Kicking SandEditor: With great interest and amusement, I...


February 28, 1992

Kicking Sand

Editor: With great interest and amusement, I recently read Roger Simon's excellent column about the governor kicking sand on an expert. I must applaud Mr. Simon and University of Maryland Professor Stephen Leatherman for stating his opinion and sticking to it in the face of harassment from Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

Regardless of how one feels about the $44 million in tax dollars that have been spent -- I personally think nature will take its course even if Mr. Schaefer stands on the beach during the next big storm and tells it not to -- the column points out the problem of ignorance in state government.

At a time when business-acclimatized individuals, rather than politicians, should be running government agencies, we the taxpayers suffer. A good business manager would utilize all possible resources in the decision-making process. When a person with the credentials of Professor Leatherman questions the quality of work performed at taxpayers' expense, a good business manager would at least take the opinions under advisement rather than scorn the expert.

Interestingly, in the same edition of The Sun, an article by Peter Jensen revealed poor audit findings at the Motor Vehicle Administration. Once again improper management in a government agency cost taxpayers money.

W. Marshall Rickert, the MVA administrator who admits that many of the same critical audit findings from 2 1/2 years ago were justified, apparently didn't take heed to the ''wake up call'' sounded back then.

In a business environment, Mr. Rickert would have been awakened in less than 2 1/2 years or else be unemployed.

Ludwell L. Miller.


Land-Use Proposal 'Completely Meaningless

Editor: In light of The Sun's past strong support for limiting sprawl development while protecting environmentally sensitive areas it is disheartening to learn that your newspaper now endorses the growth management proposal offered by the Schaefer administration.

In a Feb. 21 editorial The Sun refers to this bill as ''a sound beginning in the fight for tougher curbs on uncontrolled growth.'' The editorial goes on to say that homebuilders, bankers, farmers and county governments support the bill ''because it gives them a say in land-use decisions'' and that ''by agreeing with the bill these groups are throwing their support behind the concept of growth management.''

Unfortunately, a careful reading of the administration proposal reveals a less positive scenario.

Although HB 1195 requires localities to designate ''sensitive areas'' deserving protection (such as stream buffers), it sets no standards or guidelines to determine how such sensitive areas might actually be protected. This meager proposal is made even weaker by the addition of language allowing counties to carry out the bill's provisions ''to the extent practicable.'' In other words, the provisions are so weak as to be almost completely meaningless.

HB 1195 lets local governments even further off the growth management hook by failing to require that local zoning and land-use regulations be consistent with county master plans. This important concept does not appear in the Schaefer bill.

The Sun criticizes environmental activists for opposing this legislation but how in good conscience could environmentalists do otherwise? HB 1195 is enthusiastically supported by all the traditional opponents of growth management simply because its passage would make a thorny and unpleasant issue go away. Otherwise it accomplishes nothing at all and wastes taxpayers' money in the process.

It is a bad bill and it should be rejected by the Maryland General Assembly.

Instead, legislators and concerned citizens should spend as much time as it takes to develop an approach to land-use in Maryland that is economically and environmentally sound and that reflects the best interests of those on more than one side of the issue. Should the administration bill pass, however, we will be unlikely to revisit the issue until 1998 at the earliest.

Does anyone who recognizes the importance of growth management to the Chesapeake Bay and the quality of life in our state really think we can afford to wait that long before taking any action?

John Kabler.


The writer is the southeast region director for Clean Water Action.

Golfing a 'Need'?

Editor: I appreciated your article on the golf courses and other prerequisites for suburbia proposed for northern Baltimore County. I find it incredible that there is a "strong need" for golf courses. It is my understanding that northern Baltimore County contains some of the most fertile soil on the planet and that this sort of farmland is rapidly dwindling.

This article appeared a day after the tribulations of the highly vacant, unprofitable, redundant Hunt Valley Mall was aptly chronicled in The Sunday Sun. Hunt Valley Mall was built on a large agricultural tract.

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