From Ellen Rhudy
Since when has the Sunpapers offered free half-page advertising?
I didn't know your paper was so generous until Sept. 8, when I read the long communique from Donald Reuwer.
It was not in the form of a letter to the editor or an intercepted letter, but rather the form of a guest editorial. A guest editorial? Come on.
It was only a platform for Reuwer to hawk his snake-oil product, the ill-fated Waverly Woods. If that's not advertising, I don't know what is, so where's your money?
Which makes me wonder -- whom else is Mr. Reuwer getting freebies from? It bears investigation.
SELL ME ANOTHER THING
From: Martha L. Murphy
As I read Donald Reuwer's article on the virtues of the Waverly Woods project, I found myself thinking of titles of such books as "The Art of Selling Anything" and "The Power of Persuasion."
I get the feeling that Reuwer is tryingto use a sales technique or two of his own to convince us concerned citizens that the proposed project is something that we really need in this area, sort of like having a miniature Columbia just a hop and a skip away.
Reuwer seems to be saying, "Well, what do you guys want, a
planned community or an unplanned community?"
He doesn't mention the third option, which is the choice of having no major development at all by leaving the present 3-acre zoning restriction as itis.
Nothing against Columbia. It's a nice place, but my family chose to live in a more rural section of the county.
Call me old-fashioned, but I like the fact that my house is separated from the stores and offices by more than a tree-lined bike path.
Now, about thatlast point Reuwer mentions, where he claims there will be a reduction in automobile dependency in the community.
It sounds good at first, but it really just applies to the confines of the new proposed project itself.
There is no mention of the inevitable, tremendous increase in traffic on Route 99 and Marriottsville Road.
By doing some simple math I figure that if, as Reuwer states, one person out of each of the 937 families of the proposed households works in the proposed employment center where6,600 jobs would be available, that meansthat 5,663 people would still have to come from somewhere else to work there.
That's increased automobile dependency in my book!
This planned community does not harken back to my childhood.
I did walk to school and to other activities, but that was only out of necessity. It was also a time when parents could let their children walk alone even at night without fear.
Today, I would never allow my children to walk alone any farther than a block or so, and all the park-like settings and jogging paths you can construct would not relieve my fear for their safety.
When I pass though that rural area along Route 99 and Woodstock Road, I see the forests where wildlife make their home, rolling hills of farmland interspersed with houses, and in those things I see my childhood.
But when you look at that same area, Mr. Reuwer, you probably just see dollar signs.
Shortly after the GTW Development Group put on their dog-and-pony show for the residents of the Waverly Woods area in July, The Sun printed an editorial accusing the opponents of the proposed project of having a merely hysterical reaction to a worthy project.
The cry of "hysteria" from the editorial writers of The Sun is partly true, but, more importantly, it is partly false. It conceals more than to reveals and constitutes a failure to comprehend what is going on with these people in Howard County.
One can see in these rumblings of dissension more than just the blindreactions of threatened selfishness, though there is certainly some of that.
One can discern in them the elements of efforts to engagein true self-government, the desire to not only reclaim the ability to affect the future of their community, but to raise the level of political discourse to a higher level.
Many people want to put things in a perspective free from the debilitating influences of mere power politics.
People want to see something more meaningful emerge from this struggle with city (county) hall than merely making trades for higher property values, though that is the cynicism which underliesboth the development group's effort to buy off the local populace, as well as the editorial comments by The Sun.
Apparently, the moralvision of the editorial writer of The Sun is as cribbed and confinedas that of any developer, and the effort to brand the attempts of those residents to engage in meaningful self government mere "hysteria"will not alter the significance of their dissatisfaction.
How oneunderstands what is at stake in the commotion over the proposed Waverly Woods project is important in understanding what has happened to the efforts of Americans to engage in true self-government.
Some of our residents merely want others -- our self-styled "experts" and "officials" -- to decide for them how the affairs of government are tobe conducted.
This is a conservative attitude, but a kind of mindless conservatism pernicious in its endorsement of political passivity.
