Smart Growth plan stresses improvement not uniformityIt is...


June 16, 1999

Smart Growth plan stresses improvement not uniformity

It is gratifying to see The Sun broadly endorse most of what we are doing with our Smart Growth and Neigborhood Conservation program ("What Smart Growth is . . . and is not," June 9).

As the paper correctly portrays it, "Smart Growth is the government weighing the long-term impact of investing in roads, schools and infrastructure." It's also about nourishing older neighborhoods, preserving farmland, making communities safer and improving education.

But I would quibble with two points in the editorial, starting with the sub-headline that read: "Land-use philosophy elicits great debate, and scant agreement."

While the first half of that statement is true, the second is wrong. In Maryland and all over the country, citizens, elected officials, environmentalists, developers and others are forging new coalitions in support of Smart Growth.

Sure, they don't agree on everything, but there is more agreement on the need for Smart Growth and on many of the specifics than the headline implies.

Second, the editorial incorrectly said that Gov. Parris N. Glendening has proposed a "one-size-fits-all" building code.

In his May 26 speech to the Smart Codes conference in Baltimore, the governor said: "We need to develop guidelines that permit more flexibility in design standards and encourage more attractive, liveable communities. We have to remember that one size does not fit all."

The Sun's Joel McCord correctly reported that the governor did not plan to "impose" a building code on anyone, although he may offer incentives to encourage local governments to adopt or adapt a model statewide Smart Growth code ("Glendening asked builders for Smart Growth code," May 27).

That would be consistent with our overall Smart Growth approach.

John W. Frece, Annapolis

The writer is the governor's special assistant for Smart Growth.

Smart Growth is fine, but strains, needs remain

The Sun's editorial "What Smart Growth is . . . and is not" (June 9) needs a bit of rebuttal.

The National Association of Home Builders does not consider sensitive development "meaningless." As participants in the effort to revitalize America's cities and fringe suburbs, home builders admit that past growth patterns may not be best for the future.

But important issues affecting the shelter industry are not easily solved, particularly here in Maryland.

More than 1 million residents are expected to move to the state in the next 20 years. At least 25,000 homes will need to be built each year to meet this demand.

Crime, poor schools, high taxes and poor services continue to drive people out of cities. And the NIMBY ("Not In My Back Yard") mentality is making logical urban and suburban development difficult.

Credible studies have shown that more than 80 percent of Americans would prefer a single family house with a yard in the suburbs to a townhouse in the city.

As the editorial suggested, we must come together to craft solutions.

But, to affect the direction of growth, consumer demand for housing has to be created where we have agreed growth should occur.

People will continue to live where they want, and builders will be there to deliver what they want, as regulated by each local jurisdiction.

Martin Azola, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Home Builders Association of Maryland.

Keep up the fight to preserve green space

It seems that developers will not be satisfied until every tree is felled and every inch of grass is paved. ("As bulldozers loom, neighborhood unites," June 12.)

We are watching the Earth's "lungs" be destroyed little by little.

To the communities of Poplar Hill and Lake Falls South I say, keep up the fight against Struever Bros., Eccles and Rouse Inc.

Anne Heaton, Baltimore

Shelter's expansion is good; location should be a secret

I was glad to read that the House of Ruth is expanding ("Shelter for battered women to dedicate expanded services," June 7). The need for its services is greater than the need for new stadiums, subways and hotels.

I was puzzled and concerned, however, by the fact that The Sun included the shelter's address in the article. I thought the location was kept secret to avoid visits from angry husbands and boyfriends.

Rick Dorr, Baltimore

United Way's funds should stay within its ambit

I find it extremely distressing that United Way funds are going to outside organizations ("United Way tells many to expect less," June 3). The United Way was established to bring under one umbrella many agencies that serve the poor and the community's general health.

It is not intended as a fund-raiser for private schools and other organizations that have their own fund-raisers and campaigns. As a graduate of one of Baltimore's private schools, I am glad to contribute to that institution, but that shouldn't go through the United Way.

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