Possible Montgomery County bill could expedite workforce housing construction -- Gazette.Net



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Developers looking to build housing for working middle-class Montgomery County residents could get a little help from the County Council.

Council President Craig L. Rice said Monday that the council is considering possible legislation to lower fees and expedite the development approval process for workforce housing projects.

Work force housing is housing available for rent or purchase by those whose incomes are too high to qualify for “affordable housing,” which the county calls moderately priced dwelling units.

Montgomery County faces an ongoing need for work force housing opportunities.

“We should not have many of our public safety folks as well as our teachers that cannot afford to live here in Montgomery County,” Rice (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown said.

Rice said he met Monday with a developer looking to build workforce housing. Other developers are eyeing similar projects, primarily in areas around transit and transportation hubs, Rice said.

“I was just meeting with a developer this morning that was looking at affordable housing options here in Montgomery County and was frustrated with the time that it took to provide something that is so important,” Rice said. “We’ve got to fix those policies, we’ve got to fix those rates that are assigned to things that are a core priority for us here in Montgomery County.”

Lowering the fees and the time associated with the development approval process would help developers get the units built more quickly, he said.

No legislation has been proposed but Rice said it is an issue being considered in the back halls of Rockville as the county heads into the second half of its 2014 session.

“I look forward to working with our county executive over these next coming months to make sure we can change the way in which we do business, especially when it comes to creating affordable housing opportunities and when it comes to making sure that we’re growing jobs and economic development opportunities here in Montgomery County,” he said.

kalexander@gazette.net