The Baltimore Sun

'Smarter Growth' already state policy

In response to "Smarter Smart Growth" (Commentary, Jan. 1), I would argue that the O'Malley administration is working very hard to do just that - make Smart Growth smarter.

Maryland is rich with Smart Growth successes at the state and local levels and in the private and nonprofit sectors as well. Yet we still face challenges on both sides of the Smart Growth coin: protecting areas we don't want to grow from sprawl development and creating compact, attractive development in areas we do want to grow.

It is a mistake not to focus on both sides of this coin. And contrary to what the authors of this column suggest, spending more public money on infrastructure alone will not address our Smart Growth challenges.

Maryland is the fifth-most densely populated state in the nation and is expected to grow by another 1 million residents by 2030.

In order to maintain our high quality of life and the health of the Chesapeake Bay and our existing communities, it is critical that we deliberately move toward the future we want by making the best use of every tool we have.

With this in mind, the O'Malley administration is targeting existing resources to more strategically protect rural lands and focusing the state's multiple redevelopment and revitalization programs to achieve the greatest impact.

For instance, seizing the opportunity afforded Maryland by the military base realignment and closure (BRAC) process, the administration created BRAC zones during the 2008 Assembly session. This unique program will channel BRAC-related growth to Smart Growth communities through redevelopment and revitalization incentives.

Given the history and complexity of Maryland's Smart Growth efforts, it is important to move forward in a way that recognizes the areas we want to develop and to preserve.

This is the yin and yang of Smart Growth, and it represents a balanced approach.

Richard Eberhart Hall, Baltimore

The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of Planning.

Inexperienced leaders may be safety threat

The editorial "Out in the cold" (Jan. 7) questions the appointment of Leon E. Panetta to head the Central Intelligence Agency, and rightly so. But let's recap the situation here. We have elected a president with no military experience who has appointed a secretary of state with no foreign service experience. And now the president-elect appoints a person with no intelligence experience to head the CIA.

All this is happening while we are at war with Muslin terrorists who want to kill us. Is this a formula for disaster?

The bottom line is this: The Bush administration set the bar very high for success in preventing homeland terrorist acts.

If the Obama administration prevents us from being attacked in our homeland, as the Bush administration has since 9/11, congratulations and thanks will be in order.

We all should pray and hope that is exactly what happens.

Ron Wirsing, Havre de Grace

Abandoning animals is a recipe for death

Many Americans are feeling the pain of losing homes as a result of the recession and foreclosure crisis, and of losing their cats and dogs too ("As the recession deepens, it claims many more four-footed casualties," Jan. 4).

But before there was an economic crisis, the companion animal overpopulation crisis (which still rages) was leaving 6 million to 8 million cats and dogs homeless in animal shelters year after year. Half of these animals end up being euthanized because of a lack of homes.

Times are tough and money is tight, but it's more crucial than ever for dog and cat guardians to help keep animals out of shelters and off the streets, by spaying and neutering their pets.

Abandoning animals or handing them over to uncertain fates with strangers is a virtual death sentence for the animals that depend on us for survival.

Lindsay Pollard-Post, Norfolk, Va.

The writer is with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Inaugural letters

Please send us brief letters describing your hopes, dreams, fears or expectations for the incoming Obama administration. E-mail your comments to letters@baltsun.com and put "Inaugural letters" in the subject line. Letters should include your name and address, along with day and evening telephone numbers.

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