Speak Out!

March 12, 2006

LAST WEEK'S ISSUE: -- An Annapolis alderman wants to amend an ordinance requiring developers to set aside workforce housing at new projects to allow nonprofit organizations to buy the homes, so that they in turn can sell or rent them to moderate-income residents.

The program is now open to city residents, city employees and full-time teachers in city schools who meet income requirements.

But some worry that the amendment will lead to more renters instead of encouraging homeownership, and say the city instead should ease income requirements.

Should nonprofits be allowed to buy designated workforce housing from developers or the city? Your response:

We must preserve workforce housing

We should revisit the program and find out why not enough applicants can qualify. The city and the developer may have to step in and provide additional financial assistance to get these buyers qualified. Perhaps the condo fees for the first five years can be waived and paid by the developer or income requirements can be eased. With the huge demand for workforce housing, the pool of applicants is there.

The Anne Arundel County Alliance For Fair Land Use is strongly against any provision that allows the reversion of workforce housing units back to the developer if they have been on the market for 90 days and not purchased by a nonprofit. We must keep those units reserved for our workforce. The worst-case scenario is to allow true nonprofits to purchase them.

Our suggestion of using surplus government land for workforce housing is the most viable as it takes the cost of the land out of the price of the home. We suggest that 25 percent of any land given to the county or city be used for workforce housing.

Little by little the workforce is being pushed out. This includes our sons and daughters who will not live in Annapolis or Anne Arundel County unless their parents are in a position to help them or both spouses have high-paying jobs.

This issue must be addressed in the coming elections, and commitments must be made.

John S. Pantelides

Anne Arundel County Alliance for Fair Land Use

We want your opinions

ISSUE:

The Anne Arundel County Council will discuss this week whether to raise the pay of the next county executive from $102,000 a year (outgoing County Executive Janet S. Owens' current salary) to $125,000 in 2007 and $130,000 in 2010. Several council members say the executive's salary is woefully inadequate to attract qualified candidates. Members will also take up legislation that would offer annual cost-of-living increases for members of the next council. A council member's current minimum salary of $36,000 would rise to nearly $40,000 by 2010. Most members are opposed to a council raise.

YOUR VIEW:

Do you support a pay raise for the next county executive and the County Council?

Tell us what you think at arundel.speakout@baltsun.com by Thursday. Please keep your responses short, and include your name, address and phone number. A selection will be published next Sunday.

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