County code protects historic structures, allows...


November 07, 1999

County code protects historic structures, allows redevelopment

The Baltimore County Historical Trust Inc. (BCHT) is writing to correct misunderstandings regarding the demolition of the Thomas Fortune House ("Preservation shouldn't be burden to property owners," letters, Nov. 1).

The Thomas Fortune House was placed on the Maryland Historical Trust's inventory 20 years ago. Mr. Fortune, a quarryman, is credited with procuring the marble for the Washington Monument in our nation's capital.

His house was the most prominent home in the Texas area of the county, once a thriving mining community.

The Baltimore County Code requires that structures on the Maryland Historical Trust inventory be preserved. Any request for demolition or alteration of such a property must have a hearing before the zoning commissioner.

Such a hearing on the Fortune House took place in late July. The zoning commissioner's decision was then appealed to the county's Board of Appeals.

Before it could hear the case, which was slated for Dec. 2, the house was destroyed in the middle of the night.

Such an act is illegal and dangerous. The county requires demolition permits for good reason: to protect the health and welfare of its citizens and environment.

BCHT urges the county government to fully investigate this illegal demolition and prosecute the offending parties. In the meantime, no permits should be issued for new construction at that site.

BCHT also promotes the state's initiatives to assist property owners and contract purchasers who want to recycle older and historic structures.

The Thomas Fortune House might not have been suited for its original purposes. But taking advantage of those programs, an owner could have given it new life.

Ruth B. Mascari, Towson

The writer is chairman of the Baltimore County Historic Trust Inc.

Balto. County at fault for razed historic home

I have followed with interest the boondoggle over the Kraft home in Timonium. But reading The Sun's editorial "Bulldozers after dark" (Oct. 27), I was puzzled about who may go "unpunished."

Possibly the individual who took it upon himself to list the home with the Baltimore County Historical Trust?

If Baltimore County had been fair with the Krafts from the start, this controversy could have been prevented.

The county has no one to "punish" but itself.

B. A. Frantz, Timonium

Election results suggest no real change for city

The Sun's editorial proclaimed, "O'Malley's landslide is mandate for change" (Nov. 3), but I fail to see that Baltimore voters have opted for change.

The only changes are that the new mayor is a white, male tax-and-spend liberal instead of a black, male tax-and-spend liberal. And the city council president is a black female, tax-and-spend liberal instead of a black, male tax-and-spend liberal.

I defy anyone to show me how Baltimore is ever going to be anything more than what it has sadly and embarrassingly become under the leadership of the Democratic Party.

Larry Leone, Edgemere

GOP should have scored Buchanan's racism long ago

When Pat Buchanan left the Republican party, GOP leaders hit the talk shows to brand him an anti-Semite and a racist. These same leaders, including Texas Gov. George W. Bush, had just finished courting Mr. Buchanan to stay in the party and support its presidential nominee.

Mr. Buchanan made his name as a Republican speech writer for Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon and later Ronald Reagan. Crafting his speeches to appeal to racist voters, Mr. Buchanan helped set the tone for conservative rhetoric for a generation.

In the 1960s, Mr. Buchanan's use of racist code words helped deliver to the GOP the votes of southern Democrats who felt betrayed by Lyndon Johnson's civil rights and voting rights acts.

Thirty years later, Republicans are still flirting with racial politics. .

And few Republicans stood up to condemn Mr. Buchanan until he jumped parties.

Richard L. Ottenheimer, Baltimore

Gov. Bush is wrong: values belong at home

I was flabbergasted when I read The Sun's article about Texas Gov. George W. Bush's push for teaching morals in school ("Bush calls for focus on moral values in schools," Nov. 3). Schools have a difficult enough time teaching kids how to read and add. They do not need the unnecessary burden of teaching morals.

And if schools were to teach morals, whose morals would they teach -- Mr. Bush's, President Clinton's, William Donald Schaefer's?

Teaching morals should be left to the parents; they have the obligation to teach their children right from wrong.

But, I suppose if you want to be president, it's better to criticize schools than parents for our society's moral decline.

Edward Hershon, Reisterstown

Pete Rose, Bill Clinton both betrayed our trust

Does anyone see the similarity between the public response to Jim Gray's interview of Pete Rose and the public response to the Kenneth Starr's investigation of Bill Clinton? Both Mr. Rose and Mr. Clinton unashamedly denied the facts of their misdeeds, yet they are defended, even cheered, by the public.

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