(Rockville) - The Montgomery County Council, as expected, passed the controversial Westbard sector plan today. The only surprise was that the vote was unanimous, with plan critic Councilmember Marc Elrich voting in favor.
Elrich paired his vote with a strong rebuke of the County planning department and Planning Board. He called for the return of citizen advisory panels with some voting power on master plan decisions such as this. His comments echoed community complaints that they were shut out of a process driven by planning officials and councilmembers cozy with developers.
Council President Nancy Floreen noted that the vote was delayed to give the community more time to comment. Yet none of the many comments submitted over the last few weeks were addressed in the plan that was passed this afternoon.
Councilmember Hans Riemer strongly endorsed the plan, taking a bizarre detour into talking about "social justice" and progressive values. What those have to do with private developer profit is unclear. Moreover, a councilmember who supported stripping the public option from the Affordable Care Act, opposes rent stabilization for low income residents in older apartments countywide, votes to demolish that existing housing, presides over a steep increase in the achievement gap since he took office, and whose campaigns are funded by Wall $treet pioneers in outsourcing like Mitt Romney's Bain Capital and Mitch Rales, has some nerve claiming the title of "progressive."
Stay tuned for further Westbard coverage and reaction from the community.