Others, less timid and afraid of life, are taking some small steps toward reclaiming the power of self-government; they are activelyengaged in opposing the tendency of the current county administration to roll over for developers like the GTW group.
The hysteria charge has been resurrected and given new life recently.
Well might Mr. (Donald) Reuwer shake his head in disbelief (The Howard County Sun, Sept. 8) that the people along Route 99 are unsupportive of his Waverly Woods project.
The two camps live in entirely different worlds. But these other folks want something clean to come out of the political process for a change; that's why they are unwilling to wheel-and-deal with the Reuwers of this world. And they intend to have a say in a decision which would so radically alter their lives.
Much will decided in the coming weeks and months by the extent to which real self-government and true representative democracy can be re-established in Howard County.
To date, only one council member in any of The Sun articles has said anything about talking to a constituency about these issues.
By contrast, several other members seem to have social activists' agendas that exists quite independently of the wishesof the electorate; one doesn't get the feeling that these people arestrong believers in representative democracy.
Much will depend upon whether County Council members continue to listen closely to the people who put them in office.
PROJECT LABELED POISON
From: CharlesA. Aston
This letter is in response to Don Reuwer's article on the benefits of his proposed "682-acre project free ofpiecemeal flaws."
I agree with you that the development along Route 40 in Ellicott City is ugly. Development like that is the aesthetic equivalent of a large dose of strychnine.
What you propose to dois to finish off the patient with a dose of arsenic.
A massive commercial development such as Waverly Woods is just as out of character in this part of Howard County as would be a petroleum refinery, tannery, steel plant, nuclear waste disposal facility or rendering plant.
None of it belongs here.
You are correct in saying that the planned 936 housing units to be built over 20 years is extremely modest when compared to recent development in the area.
Three-acre lot zoning should have been enforced from the beginning!
With 3-acre zoning, your 682 acres will produce only an additional 227 units, a more reasonable burden for our schools, roads and protective agencies to accommodate.
Columbia and Reston, Va., are both examples of planned communities with industrial areas and housing intermingled. They are acceptable to those who wish to live in that sort of environment.
The residents of Ellicott City would be living in those places ifthey found them desirable.
The fact that we chose to live in thisbeautiful uncrowded setting away from "employment centers" is an indication of how we feel about them. We moved here to get away from that environment.
Columbia was planned with the idea of being self-contained. The residents would be able to work, shop and live in their community. Columbia has evolved into just another bedroom community for Washington and Baltimore.
Waverly Woods will suffer the same fate and all the extra commuters from those 937 homes will clog up the roads and produce additional pollution for us to breathe.
You toutthe adequate public facilities ordinance as a cure all for road congestion, school overcrowding and all the other problems Waverly Woods will create.
What you mean is that you'll make millions of dollarsand stick the taxpayers with all the bills.
If you seriously believe that Waverly Woods will be so beneficial to the neighborhood, whydon't you and GTW Group solve the problems it will create?
You could pay for road improvements, provide a new school and fire station,procure and set up a landfill site for use by the new community and donate the additional money for police and fire protection.
That would go a long way toward making us feel better about Waverly Woods.
Waverly Woods will be a "showcase community" in that it will be a prime example of commercialism triumphing over the good of the residents of the county. It will open the door to similar developments throughout western Howard County and mark the beginning of the end of ourway of life.
OUTRAGED BY REUWER
From: Robyn Rhudy
Donald R. Reuwer Jr.'s free advertisement in the Sept. 8 issue outrages me and, I'm sure, many of the citizens combating his plannedmini-city.
His first sentence, "The Waverly Woods project is a departure from past growth in the Ellicott City area," is misleading.
First of all, Waverly Woods is in Woodstock and Marriottsville, notEllicott City.
Second, the projects of fast growth in Ellicott City are urban-like, while the projects near Waverly Woods have been restricted to 3-acre or larger plots of residential and agricultural lands.
Reuwer goes on to define the boundaries of Waverly's "neighborhood." He stops at Marriottsville Road, and yet his Planned Employment Centers extend beyond Marriottsville Road, all the way to the landfill and the Alpha Ridge Community Park.
