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Montgomery County Council Overrides Veto of Metro Development Incentives

by Nena Perry-Brown

On Tuesday afternoon, the Montgomery County Council voted to override the County Executive's veto of a bill incentivizing residential development on WMATA-owned property.

The “More Housing at Metrorail Stations Act”, which exempts new high-rise residential developments on land leased from Metro from property taxes for 15 years, was first passed three weeks ago on a 7-2 vote. County Executive Marc Elrich vetoed the bill on October 16th, stating that the incentive is too pricey to justify the expected housing units.

The veto override went through on the same lines as the initial vote, with Councilmembers Tom Hucker and Will Jawando maintaining their opposition.

The development incentive would apply to projects that are at least half rental apartments, and at least 25% of any moderately-priced dwelling units (MPDUs) produced would have to be reserved for households earning up to 50% of area median income. It is estimated that the bill could encourage production of up to 8,600 housing units at the County's Metrorail stations, including up to 1,300 MPDUs.

Councilmembers Hucker and Jawando have expressed the opinion that the incentives are not a good deal for the county and that incentives should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

"I think we should have done more for the taxpayer in this instance, and current law would have allowed for that," Jawando explained. 

Councilmember Andrew Friedson countered that the bill will deliver much needed new, transit-oriented housing, a benefit that should outweigh any downside. 

"If you believe that [we are in a housing crisis], and you value the inherent economic and environmental benefit from high-ride development specifically as fundamental to smart growth development on top of Metro, then this bill simply forgoes revenue we wouldn't otherwise receive to generate housing and smart-growth development we desperately need in strategic locations where we desperately want it," Councilmember Friedson stated.

The law will take effect in January.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/montgomery-county-council-overrides-executives-veto-of-metro-development-in/17457

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