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Readers Respond

Balto. Co. makes a mistake in lowering open space fees

How ironic to read the Home Builders' lobbyist remark that fees for waiving open space requirements for new developments were so high that it was more profitable to actually set aside the open space ("Balto. Co. Council lowers open-space fees for developers," May 23)! That means the fees were appropriately designed to encourage compliance with the law, which intends to offset the loss of open space that occurs when a new development is constructed. But the Home Builders successfully lobbied the Baltimore County Council to "fix" these fees, cutting them by nearly 90 percent in rural areas.

Studies show that houses sell better when they are located near open space, which could be a public park, or a wooded area with hiking trails. Open space also attracts new business to the area. By making it more profitable for developers to waive the open space requirement and pay a sharply reduced fee instead, the county departs from its plan to encourage attractive, livable communities. It seems to have done things in reverse order: reduce the fees now, then have the Planning Board devise a formula for calculating them.

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The county uses the funds collected through these fees to buy land for public recreation. Cutting these fees will make that undertaking even more difficult than it already was. Let's hope that when the county recalculates these fees, they think more about the benefits of open space to the people who will live in the new developments than about the profits of the developers building them.

Kirsten Burger, Monkton

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The writer is president of the Sparks-Glencoe Community Planning Council.


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