Google won't help with that one.
If you haven't noticed (or cared to notice), I've taken to titling posts with song lyrics. Sometimes the lyrics are germane to the subject I'm writing about; sometimes not so much. There's no particular reason I started doing this, but now it's the thing I do, so no turning back now, I guess. Think of it as a way to gain insight into my personality, without having to read through boring personal anecdotes about my life.
Speaking of anecdotes...
The Husky and I decided to go for a jaunt in the woods yesterday. It was nice -- thanks for asking.
On our way back, we drove up Ilchester Road in Ellicott City, which wasn't so nice. Ilchester, as many of you know, follows a tributary of the Patapsco River north from Route 103 to an old, burned-out mill and this new pedestrian bridge.
(The Husky isn't much of a fan of this or the other bridge near the Avalon section of Patapsco -- he's not so sure about all the swinging.)
Anyway, on our way back towards Route 103, I noticed an alarming proliferation of fairly-new houses cropping up along Ilchester Road. And though it may come as a surprise to some, seeing this type of development makes my blood boil.
I understand and respect property rights as much as the next market-loving capitalist, and I also love nature as much as the next tree-spiking hippy. But, what I don't understand is why we continue to allow McMansions in places where they are totally out of place and can inflict significant harm to sensitive environmental areas -- for instance, riparian zones -- while places where development is entirely appropriate -- say, parking lots in Town Center -- are growth battle zones. I know there are many, many issues tied up in the Town Center debate and that growth battle zones exist all over the county, but I'm overlooking all that here to highlight the belief, held by at least a few, that growth is growth is growth. Really, it's not.
Given my contradictory (to some) love of markets and nature, creating a program where development rights can be transferred from bad places to good places seems almost too sensible. And it must be, because I almost never hear anyone talk about it.
A few quick thoughts about how it would work: Landowners with existing development rights could sell these rights (thus preserving the value of their land while leaving it undeveloped) to landowners in approved areas who currently lack residential development rights. With such a market, all the goodness of supply and demand would take over and we're (theoretically) left with an optimum outcome.
The approved areas would most likely be Town Center and along Route 1. Units probably would not be sold one-for-one, as a single development unit in the rural west is entirely different from a single unit in Town Center. I would still give the new Town Center a baseline set of residential units to start with. After all, the community art, plazas and other amenities won't pay for themselves, and forcing General Growth to buy development rights cuts into this pool of money.
I've mentioned this before with respect to Doughoregan (what's going on with that, by the way?). Of course, there are myriad issues that would have to be worked out and resistance is likely from numerous fronts. None of this, however, should preclude us from trying or at least discussing it, right?
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Google won't help with that one.