I dropped by Ken Ulman’s press conference at Wilde Lake Village Green yesterday. I stood with local activist Jud Malone and Bill Miller, the owner of Today’s Catch seafood market. Along with the three of us and the county executive, there were councilpersons Mary Kay Sigaty and Jen Terrasa.
Alan Klein was there of course, pontificating as usual. Steve Meskin was in attendance as well. Steve is running against Sue Waller for Columbia Council representing Town Center. You may recall that Steve was one of those who sued to stop the construction of the Plaza Tower condominiums. He was of course joined in that action by Lloyd Knowles who was also in attendance.
I also saw Tony Tringali. Tony was the first barber to open a shop in Columbia. He has been a tenant, in the exact same location, since the village center first opened. I believe he is the only original Columbia merchant that is still in business.
Just before the press conference started, Jud Malone quipped to me wondering if Ken would mention the “d” word (density) anywhere in his remarks.
He did use the word “evolve” quite a bit though. Could that be the new euphemism for density?
Hayduke had a pretty good post about Ken’s speech here.
The gist of the press conference was the announcement of a legislative initiative to amend part of the New Town (NT) zoning regulations. As it now stands, only General Growth Properties (GGP), as the successor to The Rouse Company, can request changes to an existing use in the NT zone. This arrangement worked fine when The Rouse Company controlled the village centers as well as virtually all of the commercial property in Columbia.
Since The Rouse Company divested itself of the village centers several years ago it could be well argued that GGP has conflicting interests with the owners of the village centers, particularly when it comes to village center’s “evolving.”
All of this is positive and the county executive is to be commended for taking this initiative. If the village centers are to remain viable commercial centers they need greater flexibility to “evolve.”