Suburban growth could undermine city of Annapolis
The Sun's editorial regarding the redevelopment of the David Taylor Research Center site reminds me that half-truths are probably better than complete falsehoods, but not much ("Cooperation lacking," Jan. 30).
I am not trying to stop the development of the site. To the contrary, I support the redevelopment and served on the original reuse committee. However, the current plans for redevelopment bear little resemblance to the recommendations of that committee.
The David Taylor site is unique in that it is the federal land never previously zoned or available for commercial development. Such a redevelopment must benefit the region, including Annapolis.
I have requested an assessment of the impact of a commercial center across the river from downtown Annapolis. The purpose of such an analysis is to either confirm assertions that the development will benefit the entire region or reveal the scope of its damage to the city's redevelopment goals so that these impacts can be mitigated.
Cooperation is not a one-way street. In December, the city saw an open-ended commercial rezoning plan for the property that seemed to be at odds with the original plan.
We have now been told that the original reuse plan, which I supported, may not be the plan contemplated for the area. When we asked to see the new plan, we were told it was not finished. When we asked if we could participate in its development, we were not invited to do so.
We don't know what the new plan is, nor have we been afforded an opportunity to provide input.
In contrast, the Parole-area planning process has been open and the city has participated. Although we are equally concerned about the Parole development's impact on the city, we have known for a long time that it will be a town center and planned accordingly.
Annapolis welcomes regional investment and job creation in areas planned for it, including the successful redevelopment of David Taylor in a manner consistent with the objectives of all regional entities. We don't want to stop regional growth and development.
I campaigned on the notion of regional cooperation in 1997 and I have not wavered about its importance since then - particularly in the area of economic development and transportation. But for the region to be truly successful, its crown jewel, the city of Annapolis, must also be successful.
Given that 40 percent of city properties are tax-exempt, keeping Annapolis economically viable in the face of suburban competition requires vigilance.
New commercial areas popping up out of nowhere on our edges are not necessarily benign, especially when jobs and investment are lured out of the city in the name of economic development.
Assessing the impact of such new developments is part of my responsibility to Annapolitans.
The most important aspect of regionalism is partnership - even junior partnership - and true regionalism demands job growth and capital investment inside the city, not just in the suburbs.
One only needs to look to Baltimore to see the human and social effects economic flight from cities can cause.
Protecting and speaking out for the city's interests is not tantamount to killing the project.
And if, as the mayor of Annapolis, I cannot speak out for the interests of our region in general and our community in particular, who can?
Dean L. Johnson
The writer is mayor of the city of Annapolis.
Annapolis's tax base is a valid concern
From The Sun's comments on Annapolis Mayor Dean L. Johnson and the David Taylor Research Center, it is obvious the paper has lost sight of the fact that this is a U.S. Navy-owned property that has a process for turnover ("Cooperation lacking," editorial, Jan. 30). The development of a reuse plan, with economic studies, is part of that process.
In the county executive's haste to please the developer, the administration - along with the County Council - failed to realize that ignoring the reuse plan (although it is not legally binding) meant that the federal process then allowed any interested party to request economic studies from the Navy that address changes to the plan.
Annapolis' loss in its tax base is a valid point of contention. A high percentage of property in Annapolis is state or federally owned, so the city's tax base is limited. And the possible move of TCS Inc. to the county does affect Annapolis' budget.
These issues have been pointed out to the county administration, but those who have done so have been treated as though they are the problem.
And The Sun has not helped. Rather its polarizing treatment of The issue may have prevented the emergence of a consensus which would have been best for all parties involved.
Mary P. Marsh
Stigmatizing pit bulls won't stop dog attacks
How many children need to be mauled before people and officials learn it's not the breed of dogs, but the owners who are guilty?
How long will responsible pet owners pay the price of losing their dogs because officials can't enforce the laws on the books.
And what good does banning a breed do? There is always another to take its place.
All dogs bite and can be trained to attack. Go after the irresponsible owners.
But don't blame a breed; that's unfair to the many responsible owners who have well-behaved and lovable pit bulls.
No one wants to see a beautiful little girl mauled, but some people just don't care enough to do the right thing - and they never will as long as the dog and the breed are blamed and banned.
Energy companies win as consumers lose
In the last several weeks, two energy companies have posted huge profits (Exxon Mobil's annual profit a world record $16.9 billion," Jan. 25). Simultaneously, consumers have been socked with huge heating and gas bills from the same surge in prices.
Customer charges are defended by these same companies because of the high cost of fuel and they quickly promise that they are only passing on the cost and making no additional profits.
If these companies were not profiteering from this industry-controlled shortage, their increased revenue would be offset by increased costs and their profits would be flat.
Obviously, the American public is being shafted again.
The nation is happy with the election results
Let me add one more voice to the call for supporters of Al Gore, especially Jules Witcover ("Getting to work on voting reform," Opinion
Commentary, Jan. 31) to get over it.
Mr. Gore lost. He lost in multiple recounts. He even lost in the Palm Beach Post's recent recount, yet the counts go on.
It is, however, certain that if and when the numbers fall in Mr. Gore's favor the counting will stop and the left will trumpet a Democratic victory.
President George W. Bush won 2,434 counties to Mr. Gore's 627. Doesn't that 4-to-1 sweep of counties signal that the nation, not the cities, likes the election results?