Housing proposal fight is about zoning rules
In response to your March 16 article entitled, "Residents oppose housing proposal," as one incorrectly "quoted," I desire to clarify some of the points presented by your reporter.
Foremost, the tension from the affected neighborhoods is not with the Taylors' right to develop their properties. Our legal appeal addresses the apparent circumvention by the Department of Planning and Zoning of many county regulations, including: Question B provision of the County Charter, which restricts the authority of permitting Doncaster Road to connect onto College Avenue to the County Council, not the Department of Planning and Zoning.
The failure to require the land owner to submit a conceptual plan of development of all contiguous land holdings.
We find ourselves frustrated, as multi-generational residents of Ellicott City and neighbors of the Taylors' land holdings, by the lack of opportunity to share a early dialogue about the proposed development and the total failure of fair notice regarding the dramatic change of a property this size.
Many of our issues are being shared and voiced by other neighborhoods, as apparent by the increased frequency of land-use articles within your pages.
Curb billboards, curb freedom of speech
On March 14, I read the article on billboard appeals by Lyle Denniston.
Advertisers and manufacturing of cigarette and alcohol are advocating the appeal of the ordinances that restrict the placement of billboards to areas where minors are unlikely to see them.
The concerned companies have as much right as the next company to place advertisements in highly traveled areas. If that area happens to include children, so be it. The companies are only trying to make their product known to the community. Their advertisements are not directed to children; you have never seen a billboard with a 12-year-old boy and a cigarette.
I myself am 16. My parents are divorced and I drive from Howard County to Ocean City every other weekend. I have seen many billboards on my trips, advertising everything from restaurants to soda. I am not influenced at all by these supposed attempts to brainwash children.
We have no right to tell the cigarette and alcohol companies where they can and cannot advertise. This is America, where everyone has freedom of speech, not to mention freedom of opinion. If you don't like what they are doing, don't attack them, counter them. It's your right to put up billboards of your own, wherever you like.
Gordon Brooks Trimper
Sickness frustrates officers, too
I feel compelled to respond to Jamie Haider's letter of Feb. 23, "Justice Takes a Sick Day."
What she experienced on Jan. 29 in District Court was unfortunate and unjust. Typically, if the defendant is sick or unable to proceed with a case on the trial date, the case may be postponed at the discretion of the judge. It is also common practice in traffic court for judges to postpone cases for defendants who fail to appear without so much as the courtesy of a notification.
Police officers are and should be held to a higher standard, however, and in assuming her responsibility, Officer Burnham notified the court of her illness on Jan. 29. The judge could have postponed Officer Burnham's cases. The officer could not have given her caseload to a substitute, as only she can testify under oath as to her observations and actions.
Officer Burnham responded to this incident, conducted an investigation and cited the individual who struck the woman's vehicle.
The officer could not prevent an illness, however, and the judge chose to dispose of the case in the simplest and least equitable manner. No one will understand how this decision will adversely affect you financially, but please know that police officers understand and share your frustration with court decisions such as these.
If you need clarification on judicial procedures or if you require further explanation, contact the District Court or the State Judicial Review Commission.
Robert D. Castor
The writer is vice president of the Howard County Police Officers Association, Inc.
Paying for failures at Alpha Ridge
Surprise, surprise. Residents of Howard County are paying for the county's screw-ups. Ever since the Alpha Ridge Landfill in Marriottsville was built 25 years ago, it has caused nothing but problems.
The newest idea from Howard's elected officials is that residents living near the landfill should pay for the city water hookups into their homes. Why did they put the dump so close to an up-and-coming area where new families were buying their first homes? Why pay if it is not our fault?
The price for front-footage water hookup would be 50 cents per foot per year. That becomes absurd when a person has to pay for 400 or 500 feet of front-footage. The housing lots out here are at least three acres each. That's a lot of front-footage. This is not Columbia.
Perhaps a more equitable solution would be to assess western county residents at a rate more comparable to the average rate paid by other county residents.
Family Life Center grateful to council
The Columbia Council has honored the Family Life Center's 25th anniversary with a special gift of $7,000. The Family Life Center board is grateful for the gift and for the trust the Columbia Council has put in the Family Life Center. More than 10,000 individuals and families have obtained mental health services in Family Life Center's 25 years.
The Family Life Center serves all of Howard County from its Wilde Lake office as well as from the Howard County Hospital Wellness Centers in Inwood and Chatham Mall.
This year, the center will continue to achieve its mission of providing affordable and caring services. These include individual and group counseling, and also groups on subjects such as child abuse and neglect, HIV, women's issues, elementary and middle school social skills, and African-American Youth initiative, Adult Children of Alcoholics and many others.
In addition, as a Columbia resident, I am grateful for the gifts of time, dedication and compassion that council members constantly give to our community.
As I attended council meetings and budget hearings during January and February, I was impressed by the council members' concern for the fiscal and social welfare of our community. While some issues were divisive, the members' dedication to the overall needs of our community was unifying.
The writer is president of the board of the Family Life Center, Inc.
Schools? What about parents?
In reference to The Sun article of March 17, "Private schools surge in Howard," it referred to "a belief among a growing number of parents that the public schools no longer teach some key intangibles -- integrity, honesty, discipline, respect."
If the Howard County elite has not instilled these values in its children from babyhood on, why should the public schools?
The problem is the parents, not the public schools.
Let's put the blame where it belongs.
Barbara Z. Bockmiller
As I was going to work last Saturday, I saw a shocking thing. Two kids were spray-painting graffiti on the side of the building next to where I work in the Inner Harbor.
These kids could not have been more than 12 years old, and already they were breaking the law and ruining property.
Much of this, I blame on the parents. If they took the time to talk and help their kids, this might not happen. The best solution to this problem is parents teaching their kids this is wrong.
A simple family meal can go a long way. This might not be the solution for all families, but for most, it cannot hurt.
West Side project is a good idea
Here we go again. The Columbia Council makes a decision that is not in total agreement with a certain group and it is accused of not listening to the wishes of the citizens of Columbia.
When I was elected to the council, I said that I did not have enough information to vote for the West Side Athletic Club, but that I would talk to citizens groups, survey the residents of my village and talk to individuals who ran other health club facilities before I made a final decision. I did.
First, I listened to the presentation of the Columbia Association staff as to the benefits of building the West Side Athletic Club. It presented many compelling arguments as to the viability of building the facility. I quite honestly was not convinced of the necessity to construct this facility.
I attended the meetings of different civic groups to listen to concerns about the building of this facility. In my village of Owen Brown, I went door-to-door with an informal survey. After I talked to the residents and received such an overwhelming response in favor of the WSAC, I was admonished to remember that I had more knowledge than the residents in regards to the facility.
When I talked to individuals who ran other health club operations, I was told that we would be crazy if we did not build the WSAC.
In the overall analysis, I believed that it would be in the best interest of the citizens of Columbia to build the WSAC. Contrary to the vocal minority that continues to try to derail the decision, most residents with whom I spoke were surprised that we would consider the possibility of not building.
Will this letter quiet the critics? No. However, I honestly believe that my vote (the deciding vote cast to build the WSAC) is in the best interest of Columbia and the citizens of Columbia.
The writer represents the village of Owen Brown on the Columbia Council.
Pub Date: 4/06/97