Don't Re-Zone For Wal-MartAfter reading the editorial...


December 20, 1992

Don't Re-Zone For Wal-Mart

After reading the editorial titled "War of Words in Wheatfields" (Nov. 29), I feel obligated to reply. The editorial dealt with the proposed rezoning of property near Routes 29 and 103 in Howard County which, if approved, would allow the building of a Wal-Mart type regional shopping center in the midst of the Wheatfields residential area. . . . I believe The Sun is wrong to support this proposal.

The editorial stated that "the demand for such a retailer in Howard is undeniable. Seniors and families want it. Tax revenues and job creation also cannot be dismissed." . . . Perhaps I missed it, but it seems to me that if there is such an overwhelming demand for a Wal-Mart outlet, why is it that every time one is proposed, it meets with major opposition from those it would supposedly benefit?

But for the moment, let's assume the editors' statement is

correct. Does a development of this proportion really belong within 250 feet of the nearest single-family home? Suppose that a Wal-Mart already existed in the proposed site and the Wheatfields residential area did not exist. Do you seriously think anyone would petition the county to build a home within 250 feet of a Wal-Mart?

It seems to me that a better location for a center of this proportion would be along Route 40. Perhaps the vacant building formerly used by Montgomery Ward would be suitable, or the unused portion of the Burlington Coat Factory in Jessup. If a Wal-Mart is truly desired . . . , then let's put it in an area that is already zoned for this type of commercial activity. . . . People will drive to it no matter where it is located.

. . . Suppose Wal-Mart does locate at the proposed site. Sure it will create jobs, but what happens when it starts to bite into K mart and Caldor's share of the market?

Isn't it safe to assume that these businesses will possibly lay workers off and even close their doors as Wal-Mart continues to cut their profit? Those small businesses currently located at Routes 103 and 104 will also be affected. Located within a mile of the new Wal-Mart, they would soon face extinction.

Sure, they're just "mom and pop" type of places, but they are also the livelihoods of those operating them. In effect, won't we be just transferring jobs and tax revenues from existing businesses to Wal-Mart?

Your editorial states that "the zoning change requested by the property's owner is not unusual and has merit." It may not be unusual, but it definitely has no merit. We do not want to deny the developer a fair return on his investment, but he knew how this land was zoned when he purchased it. So did the Wheatfields residents. To change the rules now to fatten the developer's wallet at the residents' expense is wrong.

Tom Johannesen

Ellicott City

The 9-1 Plan

I am a senior at Centennial High, and I constantly hear about the length of the school year being extended because we are falling behind in education.

There were ideas suggested that schools go on the "9 and 1" plan, where we would go to school nine weeks and then be off for a week with a six-week summer break, or have 20 extra days added on to the school calendar. The extra 20 days would increase the school calendar from 180 to 200 school days.

Glancing at the school calendar, I have noticed how many days we get off for teacher meetings, conferences and a day at the end of the marking period. With all the talk of us not being in school enough, why not just get rid of some of these days off? . . . Any change won't take place until after I am gone, but what about all the students who aren't graduating in the next couple of years?

Shari Levine

Ellicott City

Corporate Citizen

I want to recognize Hunan Manor of Columbia for their outstanding contribution to the disability awareness program (DAP) for Howard County public schools.

The DAP program is in need of funds to continue its nationally acclaimed program, and Hunan Manor responded in an unprecedented fashion. On Oct. 29, they closed their restaurant and hosted a lavish gourmet fund-raiser for over 300 guess. Hunan Manor donated 100 percent of the proceeds to DAP, allowing the program to net a total of $8,000.

I salute and thank Hunan Manor of Columbia for their great contribution and for being a truly remarkable corporate citizen.

Shane Pendergrass

Ellicott City

The writer is chairwoman of the Howard County Council.

Gray's Phone Bill

I had to chuckle when I read the editorial (Dec. 7) regarding a story written by Mike Coram about the spending habits of our Howard County Council members, specifically Dr. C. Vernon Gray.

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