Public Voice was Lost in Tower, Sign DebatesI am writing...


March 13, 1994

Public Voice was Lost in Tower, Sign Debates

I am writing to voice my concerns regarding the Carroll County Board of Zoning Appeals and its responsiveness to the voice of the residents which this board was selected to represent.

I have been involved, over the past three months, with an appeal regarding a zoning change for the purposes of constructing a 200-foot-high tower to support a cellular base station on Hollenberry Road near the town of Sykesville.

Concerned residents of the immediate area got together to discuss how we should best present our objections to this intrusion into our neighborhood. We hired an attorney to represent us at the hearing. We collected names of individuals, not only in the immediate area, but also in other areas of Carroll County, who supported our opposition to the construction of this tower.

Nearly 700 Carroll County residents expressed their opposition by signing our petition. A week prior to the initial hearing date, members of our neighborhood group attended a county planning meeting to present our objections not only to the construction of the Hollenberry Road tower, but also to the construction of 24 towers to be placed throughout Carroll County. The result of this meeting was that the county commissioners agreed to place a hold on future tower construction applications.

On Jan. 27, many of the members of our neighborhood group attended the first meeting of the Board of Zoning Appeals regarding an application for the construction of the above mentioned tower. We listened while the applicants' "expert witness" presented evidence that a television antenna on a house or a 35-foot telephone pole would be no more obtrusive than a 200-foot tower. We testified to the board as to our concerns regarding potential environmental damage, loss of property value and the controversial health hazards. The hearing was reconvened on Feb. 4 to give our opposition group additional time to present our case.

In the end, our appeal was met by deaf ears. The Zoning Appeals Board could find no reason why the construction of an "industrial plant" on property already identified for conservation, in a residential area, would have any effect on property values, or would cause us any undue concern regarding potential health risks. The board disregarded the voices of nearly 700 residents supporting our appeal due to the chairman's opinion that four of the signatures appeared suspiciously similar. The chairman did state that he was no handwriting expert.

In a recent article of the Carroll County Times, a group of citizens in the vicinity of the Carrolltowne Center expressed concern to this same board that the size and number of signs around the center were not within regulation and were becoming an "eyesore." The board found that though the number of signs was within the regulations, the size was not. The board recommended that the regulation be changed to accommodate the larger signs.

The essential aspect here is whose interests this body is supposed to represent. Although not directly elected by county residents, its members are the representatives of elected officials. . . . With elections coming this year, now is the time to ensure that our future representatives will listen to the voices of their constituents.

David R. Werner


Gun Control

I am continually amazed at the ability of the anti-gun lobby to come up with hollow arguments to support their move to take guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. One of their claims is that people don't need guns for self-protection because they can rely on the police.

About 83 percent of the population will be victims of violent crimes during their lives and in any given year, serious crime touches 25 percent of American households. Can police protection possibly be there for this number of violations? Are criminals in general stupid enough to make their move when the police are there?

In 1982, a District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruling stated, "The police responsibility is only to the public at large, and not to individual members of the community." What does this mean? It means that you, as an American citizen, are the ultimate guarantor of your own life and safety and that of your family -- not the police, not the courts, not any government agency.

So if you are an anti-gun advocate, fine. Don't own a gun. But don't take away my Second Amendment right to gun ownership, which I feel is crucial to my personal and family safety.

David M. Fitzgerald


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