Opponents Of Unlimited Growth Aren't Selfish, Elitist 0...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 14, 1993

Opponents Of Unlimited Growth Aren't Selfish, Elitist 0) Zealots

I beg to differ with a number of points raised in the recent editorial, "Affordable Housing in Shangri-la" (Jan. 6).

Yes, Howard County -- and certainly Columbia, in particular -- is a great place to live, work and raise a family. I should know: My wife and I live, work and raise our own three children right here in the heart of East Columbia. You couldn't pay us to move out.

Why? Simply scan the first paragraph of the editorial: "pristine environment, good schools, and countless amenities." The tone of the article suggests that those of us who own homes in Howard County are a selfish "circle-the-wagons" breed of elitist intent on perpetuating the status quo. . . .

But we are definitely not elitist. To the contrary, the majority of residents inhabiting my lovely town house community are regular, decent folk. Firemen, policemen, teachers; middle-class all the way. You can buy a home in my neighborhood for less than $110,000, and I promise we won't hire a private detective to ascertain whether you fall into the "undesirable" category.

Howard County doesn't need to "increase its stock of affordable housing." My neighborhood is surrounded by apartments, duplexes and town houses. What my neighbors and I fear are the unpleasant ramifications of increased density -- congested roads, overcrowded schools, lower property values and crime.

We who live and put down roots here don't want Howard County to follow the course Prince George's and Montgomery counties have already charted. Can you blame us?

John C. Orem

Columbia

It is very sad to open the newspaper each week and see the supposedly objective and impartial Sun so blatantly take sides in the growth issue.

The pejorative term "no-growth," a device used by the developers to portray as extreme anyone who does not want a gaggle of new development in our already quite developed county, has evidently been adopted by The Sun as a standard descriptor. Those who want to moderate, limit and control development are portrayed as selfishly pulling up the drawbridge after entering. . . . Well, in its unbridled pro-development zeal, The Sun editorial staff underrates the intelligence of their readership.

Howard County is filled with experienced, intelligent people. . . . No one really believes that opposition to radical upzonings is equivalent to wanting all growth to stop altogether. What people can see is that even in periods of high growth, taxes still rise, and few really believe that massive new growth will cause anything but massive new tax liabilities and tax increases.

They see more overcrowding of schools and roads that are already straining. . . . People can also see that certain politicians pushing the hardest for massive new growth are also the same politicians who accept the most money from developers. Thankfully, people here can also vote, a lesson learned by Liz Bobo in 1990 and possibly to be learned by others in 1994.

So when the local Sun starts to sound just like the local developers, which it has lately, its credibility goes right out the window. . . .

John W. Taylor

Highland

The writer is president of Howard Countians for Responsible Growth.

After weeks of being involved in Planning Board hearings and then Zoning Board hearings, I pick up the paper . . . only to be hit with a column supporting the new mixed-use concept by a Sun editorial writer. Kevin Thomas' article points out just how twisted the facts and issues are becoming as regards mixed-use centers, and the growth proposed for Howard County by the 1990 General Plan.

First, Mr. Thomas' representing the current 1990 Plan and the concept of mixed-use development as County Executive Charles Ecker's plan is misleading. This document is the Liz Bobo plan. . . .

I must agree with Mr. Thomas that I see Mr. Ecker as having a lack of leadership in the matter of the 1990 plan, not because he has failed to further encourage the rapid endorsement of this plan, but because he has failed to take the lead in having it re-thought. . . .

Throughout Mr. Thomas' article the terminology "no-growth" advocates is repeatedly used. I have just recently gotten involved in this issue, but have been to numerous neighborhood meetings involving hundreds and hundreds of people. I have yet to talk to anyone advocating no-growth.

. . . No one is trying to hold back the county. We are just questioning the underlying arguments. . ., especially after the extreme growth of the past 10 years. The attempt to paint these concerned citizens as a bunch of anti-growth zealots is an inaccurate representation. . . .

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