From: Michael L. Chait
The article which appeared in the Nov. 17, 1991, edition of The Carroll County Sun under the headline, "Montgomery affordable housing plan impresses Carroll's commissioners" set off warning bells in my head.
The MPDU (moderately priced dwelling unit) program does indeed sound impressive on paper. However, as someone who has dealt with aspects of the program for the past eight years, I am painfully aware of the differences between theory and reality.
The ideal of interspersing MPDU units throughout the subdivision is rarely, if ever, achieved. The reality is of a subdivision of single-family homes with a small pocket of town houses tucked away in one corner.
MPDUs may start out looking similar to fair-market-value units, but take a walk through one of these neighborhoods five to 10 years down the road, and they are easy to pick out.
If the commissioners are seriously going to consider this option, I hope they will seek some input from sources other than those who are "selling" the MPDU concept.
For instance, ask the Montgomery County Police Department about the high crime statistics in areas with a high concentration of MPDUs. Ask the property owner who lives near the MPDUs in a subdivision about his property value.
To say that such a program "could relieve the burden on government to subsidize housing" is very short-sighted.
This kind of housing tends to be very "service-intensive." The subsidy comes down the road in increased costs for police and fire protection, school overcrowding and demands for public transportation.
The commissioners are talking about a zoning change that can have far-reaching implications.
For instance, in Montgomery County, if a developer buys a 50-acre tract that would support 100 houses under its existing zoning, the MPDU requirement calls for 12 to 15 MPDUs and allows the developer to build and additional five to eight fair-market-value units, a total increase of 20 percent over the allowable density.
Withthese kinds of increased densities, the demands on water, sewer, schools, etc. increase more rapidly and unevenly than planning and zoning has envisioned.
But perhaps the most disturbing part of the article was a quote attributed to Commissioner (Donald I.) Dell: "The politics doesn't bother me. If it's a good program, let's do it. If people don't like it, I don't mind taking the flak."
While it is true that we elect commissioners to make the tough decisions, I would hopethat they would seek and heed the input of their constituents beforemaking a decision on something that could have consequences for our quality of life in Carroll County for a very long time to come.
TAX DOLLARS FOR LIGHTS?
Editor's note: Red and white lanterns will brighten many Main Streets in many Carroll County communities this holiday season. And most of the time, taxpayers are footing the bill. In Union Bridge, for example, the Town Council -- meeting in an illegally closed session -- voted to spend $7,857 to purchase and install lights; officials had budgeted $20,000. Other examples include Westminster's spending $3,200 and Taneytown, $2,899. Electricity costs are additional. The American Civil Liberties Union says towns should not spendmoney celebrating a religious holiday. We have been asking readers if they want their tax dollars spent on Christmas lights and if tax dollars are spent for Christmas lights, whether towns should put up decorations for Hanukkah, the Chinese New Year, etc. Here are some of the replies we received:
From: Charles L. Shipp
Yesto spending a reasonable amount of tax dollars on Christmas lights.
The American Civil Liberties Union speaks only for a very few and should not be singled out in the media as any kind of authority regarding what the majority of us taxpayers want to spend our tax dollars for.
From: Barbara Aiello
As a Jewish family living in Carroll County, we enjoy the holiday lights!
We believe in preserving the spirit of hometown Main Street and holiday lightshelp do that.
But I would oppose a Nativity scene or a menorah. Both are religious symbols and should be mounted by churches or temples -- not City Hall!
From: Verna Karolenko
Thegeneral population, Christian, Jewish and secular, have all come to celebrate the holiday season that occurs in December.
I believe that lanterns do not portray a religious preference and will help attract patrons to the hurting retail sections in towns.
I believe the overall expenditure is appropriate.
From: Ted Stathis
Yes, (I want my tax dollars spent on Christmas lights.)
They are a benefit for all; Christmas lights denote a special, joyoustime for love, forgiveness and harmony.
Yes, (tax dollars should be used to celebrate Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, etc.) Maybe this would serve as a reminder and an education about other cultures and religions.
Instead of legislating separatism, we should encourage acceptance of others.
From: Ally Scott