For an area of such vast, peaceful space, rural western Howard County is fraught with tension. Its rich history as a farming community is unfolding to an uncertain future, and the pull between those who welcome change and those clinging to a romantic notion of the past is exceedingly strong.
Ironically, many of those who have toiled the land for generations are also the ones quickest to embrace the future. As for newcomers, those who reside in mini-mansions on three-acre lots, their aspirations spring from nostalgia for a lifestyle they have only recently been able to realize. These are strong feelings that pit farmers' property rights against homeowners' desire to maintain the surroundings that attracted them in the first place.
Democrat John W. Taylor, who is running for a seat on the County Council from western Howard's Fifth District, has played on this emotional tug-of-war. His vision sees a continuation of the large-lot, sprawling, affluent communities like the one he has called home the past seven years.
Significantly, it is also a vision that has been rejected by state and federal regulators, who feel that such residential sprawl denudes the land, pollutes the air and chokes the surrounding waterways. Accordingly, county planners and the County Council have proposed mixed-use developments as an alternative. By clustering homes at higher densities, large parcels of land can be set aside for conservation. This is a sound and vital approach, as evidenced by the success of nearby Columbia.
This is what John Taylor is fighting. He uses an arsenal of scare tactics to frighten residents. But in nearly every instance, Mr. Taylor overstates or misrepresents the facts.
The alternative is incumbent Republican Charles C. Feaga, running for a third term. Mr. Feaga defeated Mr. Taylor once before, in the 1990 Republican primary before Mr. Taylor switched parties.
As a farmer, Mr. Feaga understands and shares with residents a desire to preserve western Howard's character. But he also believes that mixed use developments offer the best hope for saving the land and accommodating the growth that is #i guaranteed to come to a place between two vibrant metropolises. We wholeheardedly endorse him.
0$ Monday: County state's attorney.