A commenter on this blog, who uses the pseudonym pzguru, has been engaged in a dialogue with me originating with this post. For well over a week now we have gone back and forth on an accusation of impropriety by an elected official that pzguru made in regards to a development project in the village of Oakland Mills.
Pzguru has argued that the county department of planning and zoning, under pressure from Ken Ulman, the county executive, “illegally” granted a zoning variance to the developer of the Meridian Square office project at the Oakland Mills Village Center which will allow them to provide onsite parking at a ratio of 3.5 spaces per 1,000 square of rentable space as opposed to 4.5 spaces per 1,000 rentable square feet as mandated for this type of use (office). An inference has also been made about corruption and a “special deal” since the developer also made a sizable contribution to Ken Ulmans campaign.
Our dialogue had reached the point that I decided to dedicate a separate post to this subject to give it a more complete airing and hopefully to put it to bed.
Pzguru has asserted that, at a public hearing, the county office of law informed the DPZ that they did not have the authority to grant this variance. This was after it had already been granted. I argued that while they may have overstepped their bounds but that this sort of thing is not all that unusual. To me the more important question is who is harmed.
This is not a case where a community is fighting a developer. The Oakland Mills community considers this building an important part of their revitalization efforts.
The developer asked for the variance so they could build a bigger building. The argument they used is that the building site is already surrounded by parking lots that are rarely even half full. The Oakland Mills community supported this argument and so DPZ, apparently overstepping its authority, allowed it.
Giving this project a parking variance should be a non issue. True, it probably could have been handled differently but the end result would probably be the same.
Pzguru argues that actions like this from our elected officials are the reason “why people are jaded and cynical about politicians and have no trust in the government.”
I beg to differ. What I see is a county government that worked with the community and a private developer to help them achieve their goals. They considered the unique situation on the ground (existing excess parking) and determined that a literal interpretation of regulation (creating even more parking) did not make sense in this case.
Pzguru is frustrated that I don’t want to hang Ulman by the balls for this. I don’t. No matter how I slice it, I just don’t see a ball hanging offense here.
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