Newspaper logo  
 
 
   HOPPING MAD

'DEVELOPING' PROBLEMS:

HOPPING MAD

by Joan L. Floyd

It is hypocritical for the O'Malley Administration to declare "Neighborhoods First" while routinely refusing to observe laws such as the Zoning Code that were enacted to preserve our neighborhoods and to make us feel comfortable in our homes and businesses.
Early each weekday morning, my row house neighborhood is jolted awake by the relentless beep-beeping of earth-moving equipment. The earthmovers have been sent here to bedevil us by Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse, working for a Howard County developer, rushing to build a high-rise that doesn't belong here.

You might say we're in the last leg of a race to the finish between ordinary homeowners, backed up by the slow but steady Judiciary, and well-financed developers backed up by the O'Malley Administration. Since we, the tortoises in this scenario, have the law and the court on our side, you might think we have a chance to win in the end. But the hares don't stop at legal roadblocks; instead, they hop right over them.

This has been going on for three years, since the City first issued a construction permit that violated the Zoning Code (hop). When we appealed, the Zoning Board dutifully affirmed the permit (hop).

That permit wasn't used because the Howard County developer soon emerged with a new proposal, a massive apartment house that he invited us to reject with no hard feelings. We did reject it, as too large and too disruptive for our quiet two- and three-story block. We also informed the Howard County developer that we were actively seeking the court's opinion on the construction permit, which had not been withdrawn, and that we expected the ruling to affect any future development and use of the site.

The site in question is surplus land from the 1920s construction of our 24 row homes along Howard and 29th Streets. Soon after the houses were completed, the leftover parcels behind them were filled with brick garages.

Now cleared, the site contains less than two-thirds of an acre, enough land to accommodate one single-family house with a two-car garage and a landscaped lawn in parts of Guilford or Roland Park or Mount Washington. Here in Remington, Struever Bros. and the Howard County developer are racing to build a seven-story, 104-bedroom apartment building that will dwarf our modest houses, more than double the population of our block, and turn parking into a permanent nightmare.

And they are doing it on an illegally issued permit (hop). That's right, another one.

We prevailed in court against that first permit. On October 31, 2001 the judge ruled that the City had, indeed, violated the Zoning Code. But instead of appealing, the O'Malley Administration and its agencies conveniently adopted the self-serving position that the judge was "wrong" (hop).

Meanwhile, the Howard County developer wasn't taking our "no" for an answer on his block-busting apartment house. And so the City went ahead and issued him a construction permit that violated the very same Zoning Code requirements all over again (hop). The Zoning Board went ahead and affirmed the permit, even though they knew the court had overruled them the first time (hop). So we are forced to go to the court again, on the exact two-year anniversary of our 2001 victory.

While we crawl toward that date, the hares keep hopping along. Soon crews will start drilling into bedrock under the authority of the illegally issued permit. Because the City Law Department refuses to acknowledge that there is a mandatory stay (hop), Struever Bros. and the Howard County developer are being allowed to build as much as they can before the permit is ruled invalid.

Is this absurd? No question. Is it bad public policy? Absolutely. But this is how our City behaves these days when citizens don't agree with developers.

Of course, the public servants responsible for implementing this bad public policy don't really work for you and me. They work for the O'Malley Administration. And under the O'Malley Administration, neither the citizenry, nor the law, nor even the Judiciary is allowed to get in the way of Big Development

. Many Baltimore City neighborhoods have discovered this. Just look at the number of people who have already been told to leave their homes or small businesses to make way for the O'Malley Administration's development schemes. Others are expected to give up their neighborhoods' best or most familiar characteristics to make developers happy.

The City and its agencies are showing absolutely no respect for the small, tax-paying, law-abiding homeowner or businessperson in the ordinary neighborhood. It is hypocritical for the Administration to boast "Neighborhoods First" and encourage us to commit and invest, while planning to squeeze us out. It is hypocritical to declare "Neighborhoods First" while routinely refusing to observe laws such as the Zoning Code that were enacted to preserve our neighborhoods and to make us feel comfortable in our homes and businesses.

This Administration and its agencies are terribly fond of saying that the Zoning Code is out of date. That's because the Zoning Code doesn't serve the current Big Development agenda. It isn't supposed to.

The purpose of the Zoning Code is not to make developers happy. The official purpose of the Zoning Code is to lessen congestion in the streets; to secure safety from fire and other dangers; to promote health and the general welfare; to provide adequate light and air; to prevent the overcrowding of land; to avoid undue concentration of population; to facilitate adequate provision of transportation, water, sewerage, schools, parks, and other public requirements; to conserve the value of buildings and other structures; and to encourage the most appropriate uses of land throughout the City.

These purposes are valid and essential. They are precisely why my row house neighborhood said "no" to a massive apartment house project.

Saying "no" with the law on our side has allowed ordinary investment to resume on this block. Six houses have been sold, at prices ranging from $45,000 to $130,000 according to condition. The City has collected the transfer tax. Purchasers, including two new resident homeowners, have put money into improvements. Previously empty units have become occupied. This is ordinary progress, the slow but steady kind, for which this Administration and its agencies appear to have no patience.

If the tortoises lose this time, if Struever Bros. and the Howard County developer go ahead and build this block-busting project in spite of the neighborhood, in spite of the law and in spite of the Judiciary, let it stand as a monument to the hypocrisy, atrocious behavior, and miserable public policy of the O'Malley Administration


Joan Floyd is a homeowner on Howard Street in the Remington community in Baltimore City.


Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on September 5, 2003.
  
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

10.17 Could carbon-capture technology be a silver bullet to stop climate change?

10.17 So many animals will go extinct in the next 50 years that it will take Earth at least 3 million years to recover, a study has found

10.16 Can We Go Electric Before It’s Too Late?

10.16 'I leave the car at home': how free buses are revolutionising one French city [with electric or hydrogen buses the cities can be much less polluted and cleaner with far fewer cars]

10.16 Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S.

10.16 Scottish Power shifts to 100% wind generation after £700m Drax sale

10.16 Australia should be 'exporting sunshine, not coal', economist Jeffrey Sachs tells Q&A

10.15 'It'll change back': Trump says climate change not a hoax, but denies lasting impact [1:10 video; comfortable in his willful ignorance and denial, catastropic effects will be sooner and greater for doing nothing]

News Media Matters

10.16 The Growth of Sinclair’s Conservative Media Empire [Distorting news and issues "analysis" almost completely where cable and Internet are least available]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

10.18 Are You Kidding Me?' Outrage as Democrats Push 'Incremental Steps' Over Bold Agenda Needed to Save Planet from Climate Catastrophe [Neoliberals still control Democratic Party leadership...]

10.18 Republicans are ramming through more judges — by holding hearings when everyone is out of town

10.18 Trump says selling weapons to Saudi Arabia will create a lot of jobs. That’s not true.

10.18 Republicans were supposed to run on their tax cuts. Instead, they’re running away from them.

10.18 The new Republican midterm strategy is to copy Democratic ideas

10.18 Beto O’Rourke shows Democrats how to talk about climate change

10.18 The Democrats’ Incredible Shrinking Message

10.18 'Lives Hang in the Balance': 21 Days Before Midterms, McConnell Admits GOP Still Salivating to Gut Medicare and Social Security

10.17 Republican lawmakers react to the IPCC report – ‘we have scientists’ too!

10.16 The biggest political problem in America, explained in one chart

10.16 GOP plan to get Americans off food stamps puts 4 million children and seniors at risk [What would Jesus say?]

10.15  3,121 desperate journeys  Exposing a week of chaos under Trump's zero tolerance

10.15 We need tax police – and they should go after the likes of Donald Trump [growing the mafia-state; to the extent allowed all tax evaded results in additional debt or taxes on honest citizens]

10.14 Goodbye, Political Spin, Hello Blatant Lies

10.14 NEARLY EVERY MEMBER OF THE CONGRESSIONAL PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS STILL TAKES CORPORATE PAC MONEY

10.13 With Campaign Only 'Powered by People,' Beto O'Rourke Shatters All-Time Senate Fundraising Record With $38 Million Haul [nullifying Citizens United—that empowers corporations and the super-rich—with a pledged commitment returns democracy powered by the people!]

Justice Matters

10.18 Is Fraud Part of the Trump Organization’s Business Model? [Obviously!]

High Crimes?

10.18 Nicaragua used 'weapons of war' to kill protesters, says Amnesty International [why refugee immigrants rightly see jail in the US as an improvement]

10.18 How We Can End the Saudis’ War in Yemen [There is NO EXCUSE for War Crimes]

10.12 Israel’s Illegal Blockade of Palestinian Civilians in Gaza has doubled Unemployment to 50% [5:51 video]

10.12 Trump Says Murder Shouldn’t Stop Saudi Weapon Sales Because ‘We Have Jobs’ [Morals and laws be damned! Trump grows his mafia-state for patron and personal profit]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

10.17 Britain fell for a neoliberal con trick – even the IMF says so

10.11 Climate change will make the next global crash the worst

International & Futurism

10.18 Audio Offers Gruesome Details of Jamal Khashoggi Killing, Turkish Official Says

10.18 Khashoggi Is The Tip Of The Bloody Iceberg: 10 More Reasons to Cut the US-Saudi Alliance

10.17 US-China tensions soar as 'new cold war' heats up [the world needs mutually-beneficial moral friendships among nations, not high-risk emotional outbursts]

10.17 US-China tensions soar as 'new cold war' heats up

10.17 Jamal Khashoggi: gory reports of killing emerge as Pompeo meets Erdogan [What explains Trump's opinion and behavior?]

10.16 Our leaders are destroying our future. Wentworth must be a referendum on climate change

10.16 Tax evasion: blacklist of 21 countries with 'golden passport' schemes published [mafia-states are increasing and growing, threatening financial health of non-mafia states where tax evaded becomes additional debt or taxes on honest citizens]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web

Public Service Ads: