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Development plan forces inequities on North, WestOver...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Development plan forces inequities on North, West

Over the past four years, I have been involved with and followed the preparation of the county's General Development Plan (GDP) and the subsequent Small Area Plans (SAP).

Throughout this process it has become very clear that the proposed development of the county is not equitable.

The northern and western parts of the county are being required to take a much larger share of the development (residential and commercial) than the rest of the county.

This is creating a major inequity in the quality of life of our citizens. We are becoming a county of "haves" and "have-nots".

Other areas of the county have the quality of life; the northern and western parts of the county do not have it.

Worse yet, all of the industry in the North and West supplies the tax base to support the rest of the county's quality of life. Those of us in this part of the county are being forced to sacrifice our rural quality of life.

Does this kind of oppressive policy sound familiar? Any history book can tell you that any time you create a government sponsored society of segregation you will have major social problems.

The government must insure equitable distribution of taxation, services, education, financial assets, etc. throughout its boundaries. Ideally, each of the 16 small planning areas should have about the same land area, population and breakdown of land use.

Obviously, this is not the case. Given the existing diversity of the county's topography, it can never be exactly the same, but any plan which does not attempt to work towards closing the gap between these ratios is flawed.

The 1997 GDP makes no attempt to close this gap and is designed to increase it. At every GDP and SAP forum I have attended, most everyone has indicated that we need to slow the pace of growth throughout the county.

There is general agreement, that we are growing too quickly and we cannot afford to cover the cost of this growth with county services.

In the last election, the strong message with the almost total turnover of elected officials was supposed to indicate that business as usual was unacceptable. The 1997 GDP was a product of this unacceptable "business as usual". As these new officials took office they indicated this "business as usual" was unacceptable. However, instead of trashing the GDP, they have embraced it and increased its inequities.

There are two additional ironies of this inequity.

First, the centerpiece of the plan is its "mixed-use" zoning proposal, which is designed to reduce the segregation of residential, commercial and open space land uses, but the plan segregates most of the county.

Second, the county cannot afford the GDP plan. If the GDP is executed as presently shown, the county will go bankrupt in the future while trying to support the demand for additional services, even after significantly raising our tax rates.

The plan encourages too much residential development and little "high tech" development. It squanders our limited land assets and will ultimately lead to the overdevelopment of the rest of the county in the next 40 years, in a vain attempt to recover from this grave mistake.

How do we fix this?

First, get rid of the 1997 GDP and its inequitable segregation policies and prepare a GDP that reflects the desires of the people and has equitable restrained development of the county.

Next, we need to change the mindset in county government that we owe developers increased zoning so they can develop a lot in the cheapest way possible for the fastest buck.

We need to change the mind set that "bigger" and "more" are necessarily better.

We need to have the mindset to make Anne Arundel County the best county in not only the state but in the nation.

We need to strive to have the best quality of life, which includes the best housing, the best roads, the best business climate and businesses, the best schools with the best-paid teachers, etc., and yes, even the lowest tax rate.

I urge all throughout the county to insist on no less from our elected officials and the county government.

Kevin Fields, Jessup

Star Spangled Banner shredded at U.S. Open

Whoever at NBC that authorized the playing of that rendition of our National Anthem at the end of the U.S. Open golf tournament on June 18 should, at the very least, be deported.

Or certainly not be allowed to use the airways ever again. It was distasteful and disgusting, a slur to our country's anthem.

James Warren, Pasadena

Ethanol fuel solution to county's air pollution

Ethanol can be part of the solution to the "Question of the month" on how to solve Anne Arundel County's air pollution problems.

Ethanol is a clean-burning fuel so its use can help improve air quality, especially in major cities where mass commuting is a problem.

Many vehicles on the road today are already capable of running on E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

But where can you get the fuel? The first E85 station on the East Coast recently opened at the Pentagon in Virginia.

Plans are underway to bring E85 to Anne Arundel County and other polluted areas of the state, thanks to two U.S. Department of Energy grants. The Riva Road Shell station and one close to Fort Meade are expected to sell the fuel before the end of summer.

Will the fuel be cheaper than gasoline? Possibly not on a per-mile basis until gas prices go above $1.50 per gallon, because there is a small decline in miles per gallon with E85.

However, there are significant benefits when we look at the overall economics of ethanol, a fuel produced right here in the United States from renewable resources such as corn.

Not only are there clean air benefits, but the use of ethanol lessens our dependence on foreign oil and improves our trade deficit.

As we expand our use of ethanol, additional production facilities will be needed, providing jobs for workers here in this country.

Once produced, transportation systems are already in place to distribute ethanol fuel across the country.

Will ethanol ever be produced here in Maryland?

The poultry industry consumes all the corn we produce here in Maryland, so it is doubtful that we would have a corn-based plant. However, barley is another starch crop, grown during the winter, that can produce ethanol.

Perhaps tobacco growers will follow the lead of those in North Carolina and grow sweet potatoes for ethanol instead of tobacco.

We don't have any oil wells to protect but Maryland has some agricultural land it would like to see protected from overzealous development. Ethanol may be part of that solution too.

Who uses ethanol now?

There is a federal mandate on federal and state government fleets to purchase alternative fuel vehicles to set an example for the rest of us. President Clinton recently signed an executive order to require the federal government to reduce petroleum use by 20 percent by 2004.

Perhaps our state and county governments can follow suit.

Lynne Hoot, Edgewater

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Grain Producers Association.,

Non-toxic alternatives to synthetic pesticides

Regarding the June 9 article, "Manufacturers agree to phase out pesticide," I have an observation.

In our efforts to fight the battle against weeds and pests, homeowners use synthetic pesticides to "control" the environment.

Despite the futility of trying to dominate nature, it seems we should consider non-toxic alternatives in order to reduce the potential health risks to children, adults, pets, and the environment.

Leslie Ebert, Jessup

Baseball bats can purge evil red-light cameras

The Sun's editorial "Traffic camera on patrol" (June 16) was a bit disturbing. Traffic cameras are a way for the county to make money under the guise of saving lives.

Since running a red light is a crime, why not assess points on the driver's license instead?

I would like to see a bit of civil disobedience to put things in order.

A baseball bat can take care of that nuisance camera real quick.

Joseph Ferrari, Millersville

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