Consider growth, '06 elections

Speakout!

Your Opinions

Thoughts on issues relating to Howard County

April 17, 2005

Last week's question was an easy one: What issues should Howard County residents be most concerned about?Uncontrolled growth is causing schools to be overcrowded and the major and neighborhood roads to be congested.

Uncontrolled growth is county's No. 1 issue

Howard County is a drive-through county, being the second-smallest county, geographically, and the only county in Maryland surrounded by other counties. It is an attractive place to live between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore and has one of the best-rated school systems in the nation. Has the county government taken these factors into consideration during the last 30 years when development has run rampant? Emphatically NOT! Howard County does not need such lax developmental control to attract business. Howard County has risked loss of agricultural preservation money because it has failed to protect remaining farmland in the rural west. It has squandered many opportunities to control development in a way that the infrastructure could sustain the intense development pressures.

And now, the county is spending $250,000 for a "community-based master plan" to develop a very small area of one of the most planned cities in the nation - Columbia!

What about the rest of the Howard County? That kind of commitment should also be shown to citizens who live in other areas.

Too bad that the County Council members who represent Columbia have not given the same time and shown the same interest in the rest of the county when they have made their zoning decisions.

Angie Beltram

Ellicott City

A crucial concern: 2006 local elections

Howard County residents have one important concern: whom to elect to local offices in 2006.

We placed our faith and trust for seven years in those we elected to protect and serve the interests of this county's electors. Instead our pro--uncontrolled growth county executive, as well as each one of our pro--uncontrolled growth County Council/Zoning Board members turned a deaf ear to the repeated pleas of their electors to stop the rezoning of their open space, to stop the rezoning of their neighborhoods, to stop increasing density throughout the county. As a result of this indifference, numerous grassroots community groups, including Citizens for Open Process for Everyone (COPE) and Responsible Growth In Our Neighborhood (REGION) sprang up and spent large sums of money to combat the excesses of this pro-uncontrolled growth administration and zoning board. Residents of Howard County should not have to spend their family time and treasure protecting their families' quality of life.

Our pro--uncontrolled growth county executive and our pro--uncontrolled growth County Council/Zoning Board members have no problem hearing the zoning and density-increase requests of developers. Pro--uncontrolled growth advocates Fega, Robey, Merdon, Guzzone, Rakes and Ulman have gone so for as to create new zone categories to allow the developers to have their way. This pro-uncontrolled growth stance adversely affects the quality of life of our children in their public schools and significantly contributes to more gridlock on our inadequate road system in Howard County.

We need politicians in Howard County who are able to determine and protect their electors' interest and quality of life. Unfortunately, our elected officials appear to be more concerned about their political self-interest and filling their campaign coffers. Thousands of Howard County residents can hardly wait to provide elected officials with unpaid sabbaticals in the 2006 election.

Harry Dunbar

Columbia

We want your opinions

ISSUE: Ten Mount Hebron High School students were punished for drinking during a school-sponsored trip to Portugal and Spain. The students and their parents contend that their teacher, who was the trip's chaperone, gave them permission to have one drink. That allegation is under investigation by school officials. Each student was suspended for three days and banned from extracurricular and other school-related activities for 30 days, as called for in the school system's drug and alcohol policy. The students and their parents call the punishment harsh, considering the unusual circumstance surrounding the incident. But school officials say the students and their parents signed an agreement indicating that all school policies, including regulations against drugs and alcohol, apply to them on school-sponsored field trips. Parents are appealing the suspension to the Board of Education.

YOUR VIEW: Tell us what you think. Please send e-mail responses by Thursday to howard.speakout@baltsun.com. A selection of responses will be published Sunday. Please keep your responses short and include your name, address and telephone number. Addresses and phone numbers will not be published.

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