The Baltimore Sun

Roland Park proposal imperils zoning code

There have been several thoughtful letters to The Baltimore Sun about the Keswick Multi-Care Center's proposed development for the open space along Falls Road owned by the Baltimore Country Club ("Readers speak out on Roland Park assisted-living facility," letters Dec. 23).

But the point that cannot be overemphasized, and that makes this issue a concern for the entire city, is that this controversy is really about whether our city government will honor its moral and legal obligation to neighborhoods all over Baltimore by honoring the land's existing zoning designation.

The land is zoned R-1, which means it is for single-family homes; the zoning does not allow for large retirement communities.

If the city overrides that zoning by approving a planned unit development ordinance for the land, that would permanently and irreparably change the character of the residential community surrounding the site.

And this would open the door to large institutions moving into residential neighborhoods everywhere, destroying green space and building things that are totally incompatible with these communities.

Mayor Sheila Dixon needs to honor the zoning code and support the community's efforts to preserve its character.

This is an opportunity for her to show all of Baltimore neighborhoods that she does truly want a "Cleaner Greener Baltimore" and that she will support their efforts to achieve that goal.

Christine McSherry, Baltimore

The writer is a member of the board of the Roland Park Community Foundation.

Raise for city leaders sets the wrong example

Baltimore's mayor, City Council president and comptroller recently voted to endorse raises for themselves and the members of the City Council.

The mayor initially defended her action, saying she worked hard and deserved her raise. After a public controversy ensued, the mayor and several other officials donated their raises to charities.

But these city leaders will still receive their raises, and will continue to receive them in the coming years because their base salaries have been increased. The amount of money the city has to spend for other services will thus still be decreased by the amount of these raises.

Will the city be able to give everyone else a raise next year? Or will it lay off other workers who work hard because of lack of money?

The mayor, the City Council president and the city comptroller should lead by example.

Tim Weber, Baltimore

Occupation of Iraq exacerbates crisis

On Friday, The Baltimore Sun printed a letter from a Marine that said the paper's account of the humanitarian disasters in the wake of the U.S. invasion and reconstruction efforts in Iraq "borders on treasonous" ("Series ignores success in effort to rebuild Iraq," letters, Jan. 2).

Let me be treasonous as well. I happened to have dinner with an Iraqi refugee on New Year's Eve who spoke extensively about the U.S. presence in rebuilding Iraq. I cannot give his name for security reasons. But suffice to say that his account was very similar to the one reporter Matthew Hay Brown offered in The Baltimore Sun ("Sun special report: Exodus from Iraq," Dec. 28-30) and not at all like the one offered in the Marine's letter.

This Iraqi (who spoke perfect English, so I could not have misunderstood) was initially in favor of the U.S. invasion and believed Saddam Hussein got what he deserved.

But now he believes that the U.S. should get out of Iraq as soon as possible and that our continued presence in Iraq is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis there.

Paul R. Schlitz Jr., Baltimore

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