2011 General Assembly Testimony/Positions

Montgomery County Delegation
Bi-County Bill Hearing, Bill 101-11
December 9, 2010

Zoning Text Amendment – Referendum


Good evening.  Tonight I’m here in opposition to bill 101-11 which would allow zoning text amendments and zoning map amendments to be petitioned to referendum.  In addition to representing the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, tonight I’m also representing the Gaithersburg/Germantown Chamber, the Greater Bethesda Chevy Chase Chamber, and the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce.

MontgomeryCountyalready possesses one of the most thorough and arduous processes in the Country for zoning changes.  Our zoning code is incredibly complex which presents hurdles for both private and public sector property owners that wish to redevelop.   In fact, Montgomery County Park and Planning is right now undergoing a full re-write of our existing zoning code to make it more simple, more user friendly and to promote economic development.

This bill runs contrary to all of these efforts to streamline the zoning code and create predictability in the process.  It would create additional uncertainty and additional delay and is always the case, time is money.  This could have the very stark unintended consequence of letting many properties sit idle, not generating new property tax revenue, because property owners can’t risk the time and money only to be held up by a referendum process.

It is worth noting that under the current process, both zoning text amendments and zoning map amendments can only be made after two public hearings, one at the Planning Board and one at the Montgomery County Council.  In addition to this public input process, expert advice is provided by Council and Park and Planning staff, and votes are taken by both the Park and Planning Commissioners and the members of the County Council. 

While both our County and State governments are doing all they can to grow our tax base, promote jobs and spur economic development, this bill seeks to undue these efforts in the name of additional public process that is simply not necessary. 

Thank you.

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