Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Monday, December 11, 2006

Action

Last week testifying to the Transition Team guestblogger Alan Klein had a fable that I think sums up very well the current state of affairs with regard to the 22 story condo building that is proposed for the Lakefront area:

Everybody agrees that the Tower is inappropriate for Downtown Columbia. Anybody could do something about that, but Nobody is doing what Somebody clearly could be doing to stop it.

It seems that Somebody believes that Nobody can do anything at this point. Anybody who looks at the situation realizes that Everybody needs to stand up and be counted.

There is no reason for Everybody to be harmed simply because Nobody is doing what Somebody should have done already. Anybody can see that this administration needs to stand up, be a Somebody, and take immediate action!

22 Comments:

Blogger wordbones said...

Nice fable.

The fact is that Alan Klien is wrong. Not everyone agrees that the tower is wrong.

Count me among them.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with WB. Alan Klein does not speak for everybody.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Dave Wissing said...

I am glad I am not alone. I am not completely opposed to the tower either. I am not saying I am in favor of it, just whether it gets built or not really isn't going to bother me.

The problem I have with most opposed to it is they seem to focus on the height more than anything else. If it is an issue of traffic and utilities, then maybe they have an argument against it and can sway me, but just be against something because it is "too tall" by some arbitrary standard is not going to convince me to be against the tower. I had this discussion on Election Day with other poll workers (including one of the members of the lawsuit) and they couldn't make any argument against the tower other than it was "too tall" for Columbia. "Too tall" for what?

10:32 AM  
Blogger locke said...

I concur with dave wissing, too tall is not a sufficient argument against the tower..

i am also in support of it.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Hayduke said...

Well, this is surprising.

Add my name to the "not opposed" list, too.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am not against the building either. (Is this something that all the HoCo bloggers agree on regardless of ideology? Then maybe that's significant.)

Where does Mr. Klein get the idea that "everyone" is against the building? Was there some polling? If so, who did it and are the results public.

In all due fairness to Mr. Klein, I am reading his remarks second hand, although my expectation is that Evan's reporting is "spot-on."

I keep getting the impression that Mr. Klein and the group he heads belive they are the voice of "the people" on the redevelopment of downtown. Its possible that while they are very vocal and visible (which they have every right to be) they might get mistaken for having the majority opinion when in fact they are in the minority.

stevefine.blogspot.com

1:50 PM  
Blogger B. Santos said...

I just wanted to be sure I had the right scorecard on the Plaza issue. It is my understanding that those seeking legal action are doing so based on whether the land is zoned for commercial (and not residential) use. It seems that Co Fo Co Do opposes the Plaza based on height. Did I get that right?

By the way, I think that dontown Columbia buildings can be taller than 14 stories, if done well.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's out of scale with surrounding structures.

Where a structure of appreciable, but still far less height would be less out of scale is within the Mall loop. Perhaps if the Mall inhaled and stood up straight, sucking in its ever-oozing-outward blob of restaurants, anchor department stores, theatres, etc., it could, instead of remaining a 2-story structure, become a 4 or 5 story commercial structure with a couple of multi-story residential towers on top connected by roof-topping greenways.

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Alan Klein said...

Well, Bi Sa, you have it only partially right. Height is a main point of our objections to the Tower.

In addition, we are VERY concerned about the process that allowed the Planning Board to re-zone commercial land to residential and which allowed more apartment land to be created in Columbia than is allowed by the relevant Plans.

Finally, we are highly concerned about affordable housing being provided throughout Downtown and are having a hard time seeing how a building with only apartments that cost $600K to $2M will contribute to that.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan Klein said...

In terms of the "fable", well...it is a fable! That is to say, it is a story...That is to say it is not factually, specifically, in detail, true on every point. One must never allow the accuracy of a story get in the way of its truth!

The truth is the following:

1. Ken Ulman has said, "The community’s voice has been loud and clear that a 22 story building has no place in our Town Center. As County Executive, I will introduce a height limit for New Town Zoning to prohibit any building over 14 stories."

2. In the August 28 Candidates' Forum, all or virtually all of the candidates said that they thought the Tower was inappropriate in height for Downtown.

