Last One In, Pull Up The BridgeI read with interest the...

LETTERS TI TGE EDITOR

December 13, 1992

Last One In, Pull Up The Bridge

I read with interest the efforts of Cherry Tree Farm residents to maintain the "rural setting" of North Laurel (which, by the way, is considered urban by the Census Bureau).

While I support the proper management of growth in Howard County, I can't help but feel some anger toward those who want to limit growth after they move into the area. My wife's family moved to the Laurel area in the late-'60s; mine in the mid-'70s. We grew up in West Laurel and graduated from Laurel High School.

When it came time for us to buy a house, we wanted to stay in the Laurel area. Because of all the people who were attracted to the Laurel area during the 1980s by its "rural" character, a four-bedroom house on a quarter-acre similar to the ones in which we grew up was beyond our means. Thanks to all the townhouse development in North Laurel, we could afford to buy a house. . . .

My wife and I are fortunate. We are well-educated professionals with good jobs. We will buy a single-family home in a few years. Others from our generation who grew up in Laurel are less fortunate, and could wait many years to own a home similar to their parents'. So to the Cherry Tree Farm residents who want to limit growth, if you think North Laurel is rural now, you should have seen it 10, 15 or 20 years ago, before your development was built, and before housing prices skyrocketed out of reach for those of us who grew up here.

We don't need $300,000 and $400,000 houses in Howard County. We need a greater choice of quality affordable housing in a variety of locations for all residents.

Michael Ratcliffe

North Laurel

Zoning Mistake

I find it sort of incredible to read in The Sun (Nov. 26) that the editorial board wants to influence rezoning in Howard County for Wal-mart. The place to do this is to come before the planning and zoning bodies in Howard County.

First of all, the editorial board needs to take a slow, thoughtful walk along Route 40 from Edmondson Village west to Chatham Mall and observe what poor comprehensive, long-range planning and piecemeal local zoning has accomplished.

Howard County has in place a system of long-range comprehensive land use and infrastructure plans that are meant to guide the growth of the county. A set of procedures exists for implementing these plans, which include planning and zoning hearings that are intended to insure citizen input. People have located in specific areas of Howard County based upon the evidence of the intended land uses. I believe they have grounds to sue the county if the use of their property is impacted.

The system fails frequently when pressure groups and pressure tactics are used to move special interest projects. We call this rezoning by "change or mistake." You will find that some council members make more mistakes than do others.

The recent example of the governor recognizing that if he screamed loudly enough at a member of the council he could have his wishes carried out, is a case in point.

James M. Holway

Ellicott City

Fairway Hills

The fallout resulting from proposals to build a Fairway Hills golf course is mounting over the Columbia Association daily.

One Columbia Council member, Joseph Merke, has already resigned due to a potential conflict of interest. Another council member, Evelyn Richardson, is also running afoul of CA's conflict of interest policies. Her husband is a senior official of the Rouse Company, which would be obliged to pay $5 million to $6 million for building the course if CA does not. . . .

Many residents of the Running Brook neighborhood are upset that the CA staff is downplaying their objections and trying to ram the course down their throats. Financial analysts are showing that the CA staff's golf revenue projections are inflated and that the course is likely to be a long-term money-loser. An environmental expert has presented a report that indicates that the proposed 18-hole course would cause extensive and unacceptable environmental damage in the Columbia area.

In view of the magnitude of controversy and the large expenditure of public funds that the course would entail, it makes sense for the Columbia Council to hold a community-wide referendum on the proposal. . . . By agreeing to hold a referendum on such an important issue, the council would show that it respects the people of Columbia and cares about their views. State and local jurisdictions hold such referendums very successfully. There is good reason for Columbia to do the same.

Alex Hekimian

Columbia

The writer is president of the Alliance for a Better Columbia.

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