Carroll's right-to-farm law is flawed
I appreciated Mike Burns' July 28 column about the peacocks and the Carroll County Right-to-Farm Ordinance.
Among its several flaws, the ordinance is unfair to a person who purchased property before an objectionable agricultural practice was started nearby. This feature of the ordinance is especially inequitable where there was no reasonable expectation that adjoining property would be used for agricultural operations. An example would be adjoining land that is zoned conservation and is forested at the time the residential property is purchased, but that could later be converted to an agricultural operation and protected under the ordinance. As a result, the value of the residential property could be lowered, even though the purchaser of that property was not "on notice". I pointed out this fundamental flaw to the commissioners at the time the ordinance was under consideration, but my advice was ignored. (The public was given an unreasonably short time to comment on the ordinance.)
Richard E. Geyer
In support of skateboarders
As the mother of a skateboarder, I feel compelled to respond to Elmer Lippy's view of skateboarders (Carroll Viewpoints, "Why Don't People Like Skateboarders? Well ," Sept. 1.)
I agree that skateboarding does destroy property and some skateboarders do litter. Could some of the arrogant and destructive behavior be a result of frustration and negative interaction with some adults?
I do not condone any of these behaviors. However, if a facility was available for youths to practice this sport, Mr. Lippy wouldn't have such a point of view. What he has observed is the result of not having an adequate facility for this sport. On several occasions, I have taken my son and his friends to Columbia, Pa., to an indoor skateboarding facility. They skated on various ramps and all of their trash was put into trash receptacles. They weren't arrogant nor did they destroy any property. His friends' parents have done likewise. Skateboarding is a lucrative business. Skateboarders and their parents spend a lot of money on this sport. And their parents, as well as some of them, do vote.
Mr. Lippy, please explain how these skateboarders are supposed to practice their sport? Who knows, one year a skateboarder could make the people who don't like them proud by bringing home a gold! (The Olympic Committee does recognize skateboarding as a sport). All youths need to feel that their wholesome endeavors are respected and important, and adults will be supportive in these endeavors.
I do hope that Mr. Lippy will attain his goal of selling the council on constructing a ramp(s) at Westside Park by actively and aggressively pursuing it.
Wine grapes good alternative crop
One item in the August 17 article about promoting small crops in Howard County was only briefly mentioned: Wine grapes are a very profitable commodity and one currently in great demand in Maryland by amateur winemakers and commercial wineries, who presently have to go out-of-state to meet their ever-increasing needs.
A ton of grapes can be produced in as little as a quarter-acre and bring in close to $2,000, depending on variety. It is an ideal crop for hobbyists, agriculture-minded persons with limited acreage and full-time farmers looking for adjunct or replacement crops. And judging from the increasing popularity of state wine festivals, the end product has a lot more appeal than bok choy.
The writer is with the Maryland Grape Growers Association.
Looking back with rose glasses
I see again readers jumping to conclusions when they read two different articles. "Somehow they must relate?," the reader asks and then interprets the meaning to his or her own prejudice. Such was Selma Pollack's correlation between women getting better jobs and the increase of drug use among teen-agers. (Letters to the editor, "Drug use related to women working," Aug. 31).
I would like Selma Pollack to think of a few other things. The 1950s may be an anomaly. Before then, many mothers worked. They worked in the canning factories, they took in laundry, they did "homework," and they were domestics. Most of these women were from the working-class backgrounds and much of their work was not recorded. But they did work and they did have families and they did not seem to face the drug problems we have today.
Let us shift forward to the late '50s, the '60s and '70s when young people by the droves turned on, tuned out and tried ever more drugs. Today, many of these people are respected citizens. Yet no one wants to suggest the sins of the fathers and mothers.
This is not a partisan issue, nor a gender issue. It is a problem that needs solutions and owning up to our own drug past that many look back on as the "better days."
County owes a big debt to farmers who didn't sell
A special meeting was requested by the Carroll County Landowners Association and held before the commissioners on August 22. Our concerns were simple. Although there are several different groups in this county representing all sorts of views, there is one thing in which we all agree: Almost everyone moved to Carroll to enjoy the rural atmosphere generated by rolling farmland.
We all owe a great debt to the thousands of farmers who chose not to develop their farms prior to 1978 when they could have cashed out with huge profits. Instead, they made a commitment not to develop their property, notwithstanding this enormous financial sacrifice. These farmers still own about 85 percent of the land in Carroll.
The Constitution of the United States clearly dictates that there shall be equal representation in our government. This certainly suggests that five of the seven planners on the planning commission should be from the farm community, representing farmers who have not sold their development rights.
But during this meeting, farmers were very gracious. They did not demand that all three of the new planners be picked from this group, as some would agree they were entitled. They only requested that one planner be chosen from their constituency. Not really enough to make much of a difference in planning decisions, but at least they at long last would have a small voice on their planning board.
Several names and resumes were submitted for consideration by CCLA as well as others who submitted their own but were also supported by this group. It seemed outrageously inconceivable that this plea could be ignored.
County Commissioner Ben Brown gave a compelling and touching speech as to the hardships of the farmers. He and Commissioner Richard Yates gave assurances that all applicants would be interviewed and considered before any decision was made. But as in the past, their promises rang hollow.
Not one applicant was even interviewed. These commissioners had clearly made commitments to the no-growth groups in South Carroll. Neither reasoning nor fairness could change their minds.
These commissioners need to know that between their insufferable behavior concerning Bob Lemmon's impeachment and the clear and decisive disdain they have shown toward the farmers of this county, they have woken a sleeping lion.
It is because of this behavior that CCLA has grown from a small group of six early this year to membership that now exceeds more than 500 with applications being received daily.
It should also be noted more than 10 percent of the members now consist of non-farmers -- good citizens fed up with the treatment this government has given to the very people who made it possible through great sacrifice for all of us to enjoy our rural way of life. I personally was touched and give great thanks to the large number of non-farming citizens who called and wrote about their outrage concerning the commissioners' decision not to allow even one planner from the landowner/farming community.
If the applications for membership in CCLA continue to be received at the current rate, and I have no reason to believe they won't, our membership will exceed 5,000 sometime next year -- certainly by the next election, when we can teach these commissioners what democracy is really about.
The writer is president of the Carroll County Landowners Association.
Pub Date: 9/15/96