Developers, Spare The Ax

Readers write

August 07, 1991

From: Morris Smith

Ellicott City

I have lived and done business in Howard County since 1937. I gotup a petition to get mail delivery and electric lines along Montgomery Road long before they built Ellicott Mills School.

I now live in Glenmar on Elko Drive, just one house from the new development of Montgomery Meadows, where they are raping the old Andy Kraft farm. Thedeveloper for NV Homes has laid the land bare of trees between our yards and the new development.

It's a damned shame to knock down a whole line of trees for half a mile like they did. They could have spared some of them.

I know the land will be developed, but we don'thave to take down big trees growing on the very edge of the line along a little stream, which they also have filled in.

The developer doesn't care, and the county allowed it.

This is too typical of what I have experienced over the years in Howard County.

The county has done things like rezoning the area around Stonecrest and the new development of Wheatfields off Montgomery Road from a half-acre down to smaller lots to get more houses in.

We already have too much traffic on the roads in the Eastern County like 104 and 108.

When they dump hundreds more cars onto our roads off from Elko Drive and Glenmar Road, people won't even be able to get to work.

It seems likeHoward County is more interested in protecting developers from out of state than protecting the taxpayers who live and work here in the county.


From: Carol A. Arscott


Howard County Republican Central Committee

Ellicott City

In a stunning display of inverted logic, County Council Chairman C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, announced last week that the council would be hiring its own attorney to advise it on councilmanic redistricting.

Thevote to ratify Gray's decision split the council, 3-2, along party lines.

"We're going to need legal representation for the three Democrats to fend off the Republicans," Gray declared.

Let me get thisstraight: The council's Democrat majority is going to hire its own lawyer at taxpayer expense to protect itself from the Republican minority.

And not just any lawyer! Former U.S. Attorney General Benjamin R. Civiletti has agreed to reduce his fee from $400 to a mere $150 an hour to ensure that Gray, Farragut and Pendergrass aren't swamped by those clever Republicans. What a guy!

There are several issues raised by Gray and his Democratic colleagues that demand to be addressed:

* First, Gray has suggested that the reason the council must retain its attorney is due to a potential conflict with the county executive. The only issue that could possibly arise in this regard is whether the executive has veto power over the new councilmanic lines.

Gray seems to be anticipating receiving an opinion from the countysolicitor that he won't like. The County Charter does permit the council to contract an outside attorney in cases of conflict, but nothing has happened yet.

There is no map, so there is nothing to veto.

In any case, hiring expensive outside counsel demonstrates an incredible lack of sensitivity to the 40 county employees recently laid off because of a shortage of funds and an appalling lack of faith in the professionalism of their employees in the county's Office of Law.

* In the same vein, Councilman Pendergrass referred to what she apparently views as the inevitable court battle between the council andthe Republican Party.

"When the Republicans take (the redistricting plan) to court, we'll see who's causing the government to spend big," she said.

The fact is, the grounds for taking a redistricting plan to court are rather narrow.

Why are the council's Democrats so certain that's where they'll end up? Do they plan to ignore the provisions of the U.S. Constitution or the County Charter?

Will the five districts fail to have roughly equal populations? Will they violate the Voting Rights Act by reducing the minority voting strength in Council District 3? Or will the partisan gerrymander they propose be so blatant that no judge could fail to see their intentions?

A court battle is not inevitable at all, not if the Democrats on the council obey the law. We can't go to court without grounds for a suit.

The council can decide here and now to save the taxpayers thousands of dollars by simply doing the right thing, because litigating this map is not part of our master plan.

But let me assure you, if the Democrat majority on the council fails to obey the law, we will see them in court.

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