I live west of Marriottsville Road and will be extremely affected by Waverly Woods. It is as if Reuwer is saying that the residents around the landfill do not count or care about a mini-city right next to them.
Reuwer also bringsup the "massive" development east of Waverly Woods. Yet he neglects to mention that he developed most of it, including virtually all of the 15 residential developments off Route 99 and near Turf Valley (1155 units) and the Enchanted Forest Mall currently under construction (137,000-plus square feet of the 559,000-plus square feet).
Reuwer then says that the 59 percent of the land that will be a golf course and that "open space" is "environmentally sensitive."
A golf course and lawn environment with very few trees and chemical run-off directly into the Little Patuxent is not "environmentally sensitive."
As a chemistry major at UMBC on a presidential scholarship, I am awarethat chemical run-off is the leading pollutant of the Chesapeake Bay.
When I was a senior at Mount Hebron High School in 1990, in my science research class, I tested the water quality of the Little Patuxent, which runs through GTW's property. The stream was relatively healthy.
If Reuwer has his way, that will change.
Waverly Woods city does not fit in with the overwhelming majority of houses, farms and protected lands in the area. The development is merely an extensionof Reuwer's development along routes 99 and 40.
He is no longer in Ellicott City, and the true community around Waverly, including myself, is going to defend itself against irrationalism indefinitely.
NOTO WAVERLY WOODS
From: Martin Malarkey III
Having given the issue a lot of thought over the last few weeks, I havedecided to speak out against the proposed Waverly Woods development.
For too long, developers and builders have gotten their way because those of us ordinary people who suffer a diminished quality of life as a result of more traffic, more noise and more crime do not speakout.
We don't speak out loud enough, or often enough, and when wedo speak out and our representatives do not listen, we do not hold them accountable.
The proposed Waverly Development, and I mean all of it -- the golf course, residences and commercial space -- is wrong.
I'm going to speak my mind, and I'm going to get involved to stop the development. I'm going to hold my elected officials responsible. I hope you agree, and I hope you will do likewise.
Diminishing the quality of life is not fair to those who live peaceably in the affected neighborhoods.
The folks who live on or near Route 99 don't want to lose their front yards to roads widening, nor do residents ofWoodstock Road and Marriottsville Road.
Those people that live inValley Meade, St. Johns Lane, Dunloggin and Bethany Lane don't want their neighborhoods changed into racetracks as commuters look for shortcuts to Route 29 and Route 40 or Interstate 70 from the development.
St. John's Lane and Bethany Lane are already unsafe for pedestrians, joggers and bikers and we should not allow it to be made worse.
I certainly do not want the traffic and noise in my community, nordo I want the pollution and crime that will come with more people.
In the past few years, Route 40 has been made to look like Coastal Highway in Ocean City. Enough is enough.
Quality of life is why I live here, and quality of life is what I want preserved. Don't let the developers and builders win.
Stop Waverly Development now. Speakup, get involved, make them listen and hold them responsible.
UTOPIAAND MORE GOLF
From: Pamela Perna
I found it ratheramusing to read of the utopian society Donald Reuwer has planned forus ("Waverly Woods is a planned step in right direction," Sept. 8).
I find it simply amazing that, using only 682 aces of county land,Reuwer will solve such pressing societal problems as unemployment, automobile dependency and environmental deterioration.
At the same time, he'll be providing our children with a safe place to play and giving us what everyone knows the county needs above all else -- a newpublic golf course!
My amusement quickly gave way to disgust, however.
Reading that self-promoting piece of propaganda with the Donald Reuwer Jr. byline made it clear to me that he views western Howard countians as dumb "yokels" who cannot decide for themselves what isgood for them, but need to be show the way by a "higher power," namely himself.
Wise up, Mr. Reuwer. You may be able to sway county officials with promises of increased tax revenues, but those of us whose vision isn't clouded by dollar signs see things a little more clearly.
I, for one, am not buying into your "fantasy land" for a minute.