From: Brian Meshkin
It was approximately four years ago that John Taylor, a product manager for Westinghouse, moved to Howard County to a new development in Highland.
After living here for a short time he began a slow-growth movement by the name of "Howard Countians For Responsible Growth."
However, it was not the first slow-growth movement, because many other residents who have lived in this county for years were advocating slow growth in this county prior to his arrival.
In a recent article, Taylor implied that because of the General Plan, our rural environment in western Howard County will change from suburban to urban development.
However, what HCFRG did not want you to hear was that under our present 3-acre zoning, a future change in zoning regulations will allow the ability to rezone, resubdivide and redevelop a 3-acre parcel into smaller lots, which cannot happen under clustering with a permanent remainder protected by covenants.
Under the guidelines set by the General Plan, there will be more permanent open spacethen with the current zoning.
As explained in the General Plan, asimple cluster is a parcel that will be clustered with one house per5 acres. The remaining land will be preserved in a measure as restrictive as Agricultural Land Preservation called the Cluster Utilization Plan.
Ironically, this man who favors the preservation program is also someone who berates this method of clustering.
The hamlet concept is not an urban type of development. On the contrary, it is a method in which a grouping of single-family homes is placed in a compact form. The remainder, which amounts to 80 percent of the land, will be preserved.
Concerning the attacks on this commission regarding public input, this panel gave us the opportunity, the common citizens of this county, the chance to voice our opinion. That is why the meeting on June 5 was called a "public hearing" and not a pep rally for HCFRG.
Many citizens have expressed a disgust with "the proposal" of the commission to cluster town homes in the west. This concept, mentioned as "the proposal," was the village proposal, which was one of many different considerations but was not supported by Councilman Charles Feaga, nor was it recommended.
First of all, the commission does not recommend allowing more development in western Howard County than is now allowed. The present 3-acre zoning will continue in the area labeled by the General Plan "Rural Residential," which includes Glenelg, Glenwood, Highland and West Friendship.
Also, clustering does not mean high densities, for the commission has not recommended that town house or apartment development be allowed in the west. Inall clustering variations, the remainder cannot be rezoned by the County Council for additional development because these easements and similar documents can be upheld in court. Finally, the commission strongly supports the Agricultural Land Preservation Program.
I encourage the citizens of this county to seek the truth and obtain a copy of the Report of the Rural Residential Land Use Study Commission, which can be found at the County Council office.
I am not justifying the use of clustering in the General Plan, because I do not believe itshould be mandated.
Anything HCFRG has said or will say, I ask you to question its accuracy.
READ THE LETTER FILE, TOO
From: John W. Taylor
The Rural Residential Land Use Study Commission has placed their draft report in the county libraries for public comment, due no later than Sept. 7. A limited number of copies are also available from the County Council offices at 313-2001.
I would like to urge all county citizens to take the time to read their draft report and supply comments to both the commission and the County Council, both at 3430 Courthouse Drive, Ellicott City, Md. 21043.
Unfortunately, the report does not contain the letters that were sent to the commission by citizens. This is a glaring omission; it is an accepted practice to include such correspondence in these types of reports.
State Highways, for example, does it as a standard practice in its Environmental Impact Statements regarding proposed roads. Inclusion of the letter file is a good way for report readers to see what their fellow citizens thought of the proposals.
Perhaps the commission does not want the public to see what I saw when I reviewed the letter file (available at the County Council offices): Citizens overwhelmingly oppose clustering in the west.
Sure, there have been a few letters by persons who vigorously support clustering, but if you lookat addresses, most of them do not live where they would have to do actually deal with clustering. The people who live in the west and depend upon safe, drinkable ground water do not want to gamble on sharedseptic systems, "permanent" open space that will probably be developed, villages that are not recommended "at this time" but might be built later, and so on.
The majority want to stick with 3-acre zoning, and that is what their letters to the commission said. I urge everyone who is interested: go read the actual letter firsthand. See for yourself what the citizens are saying.
If you are at all concerned about Howard County's future, please read and respond to the Land Usecommission report, and if you can find the time, read the letter file, too. The letters tell the story.
TEACHERS THANK BACKERS
From: Jim Swab
Howard County Education Association
On behalf of all the Howard County Education Association members, I want tothank all of those parents and other county residents who have written letters in support of our teachers and the sanctity of contracts. It is encouraging to us that there so many non-educators who believe as we do that the county government was wrong in breaking a contract that was negotiated in good faith.
Howard County's reputation for quality education can be attributed to the dedication and endless pursuit of excellence by the county's teachers, support personnel and Department of Education.
However, the 1991-1992 school year will be one of the most challenging periods in the history of the Howard County school system. The county government's decision to break the teacher's contract is having a detrimental impact on education in Howard County.
1. Teacher moral is at an all-time low. While teachers will, of course, continue to teach the county's curriculum, common sense dictates that low teacher morale will be a negative influence upon the educational system.
2. Volunteering after schoolwill decline. For years teachers have been giving up their personal and family time to attend meetings and perform activities beyond their contractual workday. This year, educators will withdrawal these voluntary services.
3. There is a growing distrust of elected officials. Until now, there has been a feeling of trust and cooperation between the school system and the county government. When the county broke the teachers contract, this trust began to erode.
4. Many young teachers are taking night jobs. What will be the impact on the quality of instruction when more and more teachers assume part-time night employment?
5. A decline in the quality of education is bad for business. For years, people have moved to Howard County because we provide one of the best school systems in the nation. It is conceivable that the problems currently existing in our education system will have an adverse impact, not only on the real estate industry but also on the entire business community.
It is imperative for the county government to immediately begin addressing the problems which they have created and to strive toward the preservation of quality education in Howard County.
It is in the best interest of the entire community that the current problems between the educators and the county politicians be resolved.
The educators, parents and the students of Howard County face a difficult and challenging year. If the community canwork together in a bipartisan spirit of cooperation and dedication to education, we can successfully petition the county government to fulfill its responsibility to honor the third year of the teacher's contract and to provide salary raises for education support personnel. Contracts are negotiated in good faith.
Teachers honor contracts --we expect no less from the county government.