Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What's In and What's Out for 2012

IN -- Business: The Montgomery Business Development Corporation, which is made up of key people from some of the County's most significant business enterprises, delivered its first report to the Council in October and is poised to offer us meaningful advice on how we can better send out the word that we are open for business. 

OUT -- Red Tape: The new family of commercial/residential (CR) zones strip away much of the red tape that has hindered business for decades. Old zones are replaced by clearer, more predictable and more accessible standards. CR zones encourage business to develop in ways that benefit neighborhoods and focus density near transit. They are designed to create interactive streetscapes where people can live, work, shop and play--all within one neighborhood.

IN -- Wheaton: The new Wheaton Sector Plan establishes a vision for future private sector redevelopment of this vibrant and diverse community. We rezoned large portions of the area to encourage mixed use development, including retail, office and residential, while protecting surrounding residential neighborhoods.

OUT -- Disposable Bags: Although I thought there were better ways to approach environmental protection, the Council approved a five-cent charge on paper and plastic bags which will take effect January 1, so bring your reusable bag.

IN -- The ICC: You can now drive from Sam Eig Highway in Gaithersburg all the way to I-95 in Prince George's County on the Intercounty Connector. BWI Airport, here I come.

OUT -- Maintenance of Effort: After years of doing more than required under the State's Maintenance of Effort law for school funding, we decided not to meet the requirement in 2011, deciding instead that we must create a stable, sustainable future for our schools and all County agencies.

IN -- Collaboration: At the urging of Councilmember Hans Riemer and me, Montgomery County and the District of Columbia will explore the possibility of extending the District's planned streetcar system to the Silver Spring Metro Station/Transit Center.

OUT -- Power Failures: Montgomery County has been aggressive in pursuing better reliability from Pepco after learning that that the power company's service ranked in the lowest quartile nationwide. Improvements, including tree trimming, are underway.

IN -- Clarksburg Grocery Store: We approved a limited amendment to the Clarksburg Master Plan that could lead to quicker establishment of a grocery store in Clarksburg, easing longstanding frustration among residents there.

OUT -- Curfew: The Council tabled a bill which would have imposed a curfew on minors. Although this means in effect that the bill does not pass, I would have preferred to take an up or down vote. Unless we decide to reconsider the bill, there will be no curfew.

IN -- Higher Property Values: While housing prices nationwide fell to their lowest level since 2002, median home values in Montgomery County rose 5 percent from $460,000 in 2009 to $483,000 in 2010.

OUT -- Empty Nests: More of Montgomery County's young adults are living with their parents. According to Census data, the number of adult children living at home grew 36 percent in the last decade.

IN -- Marriage Equality: We passed a Resolution in support of Maryland's Religious Freedom and Civil Protection Act, which would have allowed same-sex couples in Maryland to marry. Although the measure failed in 2011, there is reason for optimism in the new year.

IN -- Economic Recovery: The forecast of County revenues is up $79.2 million in FY12 and $36.4 million in FY13. We aren't out of the woods, but this modest improvement is encouraging.

1 comment:

Ingemar Lindahl said...

As a complete outsider on this matter, I still like the In and Out-model. Makes it at least clearer which issues are on the agenda, and an indication of which way you want things to go. Good thinking, and good luck for the new year!!