti-poor.

"That's simply not true," Jons said.

Kay Beane, a local Realtor who is Jons' mother, said the community had suffered needlessly because county officials hadn't properly notified them about the possiblity the house could be used for any purpose other than adding the property to the park.

And Planning Board chairman Royce Hanson yesterday reiterated to the county council that his agency never would have spent $2.5 million in county funds to buy the land if officials there thought it would be used for something other than a park.

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who has made affordable housing a cornerstone of his political goals, largely sat on the sidelines, though some of his top officials were trying in recent weeks to work out a compromise that would have torn down the house, had it rebuilt by a local high school or some other non-profit, and used for affordable housing.

At the same time, he would have lopped off most of the 1.3 acre site and added it to the 4-plus acre Hillmead neighborhood park.

Council member Marc Elrich (D-At large) looked at that possibilty, but eventually concluded that it wasn't feasible to break up the property, which sits on a slope, and use it both for the park and for housing.

Here is coverage of the council vote.

By Miranda Spivack  |  June 11, 2008; 6:31 AM ET
Categories:  Miranda Spivack  
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