Is Black really that much (or at all?) ahead in terms of development and piece activity?
Just counting, there are three minor pieces developed on each side, plus the White queen, while Black is to move and can castle. Pretty equal.
Black's three minor pieces surely are active at the moment, but are White's much worse? I don't think so.
Most importantly ...
Is the only way to prevent this to have pieces tied down to defending
that square because to me that seems like a waste.
No, it isn't the only way. There are two other better ways:
If you don't like the positions that can arise in a particular opening then don't play it. Play an opening you do like.
Normally in an opening where one side has weaknesses ...
I did not analyze with a computer and am just giving general strategic comments as a 2100 player.
I would consider 13.Qb5. There may be tactical reasons why Qc2 is preferable, but from a strategic point of view, you want to challenge Black's queen. Your arcane idea of playing Nh5 is tangential. In this position, what is important is the resolution of the ...