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MontCo officials consider changing laws to adjust for minority influx


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WE: Montgomery County Council members say they must begin catering laws to the needs of minorities, who have now surpassed whites as the county's majority.

The council on Tuesday discussed expanding low-income housing and simplifying zoning laws to help minorities start businesses from their homes.

Minorities now make up 50.7 percent of the county's population and are expected to continue climbing as the white population dwindles, according to 2010 census figures.

"So many of these trends affect our policy," said Councilwoman Nancy Navarro, D-4th District. She said she is pleased that minorities' growth is getting them more attention, but "it is also a bit worrisome because now there is a responsibility and a sense of urgency that goes along with these [census] figures."

County Planning Director Rollin Stanley said there is a "serious need" for more rental housing -- especially for bigger units to accommodate minorities with larger families.

"There is a serious need to get people closer to their jobs," he said, citing lengthy commutes for the county's minorities. Many dodge the traffic by working out of their homes, he said.

"People starting businesses in their houses -- this is going to increase," he said, citing statistics that immigrants are 30 percent more likely to start a business than U.S.-born citizens. But current zoning laws make starting a businesses from home difficult and costly, he said, urging the council to consider simplifying the laws.

The council also should begin making improvements to public facilities where minorities tend to spend their time, such as parks


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