A time for cool heads

Howard's big decision: Opponents of Maple Lawn Farms damage their cause with intemperate criticism.

July 28, 2000

THE PROCESS by which Howard County is deciding the fate of a major commercial and residential development seems a model of process and citizen involvement.

Disgruntled neighbors spoke at length. The developer responded. Now the county council, serving as a zoning board, will decide if the Maple Lawn Farms development may proceed.

Further adjustments in density -- the number of housing units per acre -- may come to placate critics.

Yet, even as the zoning board considers this demand, opponents issue threats against the political lives of the zoning board members -- particularly that of Guy Guzzone, who is seen as the swing vote.

Mr. Guzzone's thoughtful consideration of the issues has been hailed by the opponents -- but only so long as he was a potential vote for them.

"The bottom line is whether or not he realizes his political future is on the line," said John W. Taylor, past president of Howard Countians for Responsible Growth and opponent of the project.

What Mr. Guzzone realizes is that this land will be developed one way or another. He seems committed to finding a middle ground between the neighbors' concerns and the county's decision to put needed new housing and commercial development on this land.

If Mr. Guzzone's political life were to be threatened by such a vote, wouldn't the threat be greater if he ignored the needs of the entire county? One hopes county voters are looking for representatives who have the courage of their convictions, threats be damned.

No one rejoices in the pain of those who object -- least of all Mr. Guzzone, who insisted on delaying the project until adjacent roads are improved.

To threaten him now is an act of poor politics and poor citizenship.

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