I am a builder with 25 years of experience who lives and works in Montgomery County. I build a few homes a year in established communities, and I am proud of my work.
Recently, some residents who disapprove of certain additions and new homes have lobbied the County Council to add fees and restrict housing design ["Chevy Chase's Conflict of Size and Sensibilities; 'Mansionization' Pits Old vs. New," front page, Oct. 2]. But such proposals, if adopted, would affect not only builders but every property owner in the county. If housing starts fall, property values fall.
New residents play a vital role in the development of the county by demanding certain housing features and determining the value of property. Some residents deny receiving any economic benefits of development, but that is hypocritical. Some residents want to force their vision of the future on everyone else; that is arrogant.
It is a basic American right to legally improve your home to serve your needs. I know there are good and bad examples of home improvements out there, but that is the price of freedom. For people who want to live in an architecturally controlled community, plenty are available.
Architects, engineers, builders and even the permitting agencies have a difficult time understanding the county's building permit process -- and we do it for a living. We need to make the permitting process simpler and easier to follow. We don't need more piecemeal legislation on height, drainage, impervious surface and accessory buildings that would create more problems than it would solve. Only a comprehensive approach will improve the process.