Counties Resolutely Oppose Burdensome Changes to Priority Funding Areas

On February 14, 2023, Associate Policy Director Dominic Butchko testified before the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee in opposition to SB 0294 – Comprehensive Plan – Implementation and Review in Priority Funding Areas.

This bill would upend a carefully crafted policy regarding housing development in county-designated priority funding areas, all at a critical juncture of the State’s battle to ensure widespread access to affordable housing. Current law sets clear parameters that serve to funnel money to those projects in the priority funding areas where it is most needed. SB 0294 overburdens this process by introducing new standards and considerations that could very well divert funds that would otherwise be put toward development projects in designated “smart growth” corridors.

From the MACo Testimony:

In 2008 the Maryland Court of Appeals handed down a decision in Trial v. Terrapin Run that, in the absence of legislative language stating otherwise, solidified the “in harmony with” standard regarding special exceptions. Specifically, the case centered around a development (Terrapin Run) and how it complied with Allegany County’s comprehensive plan. During the 2009 legislative session, the General Assembly and Governor responded to the Trial v. Terrapin Run decision by passing a suite of related legislation, including most notably HB 297 of 2009. This legislation clearly and deliberately set parameters for projects in priority funding areas, outlining that consistency with comprehensive plans does NOT include “land uses, densities, or intensities.”… Revisiting this important policy choice and reintroducing land uses, densities, or intensities as considerations within priority funding areas could serve to slow development projects in designated “smart growth” corridors. In the present housing environment, especially, this could serve counter to policy goals to expand housing supply in areas already served by central infrastructure. The 2009 bill struck a sensible balance, with the support of many stakeholders.

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