In the May 2023 4 County Catch, the last paragraph of my article was inadvertently left out. You can read the entire article on 4 County Catch and you can read The Rest of The Story here!

I wrote about development vs open space: I think Mount Airy is in a unique position to make bargains that benefit the town. Whether it be through additional impact fees to developers to fund the additional needs of the town, or a request for developers to purchase land for the benefit of the town, or to not only give the land needed for a new police department building, but to build it too! We need the developers – there is a nationwide housing shortage – but we need adequate public facilities too.

I recently heard a developer, requesting approval from Frederick to develop land, was basically invited to GIVE the city approximately Two Thirds of the property in exchange for development rights on the rest of it. Crazy? No. This was serious negotiation. Doable? Sure! It boils down to higher density or an upgrade in zoning in exchange for a new school site and a public park.

CNN Business Headline in March 2023 read: “The US Housing Market is Short 6.5 Million Homes.” It’s not exactly 6.5M when you read the fine print, but here is another way to state it: Between 2012 and 2022, 15.6 Million new households were formed in the US and only 11.9
Housing Units were completed. Our population is growing – here, there, everywhere. We cannot turn a blind eye to our housing needs.

Since I moved to Mount Airy in 1989, every new development request was adamantly opposed – town and county folks demanding the town council stop growth with the same sentiment: Keep Mount Airy’s Small Town Charm! Village Gate, Twin Ridge, Summit Ridge, Twin Arch Crossing, Northtowne Court, Nottingham, Sterling Glen, and outside town: The Paddocks, Challedon and the one “we” won – Harrison Leishear (the debacle which Carroll County taxpayers have paid dearly for.) Is the voice “louder” today? Sure it is! The population count is much higher, so there are MORE people to speak up!

Here is what I find most worrisome: The median age in Mount Airy is 36 +/-. This means most of the population has not had to help their parents yet – they’re still working, in the family home. They also haven’t thought about where their children will live as adults, they’re deciding what college they’ll get into. Reality: Right now there are not enough homes for our elders to downsize to or our adult children to move into, let alone afford. This has to be addressed.

The Town Council Members are elected to serve the citizens of Mount Airy, but their higher calling is to serve the Town of Mount Airy and to do what is in the best interests of the town as a whole. Like it or not, like them or not, they must plan for growth.