THE CHESAPEAKE BAY Foundation position on suburban sprawl was misrepresented by your Sept. 7 editorial, "Saving the bay with a carrot." In lengthy interviews with an editorial writer and a reporter, I explained that the foundation favors a carrot-and-stick solution to the problem of suburban sprawl, not just a punitive approach as the editorial asserted.
Only with a carefully designed system of incentives and disincentives can Maryland, our counties, and municipalities hope to address the 40-year-old problem of development patterns that maximize the conversion of forestland, marshland and open space into low-density commercial and residential development.
Suburban sprawl has not only been identified repeatedly as a central factor in the decline of the Chesapeake Bay, but numerous studies show that it requires more public funds to service than current tax revenues provide. The only solution is for government to engage in an endless cycle of tax hikes to pay for the roads, schools, sewage treatment, fire and police protection to meet the new residents' needs.
The editorial further states, "(environmentalists) see the hundreds of thousands of Marylanders who have moved to the suburbs the past two generations as having committed a crime befitting punishment."
This is not the position of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Nor have we heard any responsible environmentalists in Maryland espouse such an absurdity. Sprawling residential and commercial development is the result of state and local policies that, ironically, discourage redevelopment of cities and towns while providing incentives for far-flung suburban development. While citizens in a democracy may ultimately be responsible for the actions of government, suburban homeowners have committed no crime.
William C. Baker
The writer is president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Pub Date: 9/23/96