Bel Air not striving to keep diabled out of communityI am...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 22, 1999

Bel Air not striving to keep diabled out of community

I am concerned about The Sun's coverage of the group home legislation that the town of Bel Air is considering ("Group-home free zone," June 17). This legislation is not intended to exclude group homes from the town, but to make current zoning regulations more uniform.

Bel Air seeks to maintain low-density in districts zoned that way and locate higher-density units in areas zoned for them. Group homes would not be prohibited. They would be treated like a bed and breakfast or an apartment building.

Current law prohibits group homes and other non-single family dwellings in low-density zoning areas. However, if the members of the group home constitute a family, as defined by the Maryland legislature, they are not prohibited. The new ordinance does not change this.

Any group of persons living together within the definition of family may live anywhere. A group of seven developmentally disabled persons constitutes a family; it would not be a group home under the definition in Bel Air's proposed ordinance.

Bel Air is concerned about group homes established for profit that crowd mentally or physically disabled persons into quarters that are inadequate.

The fire department has raised concern about the safety of people living in such homes. Homeowners have raised concerns about the transient nature of the homes and the negative impact that they have on property values.

However, the people of Bel Air recognize the need for group homes that enable handicapped or mentally disabled people to live independently in the community.

We want then to exist in areas zoned to accommodate them, where residents will have access to the services they need.

Maureen L. Rowland, Bel Air

The writer a Bel Air town commissioner.

Addicts don't belong in residential areas

Congratulations to Bel Air's commissioners for taking a stand on group homes for recovering addicts and alcoholics ("Group homes spur debate," June 14).

I sympathize with those striken with drug or alcohol addiction. However, running a rehabilitation business in a residentially zoned neighborhood isn't the right response to the problem and isn't fair to the area's residents.

The high relapse rate among recovering (not recovered) addicts makes them inappropriate for residential neighborhoods with young children.

Perhaps, rather than hiding behind "anti-discrimination" laws, local and state governments can work together to find solutions to this complex disease process.

Thomas P. Evans, Bel Air

Doing gun lobby's bidding will hurt politicians

Shame on Reps. Robert Ehrlich and Roscoe Bartlett for taking the side of the gun lobby last week in the U.S. House of Representatives ("House passes weaker rules on gun shows," June 18).

Unlike Maryland's six other Representatives, they voted against a measure to require real background checks for those who purchase handguns at gun shows and for a measure written by the National Rifle Association, which would have weakened gun laws on the books.

Shame also on Texas Gov. George W. Bush for signing a bill last week that will make it very difficult if not impossible for Texas cities to sue gun manufacturers.

Like Mr. Ehrlich and Mr. Bartlett, Mr. Bush did the bidding of the gun lobby, which is scared to death of these lawsuits.

Next year, Mr. Bush will be asking for the support of Maryland voters for president. Soon after that, Mr. Ehrlich will probably be asking Marylanders to support him for statewide office.

Maryland voters will remember what they did to make the gun lobby smile and victims of gun violence cringe.

As Ellen Sauerbrey can attest, pro-gun candidates do not do well in this state.

Vincent DeMarco, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Citzens' Health Initiative.

Rep. Henry Hyde is a hypocrite

House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Henry J. Hyde argued passionately in recent weeks for a bill that would deny youths access to sexually explicit materials ("GOP splits over youth access to `cultural violence,' " June 17).

Apparently, Mr. Hyde's hypocrisy knows no bounds.

He released the salacious sexual particulars of the Clinton/Lewinsky affair to the media and over the Internet for the entire world to snicker and smirk over, making millions of youths party to special counsel Kenneth Starr's voyeurism.

Ordinary Americans had no trouble understanding that private sexual activity is just that, private. But Represtative Hyde, who ranted sanctimoniously about constitutional duty and the rule of law, flouted the rule of law and trashed the constitutional right to privacy.

He apparently did this without a thought to the humiliation inflicted not only on the two principals in that consensual dalliance, but their families.

Cruel and unusual punishment, indeed, for an extra-marital liaison: The same infidelity of which the self-righteous Mr. Hyde himself had also been guilty.

Rea Knisbacher, Baltimore

Iran must stop persecuting Jews

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