Builders: Prince George's CB 80 is selling the County short

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By Thomas M. Farasy
President, Maryland State Builders Association

The building industry supports the Clean Up of the Chesapeake Bay. As part of that support, the building industry supported the stormwater legislation in 2007 and when the regulations were being promulgated, we supported the regulations with comments. Over the past year, we worked with a task force that included industry and environmental groups to finalize the regulations that joint effort resulted in the adoption of the Emergency Regulations approved in April, 2010.

The building community’s concern with CB 80 is not about keeping stormwater on site or solving the stormwater run-off of existing development. CB 80, if adopted, will elevate the redevelopment requirements in Prince George’s County above every other jurisdiction in the State.

The building community believes there is consensus to have a dominant portion of the County’s growth at redevelopment sites. CB 80 does the following, which Montgomery County does NOT:

• It introduces a level of uncertainty in redevelopment site planning to a degree that you won’t know what your building footprint, density and other monetary requirements will be until the later stages of the projects redevelopment plan cycle;

• It could involve the District Council in making Stormwater and ESD site planning decisions; and,

• It takes flexibility out of the Stormwater design process. It makes Stormwater and Environmental Site Design very prescriptive vs. what the project can and should handle on its site and its watershed.

We support making gains in Water Quality if it is done in a fair and equitable manner, which is not CB 80.

These principles put barriers in place from the development perspective of attracting finance and capital for our projects. As a builder/developer, if you don’t know the economics until late in the plan cycle, why put money out that is subject to these risks?!

County Officials have repeatedly supported attracting more quality development at and near its METRO stations. However, with CB 80, the County will inadvertently make other jurisdictions more feasible for redevelopment, will continue to fall behind in attracting Smart Growth and environmentally friendly projects at sites with infrastructure in place, and lastly, the County’s alleged “gain” in Water Quality will not be appreciable.

The building industry would support a tool box of incentives that would clearly demonstrate the County’s commitment to METRO and Redevelopment type projects, and we would welcome to be part of a broad consensus group to come up with specific recommendations. We support making gains in Water Quality if it is done in a fair and equitable manner, which is not CB 80.

Thomas M. Farasy is President of the Maryland State Builders Association.

Read previous Center Maryland op-eds by Thomas M. Farasy:

Are we really better in 2010?

Action Needed – Federal Intervention on the Residential Construction Loan

Did Stormwater Rules Get Eased?

What are the real facts?

Are jobs really a priority?
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