The middle ground in growth debatePrinciples before...


August 18, 1996

The middle ground in growth debate

Principles before personalities. That's the growing sentiment

among Carroll County citizens regarding the issue of growth and its effects on our way of life. Many of my constituents have made it clear that they want me to put principles before personalities when it comes to their home and community -- and forget partisan bickering and mudslinging.

The issue of growth is very clear to me: Can we manage growth without denying family farms their property rights? My answer is swift and sure: Yes. The Constitution guarantees due process anytime the state wishes to limit private property. The Constitution also establishes the separation of powers to ensure that our rights are not ignored by one branch without the remedial action of another branch.

At the present time, the executive branch of county government has attempted to satisfy "managed growth" advocates by appointments to certain boards, which is its prerogative.

The legislative branch of state government has attempted to protect property rights by revising the state code, which is its prerogative.

Somewhere in the middle, the people of Carroll County have tried to let their voices be heard. I believe both camps on the issue want to allow family farms to sell six acres out of 120 for development.

The farmers acquiesced to the county on this issue decades ago when they didn't have to, back when farmers had the largest voting block. To their credit, they voluntarily limited themselves to one acre of sell-off per 20. The county assured family farmers that if they gave an "inch," the county wouldn't take a "mile." A gentleman's agreement was made.

It seems to me that many "managed-growth" citizens are willing to embrace the family farmers' position on that point. What they aren't willing to allow is non-farmers developing their land without adequate facility scrutiny. Therein lies the great debate.

Since the governor exercised his prerogative and vetoed the legislation that included the non-farm variance, it's a given that such legislation cannot be successful in the upcoming session. But a delegation bill that allows family farms an exclusive right to develop a maximum of six acres per 120, and not anyone else, without adequate facility scrutiny can be agreed upon by both camps.

As for me, I shall not turn my back on the constitutional property rights of the family farmer. But I also cannot ignore the constitutional separation of powers by turning a deaf ear or a blind eye to the authority of the executive branch of county or state governments. That's why I'm a Republican. I believe in representation, not brute force.

To do otherwise invites anarchy wherein witch hunts prevail, all in the name of party unity or personal favoritism. In the final analysis, I'm a constitutionalist first, a Republican second. Let's protect the family farmer and manage growth, too. But, let's do it the constitutional way. Not according to the dictates of any party or personality. It's principle that matters here. Now more than ever.

Timothy R. Ferguson


The writer is a state senator representing Legislative District 4 in Carroll and Frederick counties.

Media coddle extremists

A recent news report revealed that on July 26 a Disabled American Veterans service center in New Orleans had to close early after receiving threats of violence because President Clinton was scheduled to address the organization's national convention.

One person threatened to blow up the building and another threatened to just come in and start shooting people. The report states that the calls began coming into the center after a local conservative talk show host urged listeners to protest Mr. Clinton's planned appearance at the DAV national convention there on Sunday.

This is another example of the disturbing affect that conservative views have on the minds of those who are easily inflamed or simply have a personal disgust for the president. This disturbs me greatly because Mr. Clinton is my president, and the legitimate winner of the last presidential election. It would appear that the conservatives suffer from a bad case of sour grapes and the normal result should be to simply wait until the next election and vote against him.

It is amazing how much venom has been directed at this leader and his family simply because his views do not coincide completely with some others. Some people show barbaric disgust to the president simply because he didn't serve in the military and supposedly opposed the war in Vietnam.

These extremists consider him unpatriotic, although 20 years later many leaders who supported the war now admit it was a mistake. It could be argued that those protesters were instrumental in bringing the administration to realize this too, thus ending the war sooner and saving American lives. Certainly, it could be understood by some that the protesters indeed were also patriotic.

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