SHRINKING COUNTY VISION

THE BALTIMORE SUN

From: Samuel G. Crozier

Columbia

I attended the presentation by the Rural Land Use Study Commission on June 5 and was stunned by the "herd" mentality exhibited at the hearing. Perhaps those who couldn't hear the presentation can read and contemplate the following information:

1. There are 3,000 new lots, three acres in size, recorded but not built, which will consume 9,000 acres and add approximately 9,000 more people to the west, and more vacant land is being subdivided even now.

Those who don't think these lots will have an impact on the scenic and open visibility ofthe west have only to drive on Route 32 between Clarksville and Glenelg High School to see it first hand.

Almost all of this land is being subdivided into three-acre lots, creating a roadscape that will feel like driving through a subdivision.

2. Except for land in thefarm preservation program, the remainder of the land owners in the west have a right to subdivide into three-acre lots.

It doesn't take an enlightened commission or dedicated council members to tell you that scenic and open space character that you bought into the west for is rapidly disappearing and that there isn't a program in place to protect your perceived bucolic vision of the west.

3. Those who already have their three-acre lots and those who still have the land tosubdivide are bankrupting their own future by not considering alternative methods of development that, similar to clustering, can providethe perpetuity of open space and the privacy perceived by large lot sizes.

4. Clustering does not increase density; it rearranges a given density into a different configuration. The result can be less than 3-acre lots with the residual left undeveloped. The perception of even 1-acre lots surrounded by, or intermingled with, open space creates value.

5. Open space, or should I say, undeveloped land, can be managed in many legally binding methods, including a homeowners association in which individual lot owners in a grouping can control theuse of and management of the land. For those at the hearing who needreal working examples before they try it, homeowners associations exist coast to coast.

6. For those at the hearing who cry out in anguish at the term "developer," may I assume that your lot was not partof a subdivision, bought from a developer?

How many lots for saleby a given land owner makes the land owner a developer? We have seenthe process and the process is us.

7. New concepts in technology abound in today's world because we have a society that is receptive to innovation and one that is eager to share knowledge for the benefitof all.

Those visionaries in Howard County government and numerous contributing consultants have attempted to put forth various ideas for growth management that will protect and enhance the same quality of life we all strive for, whether you live in the east or the western part of the county.

May I suggest presenting these ideas again in smaller forums to the numerous associations that purport to be representative of the larger population?

New ideas are not always easyto grasp, and all that is requested is to provide the opportunity toconsider creative means of growth management.

If you consider it and then discard it, at least you have been enlightened enough to have weighed the alternatives.

ONE HECK OF AN OFFICE

From: Beverly M.Wilhide

Assistant

Howard County executive

The June 26 issueof The Howard County Sun contains an article written by James M. Coram ("New county administrator is eager to begin work") concerning thenew administrator for Howard County.

Unfortunately, Mr. Coram hasconfused a number of folks in his slant on the story in referring tothe "office from hell." In order to clear up the confusion I thoughtI would explain what Mr. Coram is referencing.

The office was originally that of Robert Vogel, deputy county administrator, who was let go in the first wave of restructuring and cost-containment measuresfor county administration.

This office has since been used as a temporary desk for transitioning employees in top administrative positions and not a permanent facility.

Ms. Sanudo will use this desk during her transition period. On July 1, when her appointment is official, she will move into the county administrator's office just down the hall. It's a shame to believe that this small, sunny office might take on unwarranted reputation that might reflect on future occupants.

Editor's note: For clarification, these are the people who occupied the "office from hell" (so called by county workers) since Charles I. Ecker took office as county executive in December 1990: After Vogel was dismissed from his post as deputy county administrator, John Mardall, Ecker's announced choice for county administrator, was to have occupied the "transitional" office, but never did because it appeared he might have a conflict of interest. He was never hired. The credentials of the next occupant, Joanne Nelson, named county personnel director, were questioned by County Council member Paul R. Farragut, D-4th. When Nelson was moved to the personnel office, Janet Haddad, the fired personnel director, was moved to the "transitional" office until she left county government. She was the last occupant prior to Sanudo. Our article indicated that Sanudo would work from that room temporarily.

SUPPORT TEACHERS' PAY

From: Jennifer Sun

Ellicott City

As a student in the Howard County school system, I have first-hand knowledge of the commitment and dedication county teachers have shown toward their jobs and their students.

Teachers have taken time from their own families and friends to tutor students, to sponsor clubs that encourage pursuit of student interests, to chaperon studentevents and to write letters of recommendation for job, college or scholarship applicants.

This enormous amount of energy spent beyond the teachers' workday contributes tremendously to Howard County's top-notch education system, which is one of this county's greatest assets. I am therefore deeply concerned by the circumstances which have led our teachers to "work to contract" in the coming school year.

I find it incomprehensible that (Howard County Executive Charles I.) Ecker and the County Council allowed themselves generous pay increases while denying teachers previously contracted raises. Are Ecker's priorities really in the community's best interests?

Of course, this problem goes far beyond monetary concerns; the extra time and effort teachers have offered beyond their call of duty is too often taken forgranted.

The current situation presents an opportunity for parents to get more involved in school activities by taking on roles that the teachers have assumed in the past.

I also urge the community toshow support and respect for our teachers by writing to Ecker and tothe council, and letting them know how important our education system is to us.

Editor's note: The writer will be a senior at Centennial High School in the fall.

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