Public's interest is foremost concern in fight over...

Letters to the Editor

May 03, 1998

Public's interest is foremost concern in fight over property

Regarding Clarence Elder's land on Greenspring Valley and Falls roads ("Landowner won't give in without a fight," April 24), residents do not need a park at this site. It is the public that needs a park -- and needs it a lot more than it needs offices or housing.

Residents would prefer that Mr. Elder build a house on the property and keep the rest open space or agriculture as the zoning requires and will continue to require. Perhaps a park is a good compromise in that it permits public use and keeps open space.

Recently, application for a new 160,000-square-foot office has been made for Greenspring Station. The zoning apparently exists for this, but the traffic capacity does not. Roads and intersections in the area will gridlock. This situation makes a future zoning change on Mr. Elder's land across the road even more unlikely than it has been in the past 40 years.

How could a zoning change be justified when the infrastructure does not and cannot exist? Roads are restricted in width by easements and intersection improvements are restricted by the historic district and the prohibitive cost of overpasses. The sewer is at capacity.

If Mr. Elder wanted intensive use of his property, he should have bought land that had the zoning to support that use. Instead, he gambled on changing zoning in an agricultural area.

That is the gamble that was lost in the past 40 years by the Rouse Co., Mercantile Bank, a retirement community and James Ward.

Douglas Carroll


Clarence Elder's charge that Baltimore County's effort to use his land at Greenspring Valley and Falls Roads for public recreation facilities is racially motivated is simply wrong.

I have spent most of my life near that land, and I have lived within a mile or so since 1986. For almost 10 years, I have been very active in the effort to preserve the Valleys area of Baltimore County. The present and future use of Mr. Elder's land has always been among the most hotly contested issues, and I have engaged in many hours of conversations and community meetings in its regard.

Yet I had never heard Mr. Elder's name, I had never heard the slightest hint that the owner's race was pertinent to the subject, and, indeed, I had not the slightest idea of the owner's race until you printed it.

I reserve judgment as to whether the county's concept of the land as a public recreation site is good or bad for the Valleys. But there is no doubt that it is an infinitely better use than any previously proposed for the property.

Harold H. Burns Jr.


Townsend on right track with prevention program

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend announced her heroin-prevention program ("Townsend unveils program to curb heroin use in Md.," April 9) with great fanfare, and with good reason. Her proposals for more aggressive enforcement, treatment and prevention are thorough and hard-hitting.

Oddly, though, she did not mention Gov. Parris N. Glendening's main policy initiative, his support for giving free needles to heroin addicts. She may have heard that the Clinton administration won't fund such programs because of the fear that they encourage and increase heroin addiction. In fact, the National Institutes of Health put its pilot project in Alaska, where any harm done might be minimized.

Mr. Glendening could learn something about heroin policy from Ms. Townsend. We should send a message to our youth about the dangers of drugs such as heroin, not subsidize its use with free paraphernalia.

John S. Morgan


The writer, a Republican, represents Howard and Prince George's counties in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Health professionals' duty is to guard patient privacy

I applaud the efforts by Lawrence O. Gostin, the Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address patient confidentiality in the health-care system.

It is not only possible that medical records could be an open book to others without consent, it is already happening ("Plugging leaks in patient privacy," April 24).

Who would want to be denied employment for a condition or disability that the potential employer discovered outside of the interview? If you were presently being or in the past had been treated for depression, would you expect others to see intimate details of your struggle on a computer screen?

As a nurse, I have always maintained that to promote patient-provider trust and confidentiality, practitioners must discuss patient status exclusively with other professionals directly involved in or contributing to the care of the individual.

It is not uncommon for a dozen people in the health-care and insurance industry to have access to an individual's personal record during a hospitalization.

Health-care providers hold the key to the initial preservation of privacy for their patients.

Adele M. Gill


Befitting title for keeper of Baltimore County's past

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