Speak out

Your Opinions

September 25, 2005

THE ISSUE: The Carroll County commissioners will ask the county legislative delegation to propose a bill that would allow small-time gambling at the five senior centers. The ordinance would allow small amounts to be bet daily on bingo, cards and billiards. Do you think the legislators should sponsor the bill in the 2006 General Assembly session?Gambling bill should cover centers, more

Gambling bill should cover centers, more

Finally, the Carroll County commissioners have tackled a major problem: gambling by seniors. I haven't seen the proposed legislation, but I'll bet it doesn't go far enough.

Why should the ordinance address only five senior centers? When I get a group of friends together, my house becomes a senior center. If we play some nickel-dime poker, I don't want to be raided by the sheriff. Let's be realistic - have the bill cover us all.

James F. Bard Jr. Westminster

Mount Airy mayor to veto growth bill

Mount Airy mayor to veto growth bill

Elected officials deserve to be held accountable -- accountable for promises made prior to the election, accountable for decisions made after taking office, accountable for following through on what is in the best interest of the general public.

During the past several years, residential growth was controlled by means of a temporary cap imposed on new housing developments, pending implementation of our Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO). The temporary cap has expired and annual allocation of building permits has returned to 40 per development.

After much public input and participation, the Mount Airy Town Council voted (3-2) to cap annual residential growth at 130 units per development (Proposed Ordinance 2005-13). This is the only change in Mount Airy's growth cap, with no change in the 40-permit allocation.

Your mayor, council and members of our community have spent many hours, weeks, months debating the merits of an annual growth cap. We have discussed the issue of precisely what type of growth cap (overall quota on the number of permits to be allotted based on a percentage basis or numerical basis, and allocation based on annual number of permits to be issued per residential development) would be appropriate.

I campaigned as a "responsible growth" candidate and have done my best to fulfill this expectation after taking office in 2002. I support the APFO 100 percent, but that alone is not enough to ensure a good balance between residential growth and greatly needed commercial growth; nor does the APFO take into consideration preserving the rural charm of our fine community.

The community has clearly demonstrated that it supports something less than what the council voted for at the September town meeting. Councilman Peter Helt and I worked together to develop a unified position that is responsive to the concerns expressed by the community. Contrary to what was voted on, we have come up with an annual cap consistent with the following:

24 permits per development.

100 permits overall for new development, including six permits set aside for infill development, to be allocated only after permits for previously approved projects drop below 100.

Deletion from the Town Code, Section 47-2.1C, the provision authorizing council to issue in excess of 40 permits to any one residential development "... as determined by the council to be in the best interest of the general welfare of the town."

Consistent with my position on responsible growth, I have decided to veto the legislation as voted upon at the September town meeting, clearly not to eliminate the growth cap, but instead, to send the legislation back to council for further consideration. I sincerely hope that the mayor and council can all work together and resolve this important issue of growth management in the Town of Mount Airy. The community has spoken; let us see who is listening.

James S. Holt Mount Airy mayor

BGE won't share plan for cutting trees

By the time this letter appears in the paper, BGE's chainsaws should be buzzing on the south side of Route 140, the gateway into Carroll County. The majority of members of the Environmental Advisory Council grilled BGE officials for two meetings about their aggressive tree removal plan.

We were continuously reminded by BGE officials and by the chairman of the Environmental Advisory Board that we have no authority as a council to stop BGE from cutting down hundreds of trees in their right of way.

Each of us, I believe, was acutely aware of this fact at all times. All we had in our quiver was the power of suasion, the power to invite a large, influential company to compromise. This member, at least, does not feel we made much headway on the path toward partnership.

Indeed, as we were meeting, a magnificent and rare bald cypress tree that once stood near the Reese Fire Hall lay in a pile of logs. A BGE contractor cut it down. This is just the beginning.

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