Historic tax credits save millions as they help revive...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 05, 2002

Historic tax credits save millions as they help revive the city

The Sun's article "Historic tax credit called `out of control'" (Feb. 27) failed to explain how these credits benefit Baltimore and the entire state. But these credits help investors rehabilitate under-utilized historic buildings. And they save millions each year by concentrating development in already built-up areas.

When new shopping centers, housing and industries are built on previously undeveloped land, there is a hidden cost to state and local governments. New roads, infrastructure, schools and fire and police protection must be provided. Historic tax credits encourage development in areas where these services already exist.

The city is a primary benefactor for these credits because it leads the state in historic resources. Shouldn't we encourage this one positive aspect of Baltimore?

The article also failed to explain that these credits benefit homeowners and nonprofit institutions, and that this tax relief encourages residents of historic districts to make improvements, thus increasing property tax revenues.

Historic districts in Baltimore include not only well-established areas such as Mount Washington and Roland Park, but also waterfront neighborhoods such as Fells Point, Federal Hill and Canton, and areas in need of increased investment such as Franklin Square and Marble Hill.

The state legislature is considering killing a tax credit that encourages desirable development. That's not Smart Growth. It's dumb government.

Fred Shoken

Baltimore

Driving huge vehicles doesn't make us safe

The drawing above Nancy Mitchell Pfotenhauer's column "New mandates for gas mileage would risk lives" (Opinion

Commentary, Feb. 26) effectively illustrates my understanding of the situation the column addresses: A couple zooms along, apparently basking in their false sense of security, while a more cautious couple proceeds carefully, hoping the tank beside them does not mow them down.

To buy an SUV, you must meet two conditions: You must be able to afford it and you must have no environmental awareness or conscience. For the rest of us, it is our loss that people think they can buy security through heavier cars.

If there is any security to be found, it lies in driving cautiously, not in frivolously squandering yet more of our resources.

Jordan Atanat

Baltimore

Nancy Mitchell Pfotenhauer argues that we need "heavier" cars to save lives on our highways. I doubt that is the answer to unnecessary deaths on the highways.

What I support, however, is recognition of our excessive dependence on fossil fuels, which is exacerbated by the trend toward bigger, less fuel-efficient vehicles.

We need to rethink the costs of America's auto-centric lifestyle and its impact on our health and the health of our nation.

Mike Herrmann

Arnold

President's energy policy violates biblical directive

As co-founders of Christian Youth for Conservation, a grassroots movement of high school and college youth, we believe implementing President Bush's proposed energy plan (which emphasizes fossil fuel use and inadequately supports renewable, long-term energy solutions) would directly contradict the biblical mandate to be stewards of the Earth.

We ask the president to support a global agreement to protect the Earth, to enact policies to reduce U.S. pollution through strong regulations on transportation and energy production, and to be a witness to the American people concerning the environmental crisis.

When Christian youth speak out, the president should listen.

Brad Taylor

Phil Taylor

Port Deposit

Nominee's judicial practice suggests he's unfit for bench

The confirmation questions about U.S. District Court Judge Charles Pickering can be easily answered by focusing not on Mr. Pickering's views regarding race, but on his views on judicial intervention.

If all the facts stated in Steven Lubet's column "The judge and the cross burner" (Opinion * Commentary, Feb. 28) are accurate, it is highly unlikely that Mr. Pickering will render justice fairly, because he fails to follow mandatory sentencing laws, intimidates prosecutors into dropping charges to obtain a "fair sentence" and violates ethical rules to accomplish his goals.

What more do we need to know?

Sarah King Scott

Monkton

Don't give Clinton credit for reforming welfare

"Clinton's" welfare reforms ("Bush proposes tightening Clinton's welfare reforms," Feb. 27)? Give me a break.

Mr. Clinton vetoed welfare reform three times before Dick Morris told him he was going to lose the 1996 election if he didn't sign a welfare reform bill. Then Mr. Clinton took credit for it.

The Sun's political agenda is obvious and pathetic.

Rick Hiteshew

Columbia

Simple-minded legislation would create power problems

Del. Joan F. Stern, like many other legislators, has an oversimplified view of utility networks and how competitive services can be provided ("Phone company gets annoyed by bills, too," Feb. 27).

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