Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

February 05, 2005

Howard County is saving land for the future

I strongly disagree with Tom Horton's column that argues that Howard County's agricultural preservation program is not worthy of state support because it is not backed up by large-acre agricultural zoning ("Zoning key to preserving open space," Jan. 28).

During the 1980s, the county zoning board initiated two large-acre zoning proposals. I supported these proposals, but they failed because of strong public opposition.

Thus those of us who wanted to retain some farmland and not have door-to-door development focused our attention on strengthening our agricultural preservation program.

And we have had good results. Yes, we would like to have more land in agricultural preservation, but we have preserved 34,000 acres. This represents a significant percentage of the land outside the county's metropolitan district.

Howard County's land preservation program has succeeded in the face of high land prices and intense development pressures.

We are, after all, located close to both Baltimore and Washington, and we are home to that pricey suburb called Columbia, which has spawned its own pricey suburbs.

And I think that the fact that the land we have preserved is so close to large centers of population makes our preserved land more valuable to both the state and county.

J. Philip Jones

Ellicott City

The writer is a Howard County dairy farmer.

Facing a choice on open spaces

Many thanks to Timothy B. Wheeler ("Md. farm preservation effort losing ground," Jan. 24) and Tom Horton ("Zoning key to preserving open space," Jan. 28) for their informative articles concerning land preservation in Maryland.

We, as Marylanders, have arrived at a fork in the road in trying to save our natural resources, farmlands, waterways, forests and wildlife.

Now is the time that we have to either throw in the towel and give in to the developers' dreams of well-padded bank accounts (which could also mean wildlife extinction, land fragmentation, excessive pollution, destruction of adequate food-producing agricultural lands, overenrollment in schools and escalating traffic accidents on overcrowded roads), or continue to support the process of permanently preserving lands for present and future generations.

Such a pastoral view only enhances the health, safety, spirituality and welfare of a community and the environment. And the landowners who participate in such an approach are modern-day heroes, secure in knowing they've fought against sprawl.

Lynne Jones

Parkton

The writer is the chairwoman of Citizens Against Loyola Multi-use Center.

Same-sex unions are a civil matter

As a religious person, I very much appreciated the Rev. Jason Poling's column "Rally against same-sex marriage misses the point" (Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 27).

As a lawyer, I'd like to add that I am afraid many religious people in Maryland are unclear about how legalization of same-sex marriage would affect their communities of faith.

If civil marriage became legal in this state for gay people, it would have no bearing on the decision of a denomination or an individual minister about whether to offer the sacrament of marriage or to bless a same-sex couple in any way.

If you doubt this, think about the fact that divorce is legal but some religious communities and ministers choose not to marry people with a history of divorce.

Legal marriage simply provides a couple with certain rights and responsibilities under the law, such as the right to hospital visitation and mutual responsibility for debts.

That is the beauty of separation of church and state in this great nation.

Jennifer E. Lloyd

Baltimore

`Liberal' reporting keeps minds open

I have read more than one column from Paul Moore expressing journalistic angst over the issue of balance. And I know that there are a large number of people who believe that reporting is "balanced" as long as it panders to their political and social beliefs ("Readers see bias as Sun editors seek balance," Jan. 30).

If a report considers opposing views and belief sets without being judgmental about those beliefs, it is often labeled as "liberal."

Unfortunately for The Sun's critics, one dictionary defines liberal as "broad-minded, tolerant; esp. not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms."

Thus I find it hard to see how The Sun can be unbiased and open-minded in its reporting and not be subject to the criticism of being liberal; these are closely associated concepts.

I would much rather read the balanced journalism found in The Sun than subject myself to reporting that is bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy and tradition. The latter can be found elsewhere, cynically labeled by marketing sophists as "fair and balanced."

Keep up the good work and quit worrying about the "liberal" label. Being tagged with it is a clear indication that The Sun is doing its job correctly.

John Seed

Ellicott City

Md. charter schools face enough barriers

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