3. On the first day of the Charrette, out of 36 tables, perhaps one spoke approvingly of 22 story buildings. Many tables spoke of low heights. Of those that spoke approvingly of "tall buildings", the maximum heights they mentioned were in the 10-12 story range.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Alan Klein said...

Also, the Coalition for Columbia's Downtown (CCD or the Coalition) clearly understand that there are those who approve of the Tower.

- Some because they want to live there.

- Some because they will make money on it.

- Some because they like tall buildings.

- Some because they have no objection to it.

- Some because they feel that the more money that is made in Downtown, and the more density there is, the more affordable housing can be created.

We recognize those positions, and others. In the end, we feel that the negatives outweigh the positives and we feel comfortable that we stand with the majority of the community and with our County Executive and the majority of the County Council.

1:15 PM  
Blogger wordbones said...

Alan,

Just because someone did not attend the charette does not mean they don't have have an opinion on the development of Town Center.

I am not convinced that the majority of the community agrees with your positions. Three hundred people can hardly be said to speak for 100,000.

2:49 PM  
Blogger wordbones said...

Alan,

Just because someone did not attend the charette does not mean they don't have have an opinion on the development of Town Center.

I am not convinced that the majority of the community agrees with your positions. Three hundred people can hardly be said to speak for 100,000.

2:52 PM  
Blogger wordbones said...

Alan,

Just because someone did not attend the charette does not mean they don't have have an opinion on the development of Town Center.

I am not convinced that the majority of the community agrees with your positions. Three hundred people can hardly be said to speak for 100,000.

2:54 PM  
Blogger wordbones said...

Alan,

Just because someone did not attend the charette does not mean they don't have have an opinion on the development of Town Center.

I am not convinced that the majority of the community agrees with your positions. Three hundred people can hardly be said to speak for 100,000.

2:54 PM  
Blogger wordbones said...

Alan,

Just because someone did not attend the charette does not mean they don't have have an opinion on the development of Town Center.

I am not convinced that the majority of the community agrees with your positions. Three hundred people can hardly be said to speak for 100,000.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Alan Klein said...

Wordbones,

You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, though you don't have to repeat yourself so many times! :o)

Look at it this way: Ken Ulman says that the community has spoken clearly on this subject and a majority elected him. Certainly this is not the only issue on which the community elected him, but it is an important one and one he emphasized in the last minute push for votes.

9:05 PM  
Blogger wordbones said...

Alan,

Yeah, sorry about that. Blogger got a lttle screwy on me.

Then again, I am certainly not the most tech savvy dog on the block.

-wb

7:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is the first time I have ever agreed with Wissing.

The process may need to be fixed and the tower may be a little too tall for some, but that was the process and it is not too tall for others.

Fix the process moving forward but to reach back into time with general laws to impact 1 building is unethical for an elected official and hurts the predictability of anyone who is impacted by development or cares about process.

If we had a 14-story limit and the tower was slated to be build and the government reached back to amend the law to 22-stories to make the previously illegal project legal, we would think that was wrong.

Let the too tall, ugly building serve as a lesson of where our loopholes are and what needs to be done moving forward.

Be glad it wasn't a 32 story lesson.

6:38 AM  
Blogger Evan said...

If the county violated the law and the process to approve the building, then it being allowed to be built is what undermined the predictability of the process. Government should never be above the law. Let's look to fix this so it doesn't send the message to developers that we do not care about our own rules.

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Government should not be above the law.

However, if there is a potential violation of the law, then only the courts should be looking at it. The judicial branch and not the executive or the council should be interpreting the law.

By seeking support from the executive or council BEFORE the act is proven illegal (which is what you all continue to suggest) is (1) offensive to both branches and I am surprised you would expect anything else from a body that you seek to persuade and (2) innappropriate.

I do not think the message to developers, who feel we followed the rules would be we don't care about our own rules. Only you think we did not follow the rules and the legal system should be the decider of that.

I think many of you are too swayed by emotion and fixated on one building, which could end up being right in scale with surrounding buildings in 30 years.

6:41 AM  
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