Monday, December 8, 2008

Eliminating The Middleman

Members of the County Council, sitting as the planning board, are considering a proposal to give people more say in how Columbia's village centers are redeveloped, according to this story in the Sun.

At stake at a county Planning Board public hearing Thursday night was Zoning Regulation Amendment 102, a measure that would do away with a peculiar wrinkle in zoning law that has helped shape Columbia since its founding.

The so-called "gatekeeper provision" says that only Columbia's main developer can officially petition for zoning changes within the city limits - an area Howard County also calls the New Town district.

Since then, individuals or businesses seeking changes in Columbia's zoning regulations have had to go through the Rouse Co. - or, more recently, through General Growth Properties Inc., the mall company that bought Rouse out in 2004 and owns much of Columbia.

Some people have liked that particular check on the process, reasoning that Rouse-General Growth would want to protect its investment in the new-old town. Except that hasn't stopped several of the centers from languishing of late.

Judging from some of the comments in the story, some folks seem uneasy with the idea of opening up the process to the whims of developers and public sentiment -- which certainly can be a messy process. Democracy can be like that.

No comments: