Letters to Capital Gazette: Walter Vasquez: Stop thinly veiled attempts to kill development in Annapolis

The Village at Providence Point project — which would bring a much-needed Continuing Care Retirement Facility to the city of Annapolis — is going to be very beneficial for our region.

Providence Point would create a significant stream of tax revenue to the city and would add 400 temporary jobs and 200 permanent jobs to the tax rolls with over $50 million dollars paid in salaries in the construction phase alone. Further revenue to increase city services is especially important during a time Annapolis is facing spiking crime rates and underemployment.

Gerald Weingard’s column last week is characteristic of no growth activists’ narrative of spewing the same outdated attacks across the city to every proposed development project (The Capital, Aug. 7). They argue that traffic in the city is going to come to a grinding halt, that the school system will be overwhelmed, and that building anything would destroy the environment.

With Providence Point, the truth of the matter is that the city has already initiated a traffic study, back in April while school was in session. The data from the study will let the organization plan accordingly and mitigate any impact. It is irrational to think that a CCRC will impact rush hour traffic or the school system.

Another facetious argument made by the opponents of any kind of development is its environmental impact on the area and the city of Annapolis as a whole. National Lutheran Communities & Services has committed to reducing the carbon footprint of the project to address some citizens’ concerns.

They have fully cooperated in reducing the size of the project to preserve Annapolis’s natural resources, including an additional 100 acres of pristine forested land.

NLCS has also worked closely with the City of Annapolis as a sign of its willingness to engage with diverse stakeholders. Between all the land that was annexed to the city with the original proposal and adjacent property, nearly 300 acres of forest land will be preserved among the Critical Areas of the Chesapeake Bay.

This is more than enough reason to believe that NLCS is maintaining its effort to address and adapt residents’ concerns.

In a 2013 letter from the Sierra Club to former Mayor Josh Cohen, the group asked for a scaled down version of the project, agreed that they believed in mixed-use development, and proposed that the retirement center be placed north of the property’s intermittent stream, closer to Forrest Drive.

This new proposal, released last week, complies with the Sierra Club’s demands for environmental conservation. So why do these no growth radicals continue moving the goal post?

We suspect it is less about substance and more about wanting zero development in Annapolis, a truly unsustainable solution.

It is incomprehensible that a handful of “activists,” most of whom do not live in the same ward as the proposed development, would try to bully our municipal government into not providing a service to one of our most vulnerable populations: the elderly.

Every one of us owes our existence to our parents, grandparents and great grandparents, and they deserve the best care that their families can provide. This project would give that opportunity to hundreds of senior citizens and their families.

Just like the Eastport Landing project and the many developments that chose not to try and build in Annapolis city limits, the bullying tactics of no growth radicals has sadly been successful at the expense of the rest of us.

The time for inclusive growth in the city is now. This project strongly demonstrates how development can be a force for good in our community.

Walter Vasquez is an Annapolis business owner and founder of Annapolitans for Responsible Development. Contact him at wvasquez@a4rd.org.

http://www.capitalgazette.com/opinion/columns/ac-ce-column-vasquez-0814-story.html