The GTW Crew's Song and DanceThis letter is in response to...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 31, 1993

The GTW Crew's Song and Dance

This letter is in response to the column by Kevin Thomas on Dec. 20. I'm sick of hearing about the benefits of mixed-use, high-density zoning from politicos, developers such as Don Reuwer and the GTW ("Goodbye Trees and Wetlands") crew and their pit bull lawyers and of being accused of being biased, disingenuous and worse.

John Taylor and the rest of us aren't no-growth advocates and never have been. What concerns us is high-intensity development in an area which is still largely rural and which should be allowed to remain that way.

Do you actually believe that mixed-use zoning will be beneficial? It appears that you've swallowed the developers' line without taking into account any of the negative aspects or the benefits of retaining three-acre zoning where it presently exists.

According to government projections, there are enough existing buildings and properties zoned for commercial use to accommodate growth through at least the year 2014. How much more do we need?

Look around you. Howard County has an enormously high commercial vacancy rate. You say that mixed-use development is necessary to supply moderate-income housing.

Have you driven down Route 103 behind the University of Maryland Horse Research Farm lately? Hundreds of town houses have been built there and other such developments are under construction or planned. Surrounding areas also have a good and growing supply of moderate-income housing. Nearby Baltimore has an enormous amount of vacant housing just waiting to be refurbished and put to use.

Most areas currently zoned for three-acre development don't have access to municipal water and sewer service, nor is it planned. Three-acre zoning reflects the fact that ground water is scarce and much of the land doesn't percolate well.

The developers' solution is communal wells and septic systems, a plan which they cannot show as being successful in other areas. High-density development will negatively impact the existing ground water supply. Many wells in the area are 400 feet deep or deeper because water is scarce. What will we do when the water table is drawn down even farther? When common septic systems and wells fail, every taxpayer in the county will pay the price.

The Alpha Ridge dump was originally scheduled to be closed when it reached original design capacity. Now, due to exploding county population and limited alternative sites, the government is spending a fortune to "study" its expansion. That dump will be expanded because it's convenient to do so despite the fact that it is an environmental time bomb waiting to explode. Will even more intense development make the trash problem better or worse? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out!

Mixed-use development will cost more than it produces in revenue. Waverly Woods II is a prime example. The cost of upgrading just two roads to accommodate it is estimated at $70 million for Route 70 and $14 million for Marriottsville Road.

Where is that $84 million, plus additional money for increased classroom capacity and public safety, going to come from? Right out of the taxpayers' pockets.

Infrastructure to accommodate high-density development will constitute an impossible burden on the taxpayers.

What will we get for our money? Increased traffic, pollution and crime are three obvious answers. The limited advantages of additional housing units and some surplus commercial development don't come close to being worthwhile.

I commute to my job in Vienna, Va., daily so I can live in Howard County. That 88 miles per day is sheer hell, but it's worth it to live in a relatively unspoiled and uncrowded community.

Surrounding jurisdictions such as Montgomery, Prince George's and Fairfax counties have been ruined by overdevelopment. Why should we let it happen here?

You castigated our County Council representative, Charles Feaga, for speaking up against an ill-advised, costly and damaging proposal for intensive development and held Columbia up as an ideal.

I lived in Columbia and I can tell you from experience that it isn't everyone's idea of heaven. My neighbors and I welcome anyone who wants to join us in the community as it is now constituted. Is that so wrong?

Charles A. Aston

Ellicott City

Elitists

In its editorial of Jan. 6, The Sun finally may have caught on to what is happening in Howard County. Modern-day elitists and racists have formed an anti-growth alliance to protect their interests at the expense of other people's rights and dreams.

The school board listens to testimony where parents did not want their kids districted with "apartment people." Apparently children of renters are unfit to be educated with our yuppie kids.

Zoning that would allow affordable housing is opposed because it might affect property values or increase crime. That is, homeowners making only $45,000 per year are bad neighbors, and we will keep out 1,000 law-abiding citizens to prevent one criminal from moving in. What truly preposterous thinking that is.

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