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County developer that we were actively seeking the court's opinion on the construction permit, which had not been withdrawn, and that we expected the ruling to affect any future development and use of the site.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

12.11 This For-Profit College Is Leaving Students With Lots of Debt and No Degrees [It's a Trump University World]

Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

12.15 World leaders are trying to make a climate deal in Poland — despite Trump

12.15 John Kerry: Forget Trump. We All Must Act on Climate Change. [Might he be a candidate for President in 2020?]

12.15 Black lung disease is still killing miners. The coal industry doesn't want to hear it [Trump loves Coal]

12.14 You, Too, Are In Denial of Climate Change

12.14 After 30 Years Studying Climate, Scientist Declares: "I've Never Been as Worried as I Am Today"

12.13 'Whoever You Are, Wherever You Are, We Need You': 15-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Calls for Global Climate Strike

12.12 In Early Holiday 'Gift to Polluters,' Trump Guts Protections for 60 Percent of Nation's Streams, Wetlands, and Waterways

12.12 An Indication of What's Coming': Melting at North and South Poles Worse Than Previously Thought [4:47 video]

12.11 The will of the people is to halt climate change, what about politicians? [Excellent!]

12.11 'We live in a lobstocracy': Maine town is feeling the effects of climate change [Do you care?]

12.11 Protesters disrupt pro-fossil fuel event at COP24 – video [Do you care?]

12.11 'It's a sad reality': a troubling trend sees a 97% decline in monarch butterflies [Do you care?]

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

12.15 What the Hell Is Wrong With Paul Ryan? [”The Saudi check is in the mail.”]

12.15 Scott Walker signs bills to limit powers of incoming Wisconsin Democrats [Immoral people cheat, etc.]

12.15 Paying Congress’s interns a living wage is a good idea. Paying professional staff one is even better.

12.15 Trump science adviser casts doubt on links between pollution and health problems [Consider the ignorant/bribed source.]

12.15 How Republicans are turning US states into labs of anti-democracy

12.14 We read Democrats’ 8 plans for universal health care. Here’s how they work.

12.14 The Senate just passed a resolution to end US support for the Saudi war in Yemen

12.13 Bernie’s Plan for Racial Justice

12.13 'We See You Stephen Miller': White House Reportedly Considering 'Despicable' and 'Racist' Plan to Deport Vietnam War Refugees

12.13 Sanders and Warren Are Challenging the Post–Cold War Foreign-Policy Establishment

12.13 'Stand Up, Fight Back!' Protestors Storm Capitol as Michigan GOP Moves Ahead With Lame-Duck Coup

12.13 'What a Despicable Sham': MSNBC's Chris Hayes Denounces Five House Democrats as 'Cowards' for Helping GOP to Block Yemen Vote

Justice Matters

12.14 The Trump inauguration is now being criminally investigated

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

12.15 Top House Democrats join Elizabeth Warren’s push to fundamentally change American capitalism

12.14 A World That Is the Property of the 1%: Wall Street, Banks, and Angry Citizens

12.10 Tackle climate or face financial crash, say world's biggest investors

12.10 Group led by Thomas Piketty presents plan for ‘a fairer Europe’

12.08 America’s Rigged Tax Collection System

International & Futurism

12.15 Denmark gives new fathers paid leave. Why do so few take it? [Audio clip]

12.14 Coal in, Activists Kept Out at Katowice Climate Talks

12.13 Yemen rivals agree Hodeida ceasefire, UN chief says

12.13 The Honduran Nightmare

12.12 Why women have better sex under socialism, according to an anthropologist

12.10 Smaller Democracies Grapple with the Threat of Russian Interference

12.10 US and Russia ally with Saudi Arabia to water down climate pledge [The Oil Mafias lobby for more insanity]

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: