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County developer that we were actively seeking the court's opinion on the construction permit, which had not been withdrawn, and that we expected the ruling to affect any future development and use of the site.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

02.16 New experimental drug rapidly repairs age-related memory loss and improves mood

02.16 Toxic black snow covers Siberian coalmining region [0:49 video; If its killing us, stop doing it]

02.16 Renewable energy will be world's main power source by 2040, says BP [But in America's capitalistic bubble, bribed-to-be-biased media and government defy reality]

02.16 My generation trashed the planet. So I salute the children striking back

02.16 US coastal businesses hit by everyday impact of climate change, study shows

02.16 What the pesticides in our urine tell us about organic food [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]

02.14 Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence [If its killing us, make it illegal]

02.14 To avoid environmental catastrophe, everything must change [Consider why this headline is laughable or confusing to many, if not most, Americans...]02.13 Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet [2:10 video; Produce and canned vegetables laced with toxic chemicals—from fertilizers and herbicides, too—must be quickly phased out to use safe organic alternatives]

02.12 Biggest offshore windfarm to start UK supply this week

02.12 Scientists Are Totally Rethinking Animal Cognition

02.12 Politicians are complicit in the killing of our insects – we will be next

02.11 'People Shouldn't Be Going Bankrupt and Dying': Nationwide Week of Action Aims to Build Mass Movement Behind Medicare for All [Corporate control of government and media must be limited to allow efficient programs for the public good]

02.11 Sen. Chris Murphy to Doubters: Green New Deal 'Absolutely Realistic' and the Kind of Plan Needed to Avert Climate Disaster

02.11 Plummeting insect numbers 'threaten collapse of nature'

02.10 The truth about big oil and climate change

02.09 The potato solution: how the Guardian switched to biodegradable packaging [Non-recyclable products should be illegal]

02.08 Stripping Social Programs Leads to Lower Life Expectancy

02.08 UK's Met Office Warns Global Temperature Could Soar Beyond 1.5°C Threshold Within Five Years

02.08 Australia can meet Paris targets if government doesn't hinder progress, report claims

News Media Matters

02.16 We Shouldn't Stick Our Heads In The Sand, But We Do It Anyway [26:46 audio; Fear like Trump & Fox News incite makes us avoid unpleasant information we need to know]

02.16 The Realized Temptations of NPR and PBS [With bribed-to-be-biased media and government, we all live in a "Truman Show"-style concentration camp]

02.15 Samantha Bee: Fox News 'soiling themselves over the Green New Deal' [video clips from Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

02.16 ‘A Parkland every five days’: project tells stories of the children lost to gun violence [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]

02.16 Rambling Trump calls an emergency in speech that goes on and on and on [1:42 video; an incoherent president just paraphrases lies and distortion from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh...]

02.16 Calling Emergency Declaration a 'Patently Illegal Power Grab,' ACLU Sues Trump [Empathy and fairness are scarce when your President is a psychopath]

02.15 Bernie Sanders Wants to Expand Social Security

02.15 Progressives Need to Ignore the Noise and Stay Ambitious

02.15 Jayapal Says Medicare for All Bill Coming in Two Weeks as Expert Calls Plan 'Astonishingly Strong' [Corporate control of government and media must be limited to allow efficient programs for the public good]

02.15 To Be Crystal Clear: 'Medicare for All' Does Not Mean 'Medicare for Some'

02.14 Eugene V. Debs and the Endurance of Socialism [28:59 audio to listen via another window as you browse]

02.14 Pentagon Fears Climate Crisis, w/ Billions in Damage to US Bases & Societal Upheaval [In maniacally twisted capitalist countries inconvenient truths are ignored or harshly ridiculed, and Trump's stupid Wall obsession dominates the news instead.]

02.14 What's more offensive: a racist yearbook photo or structural racism?

02.14 American moms: let's stop feeling guilty and start getting mad

Justice Matters
High Crimes?

02.16 Elliott Abrams Defends War Crimes As Happening Back In The ’80s When Everyone Was Doing It

Economics & Corrupting-Capitalism

02.13 The Green New Deal offers radical environmental and economic change [For the survival of life on earth, capitalism must be effectively regulated or banned]

02.12 Climate and economic risks 'threaten 2008-style systemic collapse' [Willfull ignorance of Trump, Republicans, corporate-media and corporate-Democrats is steadfast, if not worsening]

02.11 Trump offers socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else [and the poor will die out like the insects]

02.10 Green New Deal Targets Link Between Trade Policy and Climate Change

International & Futurism

02.15 Who Is Really A Socialist? [Who is really a Republican, etc.?]

02.15 In Germany, the Green New Deal Actually Works

02.14 House passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen [Congress does something good again!]

02.14 Millions Flowed From Venezuelan Oil Firm to Small Bulgarian Bank [Transactions like Manafort performed for Trump. Which Venezuelan political leader is likely behind this—Maduro or Trump-supported Guaidó?]

02.13 As Macron Prepares New Repressive Measures, Yellow Vests and Red Unions Strike Together

02.13 Harrison Ford: leaders who deny climate change are 'on the wrong side of history'

02.13 Nationalist strongmen are bent on controlling women’s bodies

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: