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Real Estate & Hospitality

Montgomery Council Proposes No Taxes For Developers Building On Metro Properties

MBS Staff

image: The Wilson and The Elm in downtown Bethesda. Carr Properties

Yesterday’s Montgomery County Council meeting introduced several bills including Bill 29-20 which would forgo taxes for buildings constructed on WMATA properties. Developers who decide to build transit-oriented developments wouldn’t have to pay 100 percent of property taxes for 15 years.

Existing WMATA-owned properties do not have to pay property taxes to the County.

While housing and commercial developments are noted in the bill, the County council members only referred to meeting housing goals during their virtual meeting session.

The lead sponsors of the bill include Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Andrew Friedson. Co-sponsors include Councilmembers Evan Glass, Nancy Navarro, Council President Sidney Katz, Councilmember Craig Rice, Gabriel Albornoz and Council Vice President Tom Hucker.

Will Jawando was the only Councilmember who did not co-sponsor the bill. Jawando said he wasn’t ready to support the bill because it wasn’t clear which type of development would be allowed on the WMATA properties.

“I’m a little uneasy with the bill but I hope I can get there to support it. Good thing it’s coming to our committee so I know I’ll have a chance on that.” stated Jawando. “The way I read it, it covered not specifically housing, it was any development... So I want to check on that. It doesn’t have any requirements for affordability other than what would be in current law and for such a large trade-off, those items would be very important. If we’re going to forego 100 percent of property taxes on these buildings for 15 years, I think we want to make sure that we’re having some requirements around affordability and we want to be specific about the need for housing.”

Councilmember Friedson said he was concerned with adding housing supply to meet mass transit ridership goals. “...If the current circumstances continue as they have been we will end up at the same place that we currently are, which is not good enough, which is not housing enough people, which is not providing enough ridership within the walkshed of Metro.”

Councilmemeber Riemer held a press conference on July 6 at the Forest Glen Metro Station stating that the legislation has the potential to bring 8,600 new housing units including 1,300 affordable units.