Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

August 15, 2004

Welcome diversity to Waverly Woods

[On Aug. 12], the Sun reported on the conflicted senior housing proposal at Waverly Woods. "NO 102" was the sticker worn by residents from Waverly Woods at a recent Howard County zoning hearing. Should the sticker really have read "No to Difference?"

People have been quoted in this debate stating concern about the concentration of moderate-income units into a single building. If only concern for the well-being of the potential unit residents was really driving this issue.

Oh, there is concern for these potential new residents, but the reported concerns of their future neighbors has nothing to do with the new residents' well-being. It does seem to have everything to do with their potential race!

Listen to what the residents are saying. [One man] moved to Waverly Woods because it was marketed to him as a place to have "nice homes and families and all." He continues: "That is not going to be true if this thing happens. You're going to have Section 8 coming in and destroying the whole community. Criminals coming in and everything else coming in there."

Could the "everything else" coming into Western Howard County be an Asian, or an Hispanic, or worse yet, an African-American senior making up to $46,000 per year?

Or, how about [another resident's] assessment of the situation on 25 June 2004? "We can end up with low-income people living in Waverly Woods along with the crime and the lack of concern about property values that comes along with them."

It is sad that we live in a society and in a community that continues to tolerate discrimination. The words spoken by these two Waverly Woods residents are the kind of subtle discriminatory statements that are made every day in our community, state and nation. It should be an outrage to us all.

Howard County has a serious housing problem, and the problem is lack of diversity. The white upper middle class residents of this county have constructed high-priced communities and have gated them with economics.

From the statements of these two residents from one such "gated community," we can see just how successful these communities have been. If we want to live in a "real community," then we need to be ready to stand up for those of difference and welcome them as friend and neighbor. Until that time, full steam ahead on printing the stickers!

Rev. Martin J. Burnham


The writer is associate pastor of St. Louis Parish.

Rouse Co. proposal angers resident

As a longtime resident of Columbia's Town Center I am especially appalled by the proposed plans of the Rouse Company to turn the area around Merriweather Post Pavilion into a commercial complex. What are they thinking? This is not what I bought into. This is not what most of the Town Center residents bought into. We bought the James Rouse dream.

It was just a few months ago that building permits were denied to a high-end grocery store from Rochester, N.Y., because the warehouse property was not zoned for a grocery store and would be a "threat" to Giant and Safeway. Is the beautifully wooded property around Merriweather Post Pavilion zoned for big-box retail stores? Does yet another Wal-Mart not threaten existing big-box stores? Does the Town Center really need to compete with Dobbin Center?

The Rouse Company should know that the current residents of Town Center will not allow this to happen without a long, hard fight. We will do all that is necessary to preserve the beauty and integrity of our community. We have too much invested in our homes and lives to allow the Rouse Company or any one else to destroy it for the sake of some corporate bottom line.

PollyAnn Burkert

Town Center

Town Center needs comprehensive plan

I am in total agreement with County Councilman Ken Ulman's opposition to the TRC [the Rouse Co.] proposal for retail commercial on the Crescent site. This may be a scare tactic, but given the insensitivity of the TRC to development for Town Center, I think they must be taken seriously.

Their only interest is the bottom line, which does not include quality of life and the desirable future of Town Center. TRC clearly has no vision for the future of Town Center. How can they without a comprehensive plan?

I cannot understand why TRC resists Ken Ulman's call for a comprehensive plan for the proposed mixed-use Crescent site and all of Town Center. The process for submitting New Town parcel development plans was created over 38 years ago.

Today the process in place has been a disservice for Town Center, where never has a comprehensive plan or professional design review been required to show how each new proposed project fits into the total environment. If Baltimore can do it for over 35 years, progressive Howard County should also be able to provide professional design review.

What the present process allows is "undercover" spot zoning and spot development to the ultimate detriment of the whole of Town Center. If any place in the county and in Columbia demands a comprehensive plan and professional architectural design review, it is for the Town Center.

A dense, multi-use Town Center cannot be developed bit by bit and somehow all come together by magic. The TRC attitude against preparing a comprehensive plan for Town Center is totally the opposite of what Jim Rouse would demand of his company.

For his entire life Jim was a champion of comprehensive planning and process openness as the only way to create a rational, livable and profitable community. I know because I was one of the original planners for Columbia.

Robert Tennenbaum

Wilde Lake

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