STOP Pahl's Farm Development
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Recently, the property known as "Pahl’s Farm" located at 4223 Bedford Road in 21208 was purchased by a local nonprofit known as CHAI (Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc). As a resident of the community surrounding this farm, I supported the Pahl’s Farm store when it was open. It was a wonderful place to buy fresh vegetables and other local produce. I am quite disturbed that CHAI is planning to propose a Planned Unit Development (P.U.D.) for the property which will include 66 “affordable” apartment units with a community building and 130+ parking spaces. I am against the P.U.D. for the property.
CHAI has recently held meetings to discuss their plans for this “affordable” apartment complex. Many community associations were not invited to these meetings or contacted by CHAI at all– a deliberate act, I am sure. It is also my understanding that there were many lies and misrepresentations presented to the community by representatives of CHAI.
In one of their meetings, they outright lied to the attendees telling them that the Principal and PTA at Bedford Elementary School supported their project. The principal and PTA never expressed support for the project. The Bedford Elementary PTA has never endorsed them or expressed interest in their plans. The PTA is committed to standing behind the students, their families and the community they serve. It's the reason PTA's exist. When they asked for information to give to their membership, CHAI declined to provide them with material to distribute. So, here we are, being deceived from the very beginning.
The current zoning for Pahl’s Farm calls for approximately 24 homes, which is reasonable. We welcome homeowners to our community. The increase to 66 “affordable” rental apartments with 130+ parking spaces and a community building is absurd. This apartment project destroys the aesthetic value of our community and destroys the market value of our homes that we have worked hard to purchase and preserve. The increased traffic, directly in front of a middle school, excessive concrete and destruction of green space is a detriment to the beauty and market value of the homes in the surrounding communities and will be a burden to the infrastructure of the community. THIS AREA IS NOT A RENTAL APARTMENT UNIT COMMUNITY! WE ARE A COMMUNITY OF HOME OWNERS WHO TAKE PRIDE IN THEIR COMMUNITY!
Flooding remains a constant threat in the area around Pahl’s Farm, particularly in the Villa Nova community. CHAI has not adequately addressed this issue in their meetings. Their only input is that this communities wastewater would drain into the existing system in place and it is the County's responsibility to fix it- not theirs.
As a community resident, I feel we are being targeted for this “affordable” apartment development because we have a minority majority in our area. Our current middle to low income majority minority area is already so over saturated with poverty that its an injustice to the community and those in need of low income housing to place this development in an area that low income people are likely to become more isolated from resources they need. This development should be built in an area that doesn't already have a high concentration of poverty to afford its residents the opportunities they deserve.
Furthermore, the Voluntary Compliance and Conciliation Agreement signed with Maryland this year, identified the census plot of this planned apartment development as a “Non-opportunity” plot, meaning that it had sufficient racial and economic diversity and should not be considered for additional housing for minorities. The spirit of this agreement is not being respected. Based on the findings in this case, there has been a systemic problem with housing planning and development in the Baltimore region that fosters segregated housing. The agreement reads that since data has been provided that measures and documents this housing pattern, the State and other governmental agencies will do their part to ensure things change. The “affordable” rental apartment development does not acknowledge or support the hoped-for change in housing policy and resulting move toward racial integration housing patterns beginning in the 21st Century. We recently learned, in a meeting with CHAI on 11/16, that they intend to use both State and Federal funds for this property. This would be in direct conflict with this agreement and is a violation of such. This is becoming a civil rights issue.
This development would be a detriment to our schools. Bedford Elementary School is already at capacity with little to no room for growth. We need a new school, but currently, we are #18 on the FY 2019 State Capital Budget Request, only for planning. We're not even on the list for funding. CHAI lied to our community members and stated that they had facts stating that we were getting a new school and even outlined a timeline for the groundbreaking. They said it was public information and available to everyone in attendance via the BCPS website. It was false. Lies. Luckily, a Board of Education member was present at that meeting to point out their misinformation. Our elementary school is NOT being considered for a new school at his time. Currently, it isn't even big enough for Kindergarten- they attend Campfield Early Learning Center. 71% of our students are on Free and Reduced lunch. 85%+ of our students are minorities. We are a Title 1 school. Why would anyone want to put low-income or affordable housing in an area that is already over-burdened by poverty?
These apartments will include 33- 2 bedroom units and 20- 3 bedroom units. If you do the math, that’s an allowable 2 to 4 children per unit. That is a potential of 146 additional children. I know this number is just a potential number. It could be less. It could be more. It doesn’t account for people who will lie about the number of kids they have, allow family members to live with them or the people they will allow to use their address so that they can attend our schools. This impact is SEVERE. It is a 45% increase of our current elementary enrollment of about 320 kids. This results in a significant amount of children (who would be in a walking zone) flooding our already overcrowded Elementary school. I feel it important to note that this community would be a zone of “walker” students for our school…meaning they would walk and not be bused. This means that even in the event of re-zoning of schools, this community will always attend our school. It is an indefinite detriment. Our school is struggling with test scores and poverty as it is. Overcrowding the school will put us at an even greater disadvantage. This proposed community will not add diversity to our school- it will promote segregation. When asked if they were willing to work with the county to coordinate bussing these kids to Fort Garrison Elementary where there is no diversity and are grossly under-enrolled., the answer was “no.”
Pikesville Middle School is at capacity. These students would filter into Pikesville Middle School. Milford Mill Academy is already at capacity, where these students would filter for High School. CHAI admitted that they hadn't even considered the impact on Milford Mill Academy. This demonstrates nothing short of irresponsibility to the community they claim to support.
The declining school ratings drops our home values. This impact on our schools and community will not be paid for.
I know what happens as a result of this PUD being approved and funds being secured for this development.
1. They build affordable housing in our neighborhood.
2. Our home values go down.
3. Many people begin to sell their homes. So many homes are on the market at the same time that it forces homeowners to profit less and sell for less money.
4. The houses get purchased by investors.
5. Houses don't get rented because the schools are doing poorly as a result of middle-upper class families moving out.
6. The investors accept section 8 vouchers and the houses all become low-income housing.
7. Our community goes becomes the next County community with inner city issues.
I will NOT stand for this.
The map that they have designed and are presenting to community members is distorted and is not an accurate representation of just how close this community entrance is to Sudbrook Magnet Middle School. This farm is located right across the street. This development would add an additional 130+ vehicles exiting and entering just feet away from the front of the school. They claim that traffic studies have been done, but there is no indication that the standards used for those studies consider the fact that there is a public school is such close proximity. SMMS has 1000+ vehicles entering and exiting the school on a daily basis as it is, and it is very cumbersome for local residents to travel Bedford Road. There are excessive back ups with the current traffic. Nearby communities are flooded with vehicles during school activities and often left with no where to park in their own community.
I want to point out the conflicting information regarding income thresholds for this apartment development. CHAI representative, Ellen Jarret, told us that their vision for this community was that these families would be earning $45,000 to $50,000 a year. 3-bedrooms would be more- closer to $55,000-$60,000 a year. The truth is that not even the most expensive unit has the income requirement of $45,000- the lowest income bracket that she presented. Evidence in support of these facts is evident in that an application was submitted for a $13,000,000 bond from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development in support of their development efforts for this property. In order to get this bond, they would be required to participate in a program where they are offering at least 20% of the units at 50% of the median income or offer 40% of the units at 60% of the median income. I DO NOT SUPPORT THIS PROGRAM IN MY COMMUNITY. We do not have a need for affordable housing. We have not been deemed as an area of opportunity for affordable housing.
Lastly, the address to the farm house on this property that CHAI intends to tear down is 7210 Pahl's Farm Way. It was built in 1895. This entire piece of property is on the MD Register of Historic Properties. My opinion is that this is a piece of history and should be PRESERVED.
I expect leadership who will work in the best interest of the constituents, not in the best interest of developers out to make money off the backs of people trying to live in a decent community of homeowners. I say NO to the P.U.D. at Pahl’s Farm at 4223 Bedford Road. I will fight to preserve the quality, charm, beauty, uniqueness, environment and value of my community.
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