Positives, negatives in 1,000 Friends report I read...


October 21, 2001

Positives, negatives in 1,000 Friends report

I read with interest a recent article about a report card issued by 1,000 Friends of Maryland regarding Howard County land use planning ("Report critical of land policies," Oct. 10).

We find agreement with 1,000 Friends' assessment of current land use policies in a number of arenas. One which I would like to stress is the attention given by the county to agricultural preservation. While the county's current efforts are commendable, the current strategy toward agricultural preservation is completely insufficient to allow the county to reach its goal.

Indeed, local planning officials feel that the 50,000-acre goal is unreasonable and can never be met. We feel that the county has not exhausted all available funding sources, and has not thought creatively to explore other options, such as private funding, so the 50,000-acre goal can be achieved.

There are other areas within 1,000 Friends' report card that invites critical comment. One is the issue of housing density. It was a shame that Dru Schmidt-Perkins' comment that Howard's density requirement is abysmal compared to parts of Baltimore County that have 1-home-per-50-acre zoning was printed.

While HCCA may support reduced density in certain parts of the county, we realize that our location in the region, and the fact that Howard's acreage is significantly smaller than Baltimore County's, in addition to Howard's property tax needs and the private property rights of landowners, make a 50-acre density option practically impossible.

It is interesting to note that 1,000 Friends has decided to lambaste Howard County for its density requirements as being sprawl-promoting while, 18-months ago, they recommended 3-unit-per- acre zoning in Maple Lawn Farms, which not only promoted sprawl, but also ignored agreements which had been made between community leaders and planning officials for a lower density.

Lastly, we also find that 1,000 Friends falls short in defining the reasons why the county's land use policies are less than ideal. We feel that the playing field of land use in Howard County is far from level. We have stressed for years the need for a Hearing Examiner, People's Counsel and the need for citizens to be more involved in the land use process. Perhaps instead of issuing "report cards" that serve only the use of being a good media hit, 1,000 Friends can work with community groups on policies that correct the problems at their source.

Bill Woodcock

Columbia(Bill Woodcock is president of the Howard County Citizens Association)

Cameras can't replace officers giving tickets

I read your article "Camera tested in school zone," Oct. 8, and I feel very strongly [about] this issue. I myself received a ticket for running a red light a year ago in Montgomery County, and the punishment for that was much greater than the punishment for a simple red-light camera ticket.

I would rather have received a red-light camera ticket than one issued by an actual officer. A red-light ticket is a fine of less than $100, and my ticket was two points and $120, not including court fees.

Comparing these fines, I know personally that the devices used to make driving safer will never be as effective as an actual officer handing you the ticket. Coming from a teen-ager's perspective, receiving a ticket from an officer would have a greater impact on me compared to receiving a small fine in the mail after running a red light I probably don't remember running.

However, I understand that safety is behind these cameras, but parents should keep a better eye on their children in these specific areas. People may begin to slow down and take a second look while at the same time the parents should be doing their part.

After reading another resident's opinion in this article about having patrol cars in the area, rather than the camera, I agreed that would be the best idea for this problem. Without the officer there to make your heart skip a beat, then these simple devices will never be as effective as a sign flashing your speed at you as you pass that area.

Kristle Strieter


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