Sisterhood Agenda

Preventing Downzoning

downzoning
Sisterhood Agenda
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Preventing downzoning is what a lot of developers end up having to do, especially developers who build affordable housing.  Why?  Downzoning has become a political instrument to block affordable housing development, even new, green, conversation projects like Sisterhood Agenda’s PARKS Holistic Housing.  Yes, we have to contend with downzoning, too.

THE NEED TO PREVENT DOWNZONING

Black and brown developers are rare, and women developers are even more scarce.  Nationally, there are very few HUD-certified CHDOs (Community Housing and Development Organizations) like Sisterhood Agenda, Inc.

Downzoning divides.

The need is massive–we all need homes. And we are right in the beginning of a national housing crisis.  It’s not only lower-income people who are affected. Moderate-income, or “middle-class” families are also at risk.

PARKS Holistic Housing is a mixed-income community.

Sisterhood Agenda works with over fifty community partners in Baltimore County and has formed valuable partnerships with businesses ranging from Walmart to Seasons Pizza.  We have met with leadership from the Baltimore County Mobile Home Association and the Williams Estates and Peppermint Woods community associations to discuss the project and the proposed rezoning.

While our discussions are ongoing, both community groups expressed support for the proposed development.

In addition, we also met with the Essex Middle River Civic Council in April to get their feedback on the PARKS project and the proposed rezoning.  As you may be aware, a few residents have voiced concerns over the development of the site.  We are encouraged by the groundswell of local support that we have received for the project and are optimistic that we can further educate the few neighbors who have concerns to address their concerns and gain their support.

Getting affordable housing built is challenging when multi-family zoning is downzoned to block development.

READ MORE:  The Power of Inclusionary Zoning

Do you believe land is a human right? What about housing?  Downzoning negatively affects them both.

In addition to not being able to develop as many homes as previously allowed, downzoning also reduces the property values in the entire neighborhood.

PUBLIC HEARING ABOUT DOWNZONING

Speaker #1:  Angela D. Coleman

On June 27, 2024, Sisterhood Agenda’s leadership spoke out against the attempted downzoning of vacant land parcels in Middle River, Maryland at the CZMP (Comprehensive Zoning Map Process) Baltimore County Council Public Hearing.

“Greetings esteemed members of the Baltimore County Council.  My name is Angela D. Coleman. I am the Founder and President of Sisterhood Agenda, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides Girls Empowerment, Holistic Health and Wellness, Sustainable Housing and Community Development.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on Issue Nos. 5-065 & 5-066.  I respectfully request the Council to vote to retain the existing zoning for both.

Sisterhood Agenda owns a 1.4 acres on Beasley, Issue No. 5-066.  For the past two years, we have been in active discussions with Baltimore County to acquire the County-owned parcels, Issue No. 5-065.

Sisterhood Agenda’s proposal is PARKS Holistic Housing: a comprehensive, community-based new housing model to provide 9 single-family attached-style, eco-friendly homes on over 10 acres, plus trauma-informed support services for women and children, and others in the Middle River community.

Sisterhood Agenda is an award-winning green builder.

PARKS Holistic Housing has no negative environmental impact (water, sewer, or other).

PARKS Holistic Housing’s positive environmental impact is expanded with a conservation plan to preserve 90% of the County parcel to maintain this previously neglected area as a preserved, beautiful, green neighborhood space.

In close proximity to an MTA stop, public transportation is available as an eco-conscious alternative to individual car use.

County staff do not support the requested zoning change. The Planning Department says these changes do not align with DHCD [Department of Housing and Community Development] objectives. DHCD recommends maintaining both issues’ existing zoning, which is “appropriate for the site and reflects the best and highest use of the property.”

They add:  the land is already protected by either environmental protection, covenants and restrictions, easements, or similar legal mechanisms.

Sisterhood Agenda is a HUD-certified CHDO that does good work. The fairness that we seek is the same that HUD, NAACP, ACLU, the Public Justice Center, and others have been fighting for decades.

We would like to proceed like the process for the Perry Hall Mansion when County land and property was conveyed (along with grant funding and no CZMP filings) to an individual owner earlier this month.

Please keep the zoning the same.  Thank you.”

Speaker #2:  Ayana Coleman Dixon

As we continue to positively engage the County, the State, and the surrounding community, residents have spoken, and they support PARKS Holistic Housing.

While the same 12 residents who came with us to the Planning CZMP public hearing could not all be here to meet for over 4 hours like we did the last time, we have others who say:

“I support Sisterhood Agenda’s Holistic Housing.”

“I support what you’re doing.”
“I would like to live someplace that is drug-free and see more flowers in the community…  I like roses!”
“We really need this type of housing, especially for senior citizens in our community.”
“We are building bridges in the community to come together.”

“What you are doing is a great thing, really needed in our community.”

“Thank you for including me.  I am learning a lot.”

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