Monday, December 15, 2008

what's up the pike: not-so-affordable housing edition

- A guy in Burtonsville wants to rent out his home for visitors attending next month's inauguration for the princely sum of $5000. The home, located in the Saddle Creek neighborhood, offers such amenities as "bathroom Shower", "Living room and reading room in the middel", and "carpet." Meanwhile, rates at the Gaithersburg Marriott Washingtonian Center - the closest hotel to B'ville with a vacancy - were a mere $550 a night.

- In a report presented last week, the Planning Department said they might appeal a court ruling that allows a developer to repurchase land seized by the State Highway Administration in 1997 for an ICC route that won't be used. Located at Route 198 and Peach Orchard Road in the Upper Paint Branch Special Protection Area, the 118-acre site is the "crown jewel" of the Planning Department's attempts to mitigate the environmental impacts of the highway, currently being built south of Briggs Chaney Road. Nonetheless, the Montgomery County Circuit Court says the SHA is required to sell back the property because they won't be using it for the actual ICC.

Winchester Homes, who has built several developments throughout East County (one of which, Fairland View, is pictured) in recent years, had approval to build 130 homes on the property and had started construction when the land was condemned. Unbuilt streets on the site still appear on maps today.

- Over on The Other Pike, our friends at Rockville Central are seeking support for a controversial affordable housing project that's been proposed for their neighborhood. Just steps from the swanky new Rockville Town Square (a place I once worked at, and miss quite, quite dearly), the Beall's Grant II development would bring 109 subsidized apartments to a neighborhood where a one-bedroom will easily run you $1,600 a month.

But, of course, talk of affordable housing can set men's hearts ablaze, with opposition groups claiming that the project will depress property values, create crime, and possibly rape their daughters. (We're kidding on that last part, but who knows if they are.) If you'd like to put your two cents in on Beall's Grant II, the city council's holding a meeting on the development tonight at Rockville City Hall.

1 comment:

Thomas Hardman said...

At least the Beall's Grant II developers have some idea of who exactly it is that opposes their project.

This reminds me of the groups that coalesced in Aspen Hill over the issue of the County licensing and in some cases buying properties here for use as 'group homes', in some cases as "scattered site" housing for formerly homeless people, including assorted single moms, elderly poor folks, permanently disabled mentally ill or brain-damaged people, etc.

Basically, they couldn't block the County through legitimate means, so they settled on a policy of harassment, especially of the folks who were "mental". Some of these people who got housing at these group homes by way of the County had been waiting for as much as ten years, and generally if they aren't so far gone as to be pretty much basket-cases, they tended to make the mistake of venturing out into the community where their stalkers were waiting.

Insane people are easy prey, of course, for groups of people right out of a paranoid's worst nightmare. To make matters worse, almost nobody complaining has been able to correctly attribute motive, and absent motive, pretty much any criminal prosecution will fall apart. Well, here's the motive. Some people just don't want to live next door to people they see as mentally ill or non-physically disabled.

If Beall's Grant II goes forward and gets built, the residents can look forward to probably about the same sort of clandestine backstabbery and skulking-about that dogs the heels of the folks that the County puts into group homes in Aspen Hill. The outcome might be a little different. Stalking and harassing the mentally ill is "easy pickings" compared to trying the same thing on people who might be of low income but who don't mind believing what they perceive, and taking the fight right back to any fools trying to play stupid stuff.

Organized class warfare is a given in any part of MoCo; you just have to expect it.

I personally would tend to oppose any new development if at all possible, we need to realize that we can't keep growing the population and still have a healthy ecology. At least this proposed development is high-density and near mass-transit.