Unsafe home, bitter feelings toward countyThe new Howard...

LETTERS

December 27, 1998

Unsafe home, bitter feelings toward county

The new Howard County administration must improve its nearly nonexistent regulation of development.

Howard County issued all approvals for my new house even though my house was built on an old dump site. This condition was not disclosed to me nor to my neighbors. The former county administration has not taken any action to address my problem or to prevent this from happening to other unsuspecting homebuyers.

Now I live with the constant threat of methane gas intrusion and the uncertainty of other possible contamination. I fear for the safety of my young children and cannot feel secure in and around my house.

I am angry -- angry that the builder and developer created this horrible situation, angry that the county failed in its responsibilities and perhaps considered its relationship with the developers and builders to be more important than protecting the citizenry.

My family's financial investment is gone and we are stuck in an unsafe home.

The Ecker administration responded to my problem by refusing to investigate. In the absence of any meaningful information, then-County Executive Charles I. Ecker made statements approving of the builder's actions.

This cannot be tolerated by the citizens of Howard County. Government must begin to protect the health and safety of its citizens and that will take some action to ensure that homes meet basic standards.

I urge the Robey administration to be dramatically different and to take actions that will protect the numerous new homebuyers in Howard County. We should not have to resort to the judicial system to vindicate our basic human right to feel safe and secure in our homes.

Dave Eakin

Elkridge

Development race is loser for county

Outgoing Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker's defense of developers (Dec. 2) missed the point. Out-of-control residential land development is reducing the quality of life for current citizens and taxing them for it as well.

Developers use existing facilities such as schools, roads and parks to market houses but pay nothing to support construction of facilities to accommodate the growth they create. The added facilities to accommodate growth are paid for by current county taxpayers and represent a direct subsidy to the developer.

Residents continue to subsidize growth over time since most residential development does not cover the cost of the services it requires. Current residents make up the difference through new taxes. The result: school crowding, redistricting, increased traffic, reduced quality of life and new taxes on citizens. Only the developer gains.

We need to make a new beginning. The county should take an investment approach to growth that recognizes its costs and benefits and assigns those costs to those who benefit from it. We need an economic impact statement for each new project that identifies the cost of capital construction and the cost of services on current residents.

Since developers benefit from growth they should pay all capital costs up front. For the county's part, it should identify tax dollars needed to provide services to each new project and how they will be found.

The goal should be no adverse impact on current residents.

John Murphy

Clarksville

A math lesson on SAT scores

I find the conclusions in your Dec. 3 article regarding the 1997-1998 SAT scores at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, "Changes lead school to success," to be irrelevant to the statistics presented.

One must examine the statistics objectively, and look more closely at cause and effect.

In my opinion, the dramatic increase in scores was most likely a result of the redistricting of Wilde Lake in 1994.

The students who graduated in 1998, whom I believe represent the majority of those taking the SAT in 1997-1998, were the first graduates of the "new Wilde Lake."

The student body has grown by more than 50 percent and has a much more diverse population than it did prior to the '94 changes.

The credentials of the Class of '98 went beyond the SAT scores. The top 5 percent of the class had a 3.9 (unweighted) grade-point average or better, and the list of nationally ranked prestigious colleges that accepted these graduates is impressive.

These students spent three years under the prior administration and four years under the unique Wilde Lake-supervised study curriculum.

I no longer have a student at Wilde Lake, and therefore have no basis to take issue with the current administration or its policies.

However, the changes in administration, policies and discipline that took place at Wilde Lake High in the past 15 months had no impact on the SAT scores of 1997-1998.

The Wilde Lake administration that you credit with spawning this remarkable increase in test scores began its tenure in fall 1997.

They were likely still learning their way around the facility when many of the students represented in those statistics took the SAT.

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