Is Zoning a Promise?

Is Zoning a Promise?

By Patricia Fenati

Over a century ago, growth of communities was helter-skelter.  There was no assurance when building a home in a quiet place that the following year a factory would not be built beside your home, thus making the property almost worthless. But America came up with a solution to this problem starting in Los Angeles in 1908. The solution is called zoning. Zoning establishes guidelines which guide urban growth and development.

Webster’s dictionary defines zoning as: municipal or county regulation of land use effected through the creation and enforcement of zones under local law

The according to Wikipedia, the definition of zoning is:

Zoning is a method of planning where land is divided into areas called zones, each of which regulates any new development in that zone. Zones are designated for specific use (e.g. commercial, industrial, residential, single family, multi-family, etc.)

Both definitions express that a promise is made by a municipality (or laws governing the area) of how land will be used. Thus, a buyer who purchases a piece of property is guaranteed that new neighboring properties will follow the same zoning regulations.

Because the use of land can change over time, there is a way of changing zoning regulations for a parcel of land. It is called re-zoning. This process involves petitioning for a re-zoning hearing, advertise the hearing by signs and other notifications in a public way to notify those in the area that a property is under consideration for re-zoning. There then are public hearings in which the owners of neighboring properties can have their voices heard. If there is good reason and there is no large rejection, the re-zoning can be allowed.

Montgomery County Maryland is considering turning zoning on its head.

In one of the most beautiful counties in the nation, zoning is no longer going to be considered. (Zoning, Shmoning!) This change will move us back to the 1800’s in assurances for the property where we live. In a move that can completely devalue all property in any community, the county government is considering a plan called Thrive Montgomery 2050. Under this plan any single home in the county can be replaced with duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes. This can be done without notification, without hearings without any input from neighboring properties whatsoever. The plan is to eliminate single family housing in the county. This will turn communities upside down.

This plan also tells us that a bunch of hypocrites make up our County Council!

We are constantly lectured about global warming. The County Council requires recycling, they charge for plastic bags. When removing trees on our own property if more than 5,000 square feet of canopy or soil is disturbed, we have to have a permit to remove the tree. We are saving the planet!

Many of the neighborhoods in Montgomery County have large green spaces. We are told that more green space is needed to save the planet … the same planet where our county council is planning to turn green spaces into buildings and parking lots. This plan will destroy those green spaces, including large CO2 eating trees. Black macadam which generates heat and cooks the air above it will be substituted for grass where parking is needed for these new dwelling units. 

I assume that now the planet can be saved elsewhere just not in our county. 

According to the Montgomery County Planning Board, we're running out of space to provide housing for the 200,000 people that the Planning Board has projected will be moving here over the next 30 years. This plan to eradicate single family homes should not be called Thrive Montgomery 2050. It should be called Projects Montgomery 2050. As the character of more and more neighborhoods dramatically change, we will probably attract more than 200,000 people who need cheap housing. We will have to build larger soviet style apartment buildings. Wait! … We already did that in this country.  We called the buildings Projects. How did that work for this country, Montgomery Council?

Montgomery Council, you are breaking a promise to the people of this county.

Breaking this promise will destroy neighborhoods, destroy the value of homes, and destroy peoples dreams, dreams which often take the better part of a lifetime to achieve.

What are your plans for the infrastructure in this county to accommodate 200.000 more commuters? Our roads are already overwhelmed by stop and go traffic and you are fighting improvement of our roads. By the way you clueless environmentalists … you know that if a car is standing for an extra half hour in a traffic jam it is spewing CO2 into the atmosphere all that time. 

The voters of this county need to act! A group has been formed called Empowering People in Communities of MoCo (EPIC of MoCo).  Please Like and follow EPIC of MoCo on FB and Twitter.  Let’s fight this plan. Together we can make a difference.


Patricia Fenati is a Member of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee and Chair of its District 14 Committee.

Montgomery County Republican Party