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Allan Kittleman Kept His Word On Development

Allan Kittleman Ended Pay to Play in Howard County

After years of irresponsible rezoning and increased residential development, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has:

  • Brought new leadership to the County’s Department of Planning & Zoning
  • Supported the 2018 development moratorium in the Ellicott City Watershed
  • Denied developer waiver requests at double the rate of the previous administration. (2011-2014)
  • Created PlanHoward Academy to increase resident involvement and transparency.
  • Kept his promise to establish a citizen-led taskforce dedicated to re-evaluate the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO), the County’s tool to regulate growth and infrastructure.

Promises kept

Four years ago, Allan Kittleman promised to take on years of irresponsible rezoning and increased residential development.

Since then, he’s made good on that promise and has pushed the county to ensure a transparent and inclusive process moving forward.

While growth is warranted in portions of the county, Allan said he was committed to making sure that growth was done responsibly and did not put undue pressure on schools and the rest of the county’s infrastructure.

Further, Allan believes it is vital to increase our commercial tax base.  For too long, the County Council, acting as the Zoning Board, has rezoned land designated for commercial uses to residential uses thereby increasing residential density while at the same time reducing our ability to grow our commercial tax base.

 

 

 

Responsible growth

Before Allan took office, it was too easy to get a development project approved; and the process wasn’t transparent to residents.

Projects were often given waivers or other departmental authorizations, allowing greater density than the zoning laws intended. Allan called it a situation where “the leadership of the county has allowed the Department of Planning and Zoning to be controlled by a few people.

And, while the County Council increased density, Allan increased transparency.

Indeed, over the last 12 years, the Howard County Council — often in its role as the Zoning Board — has voted frequently to increase residential development, particularly in the eastern part of the county, putting stress on the county’s infrastructure.

But Allan Kittleman is working to make our growth more responsible.

He changed the zoning department leadership and clamped down on development waivers and brought increased transparency to the process.

Allan Kittleman kept his promise.

Since taking office, Allan Kittleman has denied twice as many development waiver requests than the previous administration (2011-2014).  

Allan doesn’t believe developers should be able to build beyond the zoning allowance. So, he appointed new leadership in the County’s Department of Planning and Zoning, instructing them to enforce the regulations and limit exceptions.

While the County Executive has no part in the approval process, Allan made sure that every developer was treated equally, and that all development allowed by the County Council occurs within the parameters of the law and existing zoning regulations.

Re-writing existing zoning regulation

Allan also launched a rewrite of zoning regulations to ensure that future development is consistent with the community’s values and goals, and to BETTER help control development.

The first phase involved hundreds of stakeholders and the county received 700 specific suggestions.

Soon, the county will select an outside consultant to begin meeting with the community, gathering input and begin drafting a much-needed update to the county’s land development regulations.

Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance – APFO

But Allan Kittleman didn’t stop there. He championed a review of the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, or APFO as it’s commonly called.

APFO, the county’s tool to curb development, is a process that takes into account school capacity and traffic congestion prior to a development project’s approval. APFO helps drive growth to parts of the county where adequate infrastructure exists or will exist.

“We did what others avoided for years — conducted a thorough review of the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. And while no legislation is perfect, I think we can all agree that overcrowded schools are unacceptable.”

-Allan Kittleman, Feb 2018

Want to learn more about the APFO rewrite? Click here.

 

 

PlanHoward Academy

Kittleman launched the PlanHoward Academy to help residents get more involved in the planning process. Kittleman got the idea for PlanHoward from a resident who attended one of his quarterly Town Hall meetings.

The PlanHoward Academy, a series of hands-on learning sessions to give county residents an opportunity to learn about the planning and zoning process, helps participants better understand how local development works so that they can be better watchdogs for their community.

Since its inception in 2017, more than 50 residents have graduated from the Academy.

“This is another way we can open up government to our residents, helping them understand how decisions are made, how they can participate in the process and allowing them to become ambassadors to their communities,” he said.

Increasing Commercial Tax Base

Growth and demands for future government services will strain the County’s infrastructure and the environment unless the commercial tax base can be substantially increased to help provide needed tax revenues.

For too long, the focus on growth in Howard County has been on residential development, as reflected in the many decisions over the past several years by the Howard County Council, sitting as the Zoning Board, that allowed residential development on land that had previously been zoned for commercial purposes.

In fact, at the beginning of Allan’s Administration, the commercial tax base in the County was down to only 16.4% of the total tax base.  Since then, that number has increased to 17.2%, which is real progress, but we have to do more.

In order to achieve this goal, Allan Kittleman is redirecting some of the County’s planned growth to focused commercial areas, such as Downtown Columbia, the Gateway Innovation District and Maple Lawn.

This has already started in Downtown Columbia. This commercial development will expand the commercial tax base relative to our residential tax base, providing much-needed tax revenues for the future.  It will also provide residents and, hopefully, their children, with new and exciting opportunities for employment.

Land use and economic development have a strong relationship, and Kittleman wants to maximize that relationship so residents can live and work in Howard County, a goal that, if achieved, will improve both residents’ quality of life and our tax base, without having to raise taxes.

  • Commerical Tax Base in 2014 16.4% 16.4%
  • Commerical Tax Base Under Allan Kittleman 17.2% 17.2%

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Percent Increase in Commerical Tax Base Under Allan Kittleman

Preserving farming as a business.

Kittleman has strengthened the County’s commitment to farmland preservation. His agricultural initiatives support legislation that supports the profitability of farming operations and property rights.

Farming is the 5th largest economic driver in Howard County, and Kittleman has worked tirelessly to support the 335 farms in operation. Since 2015, Kittleman’s administration has helped to add nearly 700 acres to the Agricultural Preservation Program.

In addition, Kittleman identified a sub-cabinet of key agencies to work collaboratively to address the evolving needs of the farming community. This Agricultural Sub-Cabinet consists of the Office of Community Sustainability, County Administration, Soil Conservation District, Economic Development Authority, and the Department of Planning and Zoning.

A simple example of this group working collaboratively to address the needs of farmers was to coordinate a tree trimming plan that identifies strategic routes farmers take their machinery along so as to minimize the conflicts overgrown trees pose.

Right-to-Farm Legislation

Allan Kittleman has strengthened the County’s commitment to farmland preservation. His agricultural initiatives support farming operations and property rights.

Farming is the 5th largest economic driver in Howard County, and Allan has worked tirelessly to support the 335 farms in operation. Since 2015, Kittleman’s administration has helped to add nearly 700 acres to the Agricultural Preservation Program.

In addition, Kittleman identified a sub-cabinet of key agencies to work collaboratively to address the evolving needs of the farming community. This Agricultural Sub-Cabinet consists of the Office of Community Sustainability, County Administration, Soil Conservation District, Economic Development Authority, and the Department of Planning and Zoning.

A simple example of this group working collaboratively to address the needs of farmers was to coordinate a tree trimming plan that identifies strategic routes farmers take their machinery along so as to minimize the conflicts overgrown trees pose.