Candidates for county council were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Housing: What should the county do, if anything, to forestall the continued conversion of middle-income rental housing to condos? What zoning changes or incentives would encourage developers to build more moderate-rent apartments?
Taxes: Should the county subsidize federal social service programs new being cut and would you support increased taxes in the next four years to pay these costs?
Disposal: How can Montgomery County best deal with its long-range waste disposal problems: rail hauling, the new incinerator, new landfills etc.?
Rose Crenca (D), incumbent, 56, of 9101 Flower Ave., Silver Spring, was elected to the County Council in 1978. A former teacher and researcher, she has served on several county advisory committees and was vice president of the regional transportation planning board. She is active in county voting and in professional, civic and political organizations.
Housing: (a) I believe there is real merit in pressing for reinstitution of my landmark tenants' Right of First Refusal Law, which was upheld by the courts when challenged. Unfortunately, our state legislature sabotaged it. This legislation made it possible for the owner to realize his fair profit in selling his property, while allowing the tenants to negotiate to maintain the status quo. (b) Rezoning to a much higher density than permitted in master plans undoubtedly would spur developers to greater activity, and we possibly could exact a commitment for a portion in moderate-rent apartments. However, such impacting of the master plan is unacceptable, since it violates the rules of good planning. Rather, I'd opt for tangible incentives, such as using our triple-A bond rating to provide revenue bonds to reduce interest rates and, hence, cost of rentals. Also, streamline issuing of building permits and inspections, and correct oppressive, inequitable building charges.
Taxes: Yes, but selectively, with caution. We must ascertain the degree of subsidy needed by: 1) evaluating which of our programs are most needed, are most successful and must continue at current levels, and which could be combined or scaled down, based on actual experience; 2) determining the size of federal cuts (cautious optimism hints that earlier reports of severe slashes may not be so great), and 3) reordering priorities on other less essential services, which could be decreased to free up funds. Some additional funds also should materialize through school closings and through increased revenue from success in our economic development program. If reorganization, reordering of spending priorities and increased economic development revenues -- along with possible private sector contributions -- don't provide necessary funds, the only alternative is an increase in taxes. This would have to be addressed most cautiously, so as not to impact on marginal groups that are just barely making it, e.g., some senior citizens.
Disposal: 1) Involve citizens in the process as early as possible. Some of our irate residents are completely unaware of planned waste projects until implementation is imminent. Generally, Montgomery County citizens are knowledgeable regarding their legal rights, so involving them early is imperative. 2) Avoid piecemeal planning and implementation. The location of our transfer station is influencing thinking regarding location of a possible resource recovery facility. We should plan well enough in advance to take this kind of "domino effect" into consideration. 3) Get the best technical information possible; share with citizens; conduct public hearings that are authentic rather than pro forma. 4) Acknowledge that such projects are often considered "LULUs" (local unwanted land uses), and implement them with a maximum of sensitivity, tact and minimal visual, psychological and physical impact. 5) Safety must always be the prime consideration. There really is a Love Canal.
John A. Dean (R), 54, of 805 Dale Dr., Silver Spring, a lawyer in private practice, has held finance, accounting and general management positions with Marriott Corp. and the National Automobile Dealers Association. He is active in professional, political and civic organizations, and was a city councilman in East Palestine, Ohio.
Housing: First, a resolution by the County Council and the county executive to cease attempts in the next four years to control rents, in order to reestablish an atmosphere conducive to investment -- with a safety valve. Second, amend the zoning laws to permit increased density, including relaxation of the height and FAR restrictions, and to reduce the number of parking spaces required per unit, particularly in locations near present and proposed Metro locations -- not merely discretionary reductions. Third, reduce the administrative review procedures (red tape) required for site plan approval. Fourth, reduce the various fee schedules for permits and hook-ups. Fifth, propose low-cost financing (industrial revenue bonds, etc.).
Taxes: Upon review of adequate depth, the county should subsidize those federal programs being cut, if there is a level of benefits to our citizens which compares favorably with the costs of implementation. Adequate controls would need to be established to avoid the abuses existing in certain presently funded programs. There appear to be sufficient opportunities at the present level of county expenditures to effect economies, which would preclude any requirement to increase taxes for this. With ever increasing real estate tax assessments, increasing sales and income tax revenues, and enthusiastic encouragement of development to broaden the tax base and share the burden, it should be our aim to reduce tax rates.
Disposal: Rail hauling should be thoroughly examined as an alternative to new landfills and the proposed new incinerator. Granted, trips to West Virginia, western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio may not be as stimulating as those to Europe, but they may be more beneficial to our county. Many of these areas are covered with the spoils of old strip mines and stone quarries, the soil and water already ruined, the people unemployed. A rail haul program, thoughtfully developed and imaginatively presented, could gain acceptance, provide jobs in the receiving area and offer the means by which the landscape could be restored to sightliness and productivity, all at a lower cost to the county than the presently favored landfills and incinerator. Further, such a course of action would not take up prime commercial, residential or farm land.