MoCo development theory ... and practice
By Bette Petrides
The March 28 editorial “Science and the suburban future” was seriously off the mark. It contends, “What critics mostly miss is that the development plan [for the Life Sciences Center slated for Gaithersburg West] is highly staged, meaning that each new round of building is contingent on major improvements in infrastructure to mitigate the infusions of new workers and cars. ... It could be 30 years or more before the vision of a full-fledged LSC worthy of the name comes to pass.”
While the plans for the Life Sciences Center are long term, no one should assume that the public will be protected because the planning is staged. In fact, both King Farm in Rockville and Clarksburg’s development were contingent on the promise of the Corridor Cities Transitway being built and were considered long-term projects.
Unfortunately, in good times development leapfrogs infrastructure, and when times are tough, planning controls are waived. The result, at least in the case of Clarksburg, has been to make planning in Montgomery County synonymous with irresponsible oversight of development, unfair tax burdens for residents and poor fixes for problems that wouldn’t have occurred if the original plans had been adhered to. Given that record, resident reaction to Gaithersburg West is hardly “overblown” or “theoretical.”
Montgomery County’s new commercial/residential zoning for a similarly large project at White Flint is expected to become a model for revision of the zoning code for the rest of the county. It is also the zone intended for Gaithersburg West. Part of that code limits residents’ input on building that affects their communities. If people don’t protest to protect themselves now, they may never have the opportunity.
The writer is president of Citizens for a Better Bethesda.
| March 30, 2010; 6:44 PM ET
Categories: HotTopic, Maryland, Montgomery County, development
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