Stewart proposes affordable housing amendments
Changes to comp plan continue
Just ahead of Charles County’s Comprehensive Plan public hearing, the Charles County Board of Commissioners are proposing more new amendments for the plan.
Last week, much of the discussion and many of the amendments proposed by commissioners Ken Robinson (D) and Amanda Stewart (D) were of the environmental variety and called for tier changes along with priority funding area adjustments.
This week’s biggest amendment made by Stewart is proposing the county require developers to have a certain percentage of the units they build be more affordable for county residents. Another proposed amendment from Stewart suggests the county supplement its goal of creating higher paying jobs with a goal of creating more jobs with a “livable wage.”
Specifically for housing, Stewart said, a provision should be added to ensure that “10 to 15 percent” of housing units in a new subdivision of 20 or more units should be “moderately priced.”
This is required even if the “development if phased in over time,” Stewart said.
“Developers must identify all land within the county that the developer owns or controls that is suitable for development in order to ensure that the development is not broken up to hold 19 units or fewer,” Stewart said.
Stewart also said she would like to see a Charles County Affordable Housing board created to ensure developers abide by these suggested regulations.
In March, the county voted to dissolve a previous housing authority board. Stewart said that was because the commissioners did not believe the board addressed the needs of the county. This board, she said, would make sure the provision rate is sufficient to Charles County and will make recommendations to commissioners as time passes to update laws.
“Moderate priced housing is created to assist those at retirement age and those on fixed income,” as well as early home owners, Stewart said.
Steve Ball, the county’s planning director, presented potential changes to the commissioners from amendments proposed during last week’s work session, and one of those included a change in the county’s development district Stewart proposed.
Stewart requested the county’s development district be outlined to “mirror” the county’s priority funding area.
Robinson did not have any further amendments to add to the plan, but said he looks forward to the discussion surrounding them and said it would take time to process the information from the changes on the plans map.
But still, he said, “I look forward to seeing additional changes from my colleagues.”
Both Robinson and Commissioners’ President Peter Murphy (D) said they commend the county’s staff for making adjustments to the plan with amendments within a weeks time.
“It was a lot of work in a short period of time,” Murphy said.
The county’s public hearing on the proposed amendments will be next Tuesday evening in the county commissioners meeting chambers.
Bonnie Bick, a member of the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County, said she is encouraged by the amendments she has seen, but is more concerned with putting a cap on the development around the county than adding more.
The Mattawoman Creek’s stream valleys are “close to the brink of permanent degredation,” Bick said, and need to be taken care of.
“We’re running out of time,” Bick said. “Before we worry about everything else, we need to worry about that.”