March 05, 2006

THE ISSUE: -- Do you favor the proposal by Howard County officials to nearly triple -- to $36.5 million -- the amount the county is willing to spend on agricultural preservation and to double the maximum price per acre -- to $40,000 -- it will pay to keep its remaining farmland from sprouting new homes?

How much more must we preserve?

The fact of the matter is out of all the remaining land that is left to be developed in the west, 70 percent will be preserved through current zoning regulations as preservation parcels in subdivisions or by sending [development rights] with density easements restricting development. It's simple math. No matter what scenario you use, only 30 percent of the remaining land will be developed. The rest will be preserved.

How much more do we need to preserve? Why should we spend taxpayers' money to get the designation of "agricultural preservation" when in fact the sending preservation parcels will most likely still remain agricultural? Can we find a better utilization of this agricultural preservation budget to help the ag industry?

Jim Selfridge


Quality of life and expectations

This morning, I read all of the responses from last week's question regarding affordable housing. These are all inextricably linked, contentious and difficult issues.

Lest we forget, it is about two primary notions; quality of life and expectations of our elected officials. It will never be perfect, but quality of life is very good here and it can get better. We must find a way to protect land and grow at a measured pace, create the means to provide affordable housing while protecting property value and improve the infrastructure in a fiscally and environmentally responsible way.

There is no real choice in these matters. We must and will move forward. The quality of the results, and subsequently our lives here, is in the hands of the many elected officials we have "hired" to do an effective job. The hope is that we have placed the right individuals, with the requisite skills, wisdom, and political will, to do the right thing the vast majority of the time. And if they fail, we must have the will to find and elect those that can and will succeed.

Curt Rasmussen


We want your opinions


Wegmans Food Markets Inc. reportedly is looking for a location in Howard County that is properly zoned and large enough to satisfy a typical store of its size - which is more than twice the size of the largest supermarkets in the area. Where do you think Wegmans should locate? Are you concerned that a store like this would hurt grocery stores in Columbia's village centers?


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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