Plan Safe Development

Readers write

June 23, 1991

From: Janet Eaton


Your article ("Boisterous crowd assails panel for suggesting homeclustering," by James M. Coram, Howard County Sun, June 9) on the following meeting was so biased that it cannot go unanswered. Your cartoon of John Taylor was similarly one-sided. It's time eastern Howard countians and Columbians heard the truth.

Wednesday night, June 5th, the Rural Residential Land Use Study Commission held a public hearing at Glenelg High School. Forty-seven of the 51 people allowed to address the commission were against the commission's proposals. It became clear that the developers know that disposal of sewage and protection of the ground water in western Howard County is a serious problem. They plan to go ahead with development without having a solution. It was pointed out that spraying sewer water would lead to unpleasantodors, and when the ground is frozen it becomes infeasible. Another member of the audience pointed out that the large communal septic tanks will clog up. They could only be relocated a limited number of times on limited acreage.

Since the proposal developments will be unable to have proper sewage treatment, there is a possibility that the people will contract infectious hepatitis, according to one doctor inthe audience.

A representative from Triad, a group with representatives from Montgomery, Prince George's and Howard counties, said they have been looking into cluster housing without public sewers. They found only one county, Worchester, had tried it in three instances. She pointed out that the soil there is nothing like ours. A MontgomeryCounty man said they tried cluster housing without public water/sewer and were forced to run public water/sewer out at considerable expense to taxpayers.

Another speaker pointed out that apparently sinceHoward County is unwilling to extend the water and sewer lines at this time, the developers have decided to go ahead with cluster housing, thus forcing county taxpayers to pay for the necessary water and sewer lines when these systems fail. Prince George's and Montgomery countians are upset because when our ground water becomes contaminated, it will contaminate their drinking water.

We do not have adequate landfill space or schools to cope with the people who are here already. We refused to pay our teachers a living wage and hire new teachersfor an already expanded school population. My son will be attending Mount Hebron High School, which was built to hold 1,000 students. When he gets there, there will be 1,400-plus students. And this is without the developmentthis commission is proposing. Whatever happened to the Adequate Facilities Legislation the County Council was promising us?

There are low-priced homes on the market in western Howard County that are not selling. People don't want the long commute and the inconvenience of living here. So now the developers propose to build town houses and cluster houses that there won't be any buyers for.

As one speaker said, the commission proposes cluster housing and town houses without even knowing if the concept works without public sewer and water. He said they propose to do this to the entire western portion of the county, and if it backfires, we the taxpayers will be left with the problem.

The commission says it wants to create a sense of place and character in the west. Commission Chairman Ted Mariani loves his cluster housing plans. He cannot understand that the people of western Howard County who have lived in suburban areas such as Rockville, where their sleep was disturbed by screeching tires and gunshots, prefer the screeching of a hoot owl. He cannot understand that we love the west the way it is, that there is a communal feeling here because the people who live here choose to and have a deep appreciation of nature. Other people cannot live without the amenities of the city. He and Mr. Talkin, a non-resident zoning attorney on the commission with land interests here, are like that. But they have no right to try to force everyone into their mold. We march to the beat of adifferent drummer. We love our "scuzzy shopping strips" (Mariani's description, not mine.)

This commission is composed of two kinds ofpeople: people who want to sell their land to developers and developers who want to make a big profit from the land. The County Council and county executive appointed these people because they fill their campaign chests.

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