Editor:

Since news of the lawsuit filed against us by Michael Euler, Sr. appeared in The Aegis on April 29, "Developer Sues "Keep Fallston Rural," people have reached out from all parts of the county with words of support and inquiries as to how they can help. We are truly grateful for this backing and want you to know that we intend to defend against each and every allegation in the complaint.

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Today's busy world, filled with work, family and other obligations, make it difficult to participate in community input opportunities. However, if we don't exercise our right to free speech and participate in the public process, we risk losing representation and our collective voice.

We are grateful for the democratic process that exists for land use planning that seeks input from local and state agencies, developers and citizens alike and we are here trying to participate. This principle of community representation was the reason for Keep Fallston Rural – a petition to assist the county government in gaining a better understanding of Harford County citizens' views on matters involving land use and development in the Fallston area.

Reading the entire 175 page HarfordNEXT document and using the HarfordNEXT open comment form was challenging for many. The petition was a simplified way for residents to communicate critical community input. As the county government has consistently been asking over the last 12 months, "what do you want your county to look like," this opportunity to be heard is really "ground zero" in the land use process.

Prior to creation of the petition, county residents' frustration with increased traffic, loss of farmland, growing school class sizes and more intense development had reached an audible level. However, it was unclear that those frustrations were being heard by the decision makers. Accordingly, the petition was created to allow citizens an opportunity to weigh in and begin a dialogue with the county government on the HarfordNEXT proposal.

The petition has never been about a single developer. Rather, the Keep Fallston Rural petition is about voicing county residents' opposition to expansion of the Development Envelope as proposed in the HarfordNEXT plan. This is a direct effort by county residents (not just two women) to be active partners in the planning process. There is a need to communicate to Harford County Government about these issues, so that as a community we can reach a consensus on maintaining appropriate future growth, enhancing quality of life, preserving community character and protecting the county's heritage in a sustainable manner.

Although we are disappointed by the lawsuit that was filed by Mr. Euler, we are thankful that there is legislation that protects citizens like us from strategic lawsuits against public participation.

We encourage you to take part in the process and voice your opinion about land use in Harford County by attending the public hearing on Tuesday, June 7, at 6 p.m. in the County Council Chambers.

To support our efforts in defending the strategic lawsuit against public participation filed by Mr. Euler please go to: https://www.gofundme.com/freespeech-com

Stephanie Flasch, Fallston

Beth Poggioli, Baldwin

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