High Density Fears

Readers write

June 16, 1991

From: Meredith Howard

Mount Airy

I attended the public hearing (Rural Land Use Study Commission) last night (June 5) at Glenelg. I am very upset and worried for the future of our current way of life. I am opposed to cluster/high densitydevelopment for the following reasons:

* The growth will be fast and furious. The roads, schools, community and protective services wehave will not support this kind of growth.

* The water and septicissue is a tremendous threat to our health and our streams. Shared septic systems and water treatment plants will fail and the taxpayers will ultimately bear the burden of this environmental and human health hazard. Many of the wells in our area are already contaminated. Where will clean water for these homes come from?

* The people who live here are here because they want to be away from congestion, streetlights, "convenience" and traffic. We do not want more aesthetic shopping! And besides, your idea of aesthetics may not be the same as ours! How dare you imply that these changes will improve the quality oflife for us!

* Does this mean a five- to 10-acre lot can be subdivided into a tract of town houses? What will prevent this from happening? I do not believe that these recommendations involve the same density as three-acre zoning.

* I support three-plus acre zoning. I would like to see 20-acre zoning and the "uncommitted land" bought by the county wilderness preservation, much the same way that farmland is bought. I do not like to look at a hillside that was recently farmland and is now dotted with homes on three-acre lots.

However, I realize that these sites will not always look as they do now. The newlyplanted trees will grow up and they will begin to fit in with the landscape. Also homeowners will not be using tremendous amounts of pesticides and herbicides the way farmers must. I do not trust the local government to keep the open space open. I do not trust the developersto responsibly trade back undeveloped sites.

The general feeling at the meeting was one of anger and distrust. This partly stems from a lack of publicity about the meeting. It seems as if the commission did not have a good turnout for the public hearing. Posting a notice on the bulletin board in the George Howard Building is not adequate notice for citizens in the west. The only other notice was hidden in the Memorial Day weekend paper.

Government is supposed to be for the people and by the people and it isn't anymore. Decisions are made by the people who have power. The developers are the ones that have put them in power. Our council is supposed to represent our position onthe issues, not the party to which they belong.

This presentationwas flashy and unrealistic. The seven people on the commission obviously are not unbiased. The ideas presented seem to be recommendationsrather than options. Please have more public meetings and advertise them. I would like to see this issue brought to referendum in our area. Howard County areas that are not affected should not be part of the vote.

HOUSING COOPERATION

From: Jerry Dolan

Savage

In response to your recent question (Sunday, June 2) about developing moderate-income housing, I believe that Howard County officials may be limited in what they can do by themselves. I believe that an answer, if one exists, lies in cooperation between government and private industry.

County officials, to encourage developers, could offer some sort of moderate tax breaks on new developments.

These housing areas would be available only to people with lower incomes that are consistent with entry-level jobs. They should not be available to speculators, investors, or people trying to beat thesystem. The tax break to the companies should not be too great, or it would negate the effect ofan increased tax-paying public.

Developers, for their part, should realize that a little goodwill goes a long way toward improving public confidence and a good corporate image.

Instead of trying to maximize profits from new housing immediately, they should realize thatreasonably priced housing will always be in demand, and therefore, easily sold.

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