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Apr 8, 2022

“In Montgomery County, ‘Neighborhood Defenders’ Fight To Maintain The Suburban Status Quo” – WAMU/DCist

Francoise Carrier, Co-Chair of our Zoning & Land Use Practice Group, was recently interviewed by WAMU/DCist for a story about local challenges to new development in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Click here to read the full article.

Officials say there are multiple reasons for lagging home construction, including the pandemic, sky-high land values, costly labor and materials, onerous regulations, and inflexible zoning. But homeowners who protest development are part of the problem, says Françoise Carrier, who entered private law practice after she stepped down from the planning board in 2014.

“Their main effect is delay, and delay has several impacts,” Carrier says. “It leads to higher costs for real estate. It can even kill a project. The numbers aren’t going to work if the developer is looking at an additional six months of delay, so they’ll walk away.”

That doesn’t mean residents should be shut out of the development process, Carrier says. On the contrary, resident engagement can be an important check against development that’s not in the public interest.

“The public needs to have a chance to have their voices heard,” the attorney says. “Developers and decision-makers also need to know that they’re operating in the public eye. That scrutiny makes them follow the rules and not cut corners.”