Uncertainty in MC Quality of Life Introduced by MC ZTA 19-01
By Patricia Fenati
According to Wikipedia, the primary purpose of zoning is to segregate land uses into divisions that are thought to be compatible. In practice, zoning is also is used to prevent new development from interfering with existing uses and/or to preserve the "character" of a community. By allowing individual homes to be separated from commercial properties and dense housing such as apartment buildings, residents can be assured that their neighborhoods will have compatible homes.
The Montgomery County Council is now considering a bill (ZTA 19-01) which will allow additional dwelling units to be put into homes, and no matter what the size of the lot is, as well as to allow small dwelling units of up to 1200 square feet to be added onto the lots of those homes. Even the County Executive questions the necessity of this legislation, click here to read his concerns regarding ZTA 19-01.
Reportedly this legislation aims to make housing more available to everyone, but what it will actually do is negate zoning regulations in Montgomery County and it will destroy neighborhoods. As residents start to add dwelling units in their back yards and convert basements and garages to additional units, the value of neighboring homes will decrease. I can see “investors” then purchasing lower cost homes, making separate apartments out of the house and putting small rental units in the back yard. This will have a serious impact on Montgomery County.
Montgomery County residents have major investments in their homes, which are sometimes acquired with a great deal of financial sacrifice. They have carefully chosen the neighborhoods where they live (renters and buyers alike) with the expectation that their elected representatives will work to assure the quality of life in those neighborhoods would remain the same. Additional dwelling units everywhere would have a significant negative impact on the quality of neighborhoods.
What effects will these additional units have on parking? On water supply? On sewage capacity? Or school crowding? A home in a neighborhood near mine was rented and several families moved in. That house had a septic tank which soon was over capacity and sewage started creeping to the surface. Since that was an illegal situation, it was eventually remedied. But how is the county planning to police situations such as this when there is no way of correcting them?
ZTA 19-01 is a bad idea. Montgomery County citizens must be made aware of this plan and contact their council members in order to make sure that it does not become law.