Down­zon­ing is at­tack on prop­erty rights

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - Tom deSabla, La Plata

For folks who don’t know, to cre­ate a new “Wa­ter­shed Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict,” Charles County is in process of re­zon­ing 36,769 acres — 57.5 square miles — of land, com­pris­ing 9,489 sep­a­rate prop­er­ties. For per­spec­tive, 57.5 square miles is nearly 10 per­cent of the county. That 9,489 prop­er­ties is a huge num­ber, too; the U.S. Cen­sus Bureau shows only 58,865 hous­ing units in the en­tire county.

All prop­er­ties in the new dis­trict that are not al­ready in the process of be­ing de­vel­oped will be down­zoned to per­mit only one dwelling unit per 20 acres of prop­erty. This would es­sen­tially elim­i­nate the pos­si­bil­ity of sub­di­vid­ing an af­fected prop­erty, and would pre­vent peo­ple from build­ing on land that they have ac­quired for that ex­press pur­pose.

It largely pre­vents de­vel­op­ment at the Charles County air­port, and con­tra­dicts pre­vi­ous com­pre­hen­sive plans. Af­fected prop­er­ties will lose value, ru­in­ing the long term plans that many in­di­vid­ual peo­ple — as well as groups, like churches — had made for their prop­er­ties. This ac­tion is a gross vi­o­la­tion of prop­erty rights and con­sti­tutes a di­rect at­tack on af­fected prop­erty own­ers.

The Charles County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion and the Charles County Com­mis­sion­ers are re­spon­si­ble. Their rea­son? To pro­tect the Mat­ta­woman Creek wa­ter­shed. How­ever, their greater pur­pose is a con­cept called “smart growth,” which orig­i­nated with un­elected bu­reau­crat ide­o­logues at the U.N., who have been push­ing their un­demo­cratic ideas of “sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment” for many years.

Some say this plan was openly dis­cussed at meet­ings, and that ev­ery­one had a chance to weigh in. But the only peo­ple who ac­tu­ally had time to do that are a se­lect group of en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, mostly re­tired, who have dom­i­nated the agenda. It is un­demo­cratic for a small mi­nor­ity of ac­tivists to make far-reach­ing de­ci­sions for 9,489 prop­er­ties that they do not own.

It’s in­dis­putable that thou­sands of prop­er­ties will lose value. If a holder of a 30-acre lot could have built an ad­di­tional house for their chil­dren be­fore, and now they can­not, then the loss of value is ob­vi­ous. County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Peter Mur­phy (D) has been a driv­ing force be­hind this down­zon­ing ac­tion, along with com­mis­sion­ers Ken Robin­son (D) and Amanda Ste­wart (D).

Mur­phy’s cam­paign brochure when he ran as a com­mis­sioner can­di­date claimed alarm about fall­ing prop­erty val­ues. Once elected, he en­acted a trans­fer tax on real es­tate sales and now this un­demo­cratic down­zon­ing plan. Both ac­tions dam­age prop­erty val­ues. Mur­phy vowed trans­parency, but af­fected prop­erty own­ers haven’t even been no­ti­fied. Pri­vate cit­i­zens seek­ing a zon­ing vari­ance must no­tify their neigh­bors by cer­ti­fied mail; shouldn’t the county do the same?

The Charles County Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee adamantly op­poses this bla­tant at­tack on prop­erty rights in our county. We all trea­sure and want to pre­serve our nat­u­ral re­sources, in­clud­ing the Mat­ta­woman, but this is not the way to ac­com­plish that goal. The CCRCC urges cit­i­zens to voice their opin­ions on this is­sue by at­tend­ing the next meet­ing of the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion on Jan. 9 at the gov­ern­ment build­ing in La Plata.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.