Arundel Mills shows myth of land-use controlPlans for the...


August 22, 1999

Arundel Mills shows myth of land-use control

Plans for the super-regional Arundel Mills "shoppertainment" complex in Anne Arundel County demonstrates the need for a mechanism to evaluate projects that will impact the regional economy, air quality and transportation systems.

Large-scale projects such as Arundel Mills illustrate the shortcomings -- and the myth -- of local land-use control.

Arundel Mills will generate approximately 75 million additional vehicle miles annually in the region and attract shoppers from up to 200 miles away. Yet regional scrutiny is limited to the air quality modeling process, which does not address congestion, transportation choice, jobs-housing imbalance or disinvestment.

The regional effects of the project on transportation and air quality are obvious: We cannot drive approximately 75 million more miles annually in the region -- there is no planned public transportation -- without increasing traffic congestion and further degrading our already famously poor air quality.

The effects of the project on the economy and existing communities are equally devastating. Established retail and commercial centers within Arundel Mills' 200-mile radius of influence will lose business. Jurisdictions will have to brace themselves for a cycle of disinvestment and revitalization.

Many of the 3,500 jobs associated with the mall also merely represent a shift in employment from one retail center to another. Moreover, Anne Arundel and Howard counties already have a documented dearth of employees to fill existing retail and service sector jobs. The employees, therefore, will have to come from elsewhere.

Potential employees always weigh transportation costs when calculating the benefits of a new job and entry-level, low-wage jobs located far from one's home may not prove economically feasible.

Smart growth means stabilizing our existing communities, mixing uses, reducing automobile dependency and curbing the use of green spaces. This project does the complete opposite on a very large scale.

We cannot hope to maintain or reinstate vibrant commercial cores in established communities if we destabilize their customer base with the extravagant construction of retail space built on "greenfields." We also cannot expect to alleviate gridlock or improve air quality with the addition of such a large, auto-dependent project.

Kristen Forsyth, Baltimore

The writer is with 1000 Friends of Maryland.

Paddling canoe from two ends

On Aug. 15 I noticed a big pitch by The Sun, to make Maryland a mecca for high tech industries. On the same page were three other letters which carried a common theme: Maryland has too much sprawl. Maryland has approximately 10,500 square miles, one third of which is under water.

At present, it has more than 5 million inhabitants competing for living room on its 7,000 square miles of land. Therefore, to avoid contending with other types of development for this state's unspoiled areas, the high-tech folks will be happy to accept available "brownfields" locations. Right? Dont bet the farm on it!

Maryland is like a canoe with a paddler at each end, placed back to back.

One represents commercial affairs, the other environmental concerns.

While they are paddling in opposite directions at the same time, the rest of us, huddled in the middle, are worried about which way the state is going to go.

Walter C. Becker, Pasadena

Men can help `reading's lost boys'

Being a teacher for 18 years in Anne Arundel County's school system and the mother of two sons, I found the article, "Reading's lost boys," on Aug. 15 thought-provoking.

In my fifth-grade class, I wish I saw more boys motivated to read for the fun of it. I have always felt there is a connection between boys being taught to read by their own gender and their motivation to choose to read.

I agree with Kathleen Odean that "we have a school system that is culturally female dominated." This needs to change in order for our school system to get better.

Men should be encouraged, influenced, begged or whatever it takes to get them to choose to teach in the early developmental years of children.

Our schools should have just as many males in the elementary schools as females.

Fathers need to spend time reading to their children. Good role models are needed by both genders in education to get the job done right.

I'm proud to have a son who teaches whole-day kindergarten in North Carolina, where he is making his students love to read and write.

Diane Zoller, Pasadena

The writer is a teacher at Bodkin Elementary School.

Shriver's criticism on Graf unwelcome

While the closing of a career in tennis such as Steffi Graf's was indeed front-page news, I read with dismay Pam Shriver's comments.

It seems she was compelled to speak negatively on Ms. Graf, in reference to her single-minded focus, as well as her non-involvement in women's tennis issues and things political. Her comments had no place in the article, and were out of sync with the tone of it.

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