www.baltimoresun.com/explore/harford/opinion-talk/ph-ag-edit-development-0123-20130124,0,7660543.story

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When buying a house in Harford, let the buyer beware [Editorial]

Editorial from The Aegis

1:11 PM EST, January 24, 2013

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The Internet and regulations enacted over the years by the Harford County government to make access to land use maps easier mean a quick Google search followed by a few mouse clicks will bring to the fingertips of any potential home buyer details about neighborhoods where they're looking.

So, while it is possible to have a measure of sympathy for the people living in the 42 homes in the new Richardson's Legacy neighborhood when they complain about another 300 homes being built nearby at Magness Overlook, it's only a small measure of sympathy.

Though it's been a couple of years since there has been enough residential home building in Harford County for anyone to be irritated by it, it appears that is changing with an ever so slightly improving economy. Predictably, new development means the same old complaints about that development. The Richardson's Legacy-Magness Overlook dispute is of the variety that is especially difficult to understand because those moving into a new development are complaining about a slightly newer development turning up on the next field over.

It's easy to criticize a mentality that follows the ethos, "Now that I'm here, let's shut the gate."

Still, there's a certain nearly universal sentiment that we would all like to see a lot less development. After all, moving to a more rural setting is a big part of the attraction of living in a place like Harford County, even today.

The harsh reality of curbing development, however, is that it needs to be done long before lots have been drawn out and construction crews are poised to start work. Curbing development can happen only when the county is setting land use policies, and typically, the only people paying attention then are land developers. Even if others are watching, there's a general American ideal that holds people ought to be able to do what they want with their land – until it affects me.

Until this great paradox of land planning and land use is resolved, a Latin phrase which the Merriam Webster online dictionary says was first used in 1523 remains as valid as it was all those centuries ago: caveat emptor, or as we say in English, let the buyer beware.