Fairway Hills: The Fight Goes On HOWARD COUNTY

June 23, 1993

An issue that has been hotly debated, picked at and fussed over for a decade deserves to be resolved. That's true of the federal deficit, and it's true of the proposed new golf course for Columbia.

Unfortunately, it appears the bickering will continue until the bitter end -- and perhaps beyond that. Opponents of the planned $5.2 million, 18-hole Fairway Hills course have taken their case to the state Water Resources Administration.

At issue is the extent to which building the course will affect trees and the Little Patuxent River. The Columbia Association, which would build the course, must have state approval before it can proceed.

While the state administration's role in the approval process is important and necessary, we put our faith in the association in this matter.

During the painfully long deliberations, the Columbia Association has given more than ample consideration to the environmental impact of this project, which would cover 204 acres west of Route 29 and south of Route 108.

Moreover, the association has a good track record when it involves ameliorating damage to the 0environment where large projects are concerned. As a planned community, Columbia has demonstrated the highest respect for the preservation of nature.

That is not to say that there will be no impact on the surroundings. The plan calls for permanently filling 350 square feet of low vegetation wetlands and clearing trees on about three acres. All in all, that seems a minimal intrusion. The point of environmental protection is to lessen a development's impact, not obliterate it.

We believe the state will agree: The new Columbia golf course is a viable project that will not cause undue harm to the environment. It also makes business sense; it would relieve crowding at Columbia's other public course, Hobbit's Glen, and it appears to be what Columbians want. Opponents of the course should be mindful that of the three new Columbia Council members, two are advocates for a new course.

That gives proponents a clearer majority on the council than when the project was approved earlier this year. Columbia elections might not be perfect, but they're still the only barometer in town.

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