Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Tony Hausner, a homeowner and longtime Silver Spring civic activist, thinks the county's growth policy should say something about what he and many residents consider Montgomery's hallmarks: affordable housing, environmental protection, livable and safe neighborhoods, and good schools.
The new growth policy, he said, should be more like a quality-of-life manifesto instead of a technocratic recitation of what it takes to consider an intersection too clogged or a school too crowded.
"We could create incentives in the growth policy to encourage affordable housing. It is disappearing rapidly in Montgomery County. We need to change tax policy or try to find other financial incentives or development incentives to address that," said Hausner, who retired about 18 months ago as a federal expert on Medicare.
"There is more that can be done to address other goals for the county using the growth policy. There is language in the document that talks about sustainability. Some of this could be done more immediately. There is more you can do about affordable housing and about the environment more immediately," he said.
Hausner has lived in Montgomery for more than 30 years and watched the ebb and flow in downtown Silver Spring. He has lived through the downturns and, like many of his neighbors, is mostly pleased with the area's revival. But he worries about street crime.
"In Silver Spring, we seem to be seeing more crime lately, and there are not enough police to fight the crime," he said.
He thinks clamping down on crime should be part of the growth debate, by addressing police understaffing as part of the analysis.
Still, he considers the Montgomery Planning Board's proposal better than a document put together by the County Council in 2003 over the board's objections.
"But we recommend tighter standards still for traffic tests and school crowding tests," he said.