Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Dixon Decisions Shape Future of Development

Baltimore's changing fortunes have forced the City into the introspective task of deciding just what kind of town we want to be. And the issues of development are some of the most consequential.

Investors and builders are scrambling to put up new buildings in trendy neighborhoods across town. The government leaders musing these propositions must weigh a variety of considerations, including changes in the quality and quantity of population, impacts on social services, and irreversible effects on historic character. Decisions on development made today will decide the very essence of the Baltimore of the future.

Some major announcements today about the people who will make these decisions. Incoming Mayor Sheila Dixon tapped two City Hall personalities for top roles in her administration.

Otis Rolley III was named chief of staff. Rolley, an energetic 32-year-old, currently serves as Director of the Department of Planning. Rolley played an influential role in developing the city's new master plan, the document that supposedly provides a blueprint for zoning and infrastructure. Rolley has paid lip service to concerns raised by community members but has, for the most part, come down on the side of developers.

Dixon also appointed Andrew Frank deputy mayor for neighborhood and economic development. This deputy has the important role of giving community groups the resources and knowledge they need to improve quality of life on the most local of levels. Frank's appointment is worrying because of his association with the influential Baltimore Development Corp. BDC has brushed aside the concerns of preservation and community groups in the name of uninhibited growth. Under Dixon, Frank will be responsible for working with the very people he opposed as BDC Executive Vice President.

Rolley and Frank will soon have extraordinary influence as Baltimore enters a crucial period for deciding the future of development - and thus the future of the city itself. Dixon's appointments reflect that she will continue the staunchly pro-growth policies embraced by current Mayor Martin O'Malley.

from The League: Reassembled

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