`Smart growth' is key to bringing growth under sensible...

Letters to the Editor

January 20, 1999

`Smart growth' is key to bringing growth under sensible limits

In his Opinion Commentary article, Bill Thompson criticized "smart growth" ("Nothing `reasonable' about `smart growth' " Jan. 15).

Without "smart growth," developers build too much housing. According to Baltimore County's Consolidated Plan, the Baltimore region's population increased by 177,000 households from 1970 to 1990, but 336,000 new housing units were built during that time.

All these new homes make it harder for homeowners to sell their homes and reduce house prices. For instance, the average price of existing Baltimore County houses dropped 3.75 percent from December 1997 to December 1998.

Our homes are one of our biggest financial assets. We depend on the price of our homes to increase so we can pay for things such as college for our kids.

New homes built on previously undeveloped land destroy wildlife habitat and require expensive infrastructure such as new roads and schools. If you own a home in any county around Baltimore, aren't you being taxed to pay for expenses associated with new homes? Don't these new homes reduce the value of your home? Is that how you want your hard-earned tax dollars spent?

The main problem with "smart growth" is that it is not strong enough to keep developers from building disposable neighborhoods, where housing prices decrease because of the glut of houses on the market.

Bruce Smith, Loch Raven

Lack of two-party system brings us higher taxes

The fact that we are talking about raising taxes in a time of such great prosperity is unconscionable. And it is a prime example of the bad public policy that Marylanders are forced to endure because of our state's lack of a true two-party system.

Our huge surplus and the money from the tobacco settlement will be spent irresponsibly, and every Maryland taxpayer will be forced to make up for it. Sadly, the Democratic leaders of our state will make sure that this happens, and nobody will be able to stop them.

Even sadder is the fact that in election after election, we do nothing to put an end to this harmfully partisan form of government.

Joseph L. Beavers, Davidsonville

Surplus is not enough to satisfy Democrats

In an obvious misreading of the election results, Gov. Parris N. Glendening and the Democrat leadership in the General Assembly are poised to push Maryland back into the economic mess we have just started to overcome.

I don't remember the voters of Maryland saying they wanted higher taxes, a higher cost of living and, ultimately, a weaker economy. The state is running a record surplus, but it is not enough money to satisfy the spendthrift appetites of the Democrats who run this state.

What I find highly ironic is that the same people our governor exhorted to go to the polls with the race-baiting campaign are the people he is about to stick it to. Everyone knows that sales and consumption taxes are the most regressive taxes. Apparently, this is of little concern to the governor and his Democratic allies in Annapolis.

Now is a great time for Maryland Republicans to celebrate. The Maryland Democratic Party is headed over the same cliff that the national Democratic Party went over in 1993 by passing the largest tax increase in history.

Maryland Republicans need to represent the interests of Marylanders, including those the Democrats are betraying, by steadfastly opposing the great money grab of 1999.

Robb MacKie, Columbia

Our Middle East presence has not promoted peace

Thank you for the article "Toppling Hussein poses no easy task" (Jan. 13) by Mark Matthews and Tom Bowman. I appreciate your continued coverage of the world situation, especially that troublesome Middle East.

With all the human misery, one may wonder what we are doing there. Particularly around Arab lands, our presence seems to promote anything but peace. Whatever we do concerning Iraq, we seem to be risking more casualties. In situations approaching war, we tolerate so much suffering, so many casualties.

For those safe from the slaughter, it has been said that truth is an early casualty of war.

The late Viktor Frankl, with wisdom honed by first-hand experience, reminds us: "So live as if you were living already for the second time, and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now."

Frank Kasper, Baltimore

No mystery or loyalty in support for Clinton

It never ceases to amaze me how political pundits such as William Safire totally ignore the obvious ("The loyalty mystery," Jan. 13).

Mr. Safire cannot understand why President Clinton continues to hold the support he does and calls this phenomenon "loyalty."

Mr. Clinton does not have enough loyal supporters in this country to get elected sheriff in Arkansas. What he does have is a public that is scared to death that the religious right in this country, which now has a financial death grip on the Republican Party, will one day gain the White House.

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