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Sun's argument on rail and trail is...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Sun's argument on rail and trail is flawed

Your Nov. 25 editorial ("Can light rail and bike trail co-exist?") states "that using the [B&A;] trail for future light rail extension in Anne Arundel seems the easiest and least expensive route."

The Sun has reached a conclusion based on information that is neither applicable nor consistent with the facts. You simply extrapolated the $20 million cost of the Alignment 5A and 5B, which includes the rail and trail on the same roadbed, and applied this cost base to the entire 13.5 miles of the trail.

Had you done any investigation, research or even visited the trail, you would realize that the trail is not the wide flat highway found in Alignment 5A and 5B, but a 10-foot strip of macadam surrounded by hills, deep ravines, numerous street crossings and bridges that will require an enormous amount of site preparation. Also, had The Sun contacted MTA's project manager for this project, I am certain he would have advised you that it would be foolhardy and reckless to base the cost of the Glen Burnie-Annapolis B&A; trail-light rail extension on the costs generated for the Glen Burnie extension.

In addition, there are numerous wetlands areas within the B&A; Trail's 66-foot right of way that are protected by state law. There is no easy, inexpensive or legal way to destroy these protected wetlands, which would happen if the light rail and B&A; Trail were to be constructed using the full width of the trail right-of-way.

I am certain that had you known of these facts, you would have reached a different conclusion.

Stan Lebar

Severna Park

The writer is president of The Friends of the B&A; Trail, Inc.

Differing ideas make state's GOP flourish

With the recent appointment of Bob Neall to the late Jack Cade's District 33 Senate seat, The Sun has given the residents of Maryland a view of the internal workings of a growing Republican Party that joins many people with different (and sometimes opposing) ideas.

All of these people have a common desire to see the Republican Party flourish in Maryland. I believe that people are attracted to the Republican Party based on its ideals. These people will stay with the party based on the desire of its leaders to stick to those ideals. During the recent appointment process for Mr. Cade's seat, the residents of Anne Arundel County were given a chance to state their opinions openly and honestly. Many of them are gratified to have taken this opportunity, which in the past they have too often neglected. The opportunity to have these discussions and to express opinions is crucial to any political system. Such discussions will continue to solidify and strengthen unity within the Republican Party.

I congratulate Mr. Neall on his appointment to the seat, and I am certain that he will work for all the residents of District 33 and for the state of Maryland. I also congratulate the Anne Arundel County Central Committee for discussing and listening to the candidates, their ideas and the opinions of the residents of Anne Arundel County in an open and honest debate.

Allen Furth

Annapolis

The writer is a member of the Anne Arundel County Young Republicans Club.

'Loose cannon' or a case of hysterical opposition?

We have a loose cannon plunging wildly across the gun deck of formerly quiet and stable residential property ownership in Anne Arundel County. It could maim or squash every residential owner on board.

The "cannon" is the spot-insertion of commercial enterprises blasted into the midst of zones that used to be reserved for private residences. The aroused uncertainties have dropped nearby private residential property values sharply (as much as $35,000, estimated by one owner's real estate adviser). No one can be assured that some new group-home won't suddenly drop in for the (likely) brief duration of its profitability, and then decay, along with its residents, into yet another bankruptcy.

Vacant lots in subdivisions, and even converted existing structures, may be put to the 15-or-less-residents usage. That would truly clobber the market value of Mr. and Mrs. Smith's family home down the block. All residential owners should cry "foul" to county and state officials to prevent either de-stabilizing code revisions or the laxity of strict code-enforcement (in particular cases) from harming them. Regain control of that loose cannon. Lash it safely down. Spike it!

Wallace Hankins

Severna Park

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I was puzzled and somewhat saddened to see the article covering the protest of the construction of the assisted living facility on Arundel Beach Road by some of my neighbors -- puzzled as to the reason why some in the neighborhood would object at all, and saddened because of the tactics employed by them. My family lives within four doors of the facility. For some time now, some person or group has been circulating fliers in the neighborhood, protesting the planned construction of the assisted living facility in rather hysterical terms.

The fliers carefully set out the names, addresses and phone numbers of just about every local official, urging the recipient to write in protest, but conveniently omit the name or names of those circulating the flier and any other contact or identifying information. I assume the author and circulator of the fliers, the persons who have challenged the building permit and the protesters pictured in your article are some of the same parties. But for want of any better information, I'll refer to this person or persons as "Anonymous."

Although somewhat skeptical when I attended the presentation given last year at the Greater Severna Park Community Council meeting, I have been favorably impressed by the assisted living concept being implemented on Arundel Beach Road.

Rather than the high-rise and somewhat institutional-appearing accommodations on McKinsey Road or the Gothic spires being constructed near Woods Memorial, the single-story Arundel Beach Road facility is built on a residential scale, intended to accommodate up to 15 senior citizens in a home-like group setting.

Each resident would have private quarters, with common areas lTC for recreation and dining. A limited number of staff members would come to prepare meals and provide other support services. But for the most part, the facility would be the residents' home, pure and simple.

Even at that first meeting, however, some of those in attendance were scathing in their opposition, albeit somewhat inconsistently. The developer will make too much money, or he might not make enough and go out of business, leaving a commercial structure in a residential area. He might let "outsiders" into the facility, or he might not get enough residents from the Severna Park area and go out of business, etc. He has planned for too many residents, or too few, whereupon he might go out of business.

Well, you get the picture.

Fast-forward to the building permit appeal hearing held a couple of months ago at the Arundel Center. Cued by another hysterical flier, I attended the meeting, and was stunned to learn that, not being satisfied with the developer's responses to the community concerns (including a complete redesign of the facade and a 10 percent reduction in size), Anonymous had filed a protest of the issuance of the building permit.

At the end of a very long evening, I had not heard one solid reason advanced why the permit had been issued in error. In a conversation during a break, one of the opponents acknowledged that there probably was no significant error, but nonetheless felt that the developer had "taken advantage" of the neighborhood.

I agree that advantage was being taken, but not by the developer: At a cost of a couple of hundred dollars, a handful of my neighbors have succeeded in forcing the developer to rejustify the issuance of the building permit, in the process spending literally thousands of dollars in attorney, engineer and architect fees to repeat what had been presented (and approved) months before.

I urge my neighbors to re-evaluate their opposition to the facility. Too big? Within a half-mile radius, there are at least a half-dozen personal residences with square footage equivalent to the facility, and many more with visually more imposing facades. Too much traffic? Sad to say, if the families of the residents are typical of those of the residents of most senior facilities, the extra vehicular traffic will not be excessive. Too commercial? In appearance, the facility blends with the neighborhood. And if the objection is to the possibility that the developer will make money, well in a county as heavily Republican as Anne Arundel, I would find that argument highly ironic.

In the absence of any clear evidence that an error was made in issuing the building permit, I urge them to put aside the guerrilla tactics and scorched-earth campaign, and be open to the possibility that the assisted-living facility being constructed down the street may actually add to the quality of life in the community.

Steven G. Tyler

Severna Park

Pub Date: 12/15/96

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