I did ask church leaders at the time they were requesting water and sewer for the property what would keep them from doing further development other than the church and the school once they had water and sewer. They assured me that they would not do any further development. That answer was good enough for me, and I did not oppose the extension of water and sewer for the church and school.
They currently have a special exception to build the church and school that is in effect until August 2000. Since, at least from my perspective, the opposition is to the 90 townhouses and not to the church and school, the matter is in their hands.
Their inability to compromise is what is threatening the church and school, not the actions of the community and county officials.
James Clark Jr.
As taxpayers, residents, parents and business owners in Howard County, we are appalled at the Covenant Baptist Church's position on legislation introduced to revoke public water and sewage on its property.
At a County Council hearing, the church assured no further development on the property. A funny thing happened: Plans were introduced for 114 senior townhouses backing up to the Clark Farm on Centennial Lane.
Covenant Baptist Church has changed plans over and over. This is a true invasion of a peaceful, tranquil agricultural piece of property.
Parents concerned about redistricting should have a say The adequate public facilities ordinance of Howard County is under review by a committee appointed by the county executive. The committee will decide if the law, which was created 10 years ago to make sure that roads, infrastructure and schools keep up with growth is, in fact, working.
The committee has announced that it will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the George Howard county government building in Ellicott City to receive public input. The problem is that most people don't know what's being decided and how it will effect them in the next five to 10 years.
Currently, the APFO allows a school to reach 120 percent overcapacity before development within that school district would be delayed.
The decision to close a school area is made by the Board of Education and approved by the County Council on a yearly basis through adoption of an "open closed chart." As the ordinance is written, development approval can only be delayed four years even if the school district remains overcrowded.
Our communities will soon feel the results of this law, especially those on the outskirts of east Columbia, such as Ellicott City and Elkridge, and of west Columbia, such as Clarksville and Pointers Run.
In many schools in east and west Columbia, enrollment is declining, which will necessitate large-scale redistricting from growing outer regions in order to operate these schools at capacity. The decision to redistrict was made by the Board of Education, based on the fiscal impact of building new schools vs. utilizing existing space.
Most citizens in my own community, River Hill, are unaware of the hundreds of seats that will soon be available in elementary and middle schools outside of our own community. The inevitable course will be large-scale redistricting outside of our "neighborhood schools" if development continues unabated.
There are no easy answers. Possible changes to the APFO include decreasing the school benchmark from 120 percent to 105 percent overcapacity.
This would ease crowding and may enable children to remain at their neighborhood schools through elementary grades.
Another possibility is to measure the feasibility of including middle school capacity under the law. Currently there is no provision for a test at the middle or high school levels. Our elementary school children will face this problem in the next 5 to 10 years.
Last, the committee should explore closing development in a school area automatically when projections reach 120 percent capacity and not have to wait for revision of the chart (which can cause hundreds more homes to be approved in the meantime).
No matter what changes are made to the APFO, citizens have a right to know when they move into a community if they are at high risk for redistricting in the near future.
If the law remains unchanged, there will be hundreds of unhappy citizens who trusted public officials to plan appropriately for their communities.
Most people move to Howard County and choose a home for its proximity to a school.
Now is the time for citizens with school-age children to speak. This is their chance to have an impact on where their children will attend school and under what conditions.
There will be testimony at the APFO committee meeting tomorrow in support of strengthening the law to protect citizens with school-aged children.
I urge those who care about their neighborhood schools to come out and show support.