Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Friday, June 02, 2006

The "22-story" Building Part XXXVIII: Law Enforceable and Content Matters

There is a letter to the editor on the court case over the “22-story” building in the Flier this week. It raises an interesting question: after an illegal act has been committed can and should a review to uphold the law be prevented by another procedural maneuver? Obviously the notion of standing has been part of the legal system for a long time (though it seems to me that any citizen should have standing in a democracy to challenge the illegal act of a government body), but in this case it is being used to try to prevent a legal remedy to an illegal act. We are a nation of laws and when the law is broken there must be a way to enforce it, but here we have a maneuver, yes grounded in legal tradition, but in this case being solely used to try to prevent enforcement of the law. It is an interesting little game that tries to protect illegality using a cloak of legal maneuver and I am interested to see if the judge looks at the big picture issue of an illegal act being reviewed so the law can be enforced or chooses to determine that there is no means to enforce the law and thus make the law meaningless. For, surely a law that cannot be enforced is meaningless.

Now as I have said many times before my biggest problem with the “22-story” tower is less its height than its content. If you are going to build a building of that size there surely is room within the massive profits the developer is to make to absorb the mixed income housing that Howard County values and needs. And that doesn’t even mention the fact that despite pools being an integral part of the mixing and community building Rouse used to strengthen our community that this tower will have a private pool on its roof. If this pool were to be the Lakefront Neighborhood Pool that all CA members could use under the Package Plan structure, then I think it would be great and I would be happy they were making such great land use by putting a neighborhood pool on the roof in an urban environment, but as a private pool it is a direct assault on the principles of Columbia.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"that despite pools being an integral part of the mixing and community building Rouse used to strengthen our community that this tower will have a private pool on its roof"

I hadn't thought of it quite like that before, but I agree this pool will encourage the building's residents to not partake of CA's pools, thereby negating the original community-building purpose of the CA pools and, by default, placing a higher burden on town center's other residents to support CA pools' funding. Do any Columbia covenants frown on such private pools for developments?

Yet, in defense of its incorporation of a pool: other Columbia developments include private pools (Island Club Apts. for one) and having the pool available inside, within walking distance, and open year round is hardly something I'd begrudge someone who could afford it and should be exercising year round.

Regarding mixed-income housing not being included in its design, that does seem to be a bigger issue relative to building and maintaining a healthy community. I think it would seem more out of line with Columbia's concept of "housing for all" if this was 160 single family homes or townhomes costing $700k-$2.2M and retail shops and no mixed-income housing included, but since it's a 160-unit tower occupying a much smaller footprint, maybe too many of us think there will be room for mixed-income housing elsewhere in town center.

I just don't think town center developers are going to be falling over themselves to pursue less lucrative mixed-income housing projects unless regulations provide the impetus to do so.

12:24 AM  
Blogger Mike Milligan said...

"it seems to me that any citizen should have standing in a democracy to challenge the illegal act of a government body"

I agree, and if the act was illegal, another remedy is the court system.

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