Letters To The Editor


May 10, 2006

Let Allegany County remain rugged

I applaud The Sun for taking issue with the Allegany County Terrapin Run development project ("Sprawl moves far west," editorial, May 4).

This massive development would put thousands of homes near the Green Ridge State Forest. The editorial correctly identifies as part of the problem the fact that growth controls in developed areas are pushing new development out. But there is more to the story.

This particular push is into vulnerable Allegany County, which has one of the state's weaker economies. The local government's backing of the project shows a regrettable willingness to accept the problems that sprawl creates if a project boosts the local economy.

Much the same scenario is occurring on the Eastern Shore, in the case of development near the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

What is disturbing is that the state's political leadership is reluctant to intervene in this issue, deeming it a local matter, even though it affects important state interests.

There is also an irony and danger that if the development is allowed to proceed, it may not succeed. Witness the nearby Rocky Gap State Park, which now sports the name "Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort."

This was a pet project of a former speaker of the House of Delegates who represented Allegany County. He used his political muscle to have a commercial project erected on state parkland in an effort to boost the local economy. But the resort has not lived up to expectations.

The truth of the matter is that even though, as the editorial points out, there is a "growing willingness of Washington-area workers to commute as far as 100 miles away," Allegany County is still a distant, rugged area that does not lend itself to development.

This is the beauty of the area.

I hope it will not be marred by sprawl.

Theodore Levin


Circuitous commute only benefits OPEC

The Sun had a good editorial pointing out the poor planning that may result in turning a remote area in Allegany County near Little Orleans into a cookie-cutter suburban pod ("Sprawl moves far west," May 4).

But since the vogue these days is to defer to rugged individualists committed to the market dictating American consumer choices, I thought it would be best to point out some of the logistical problems that would face those who commute from Terrapin Run to Baltimore or Washington.

The trip from Little Orleans to either city would be a 200-mile, round-trip commute. Making this commute five times a week, 50 weeks a year, would put 50,000 miles on a vehicle.

Assuming, optimistically, that gas stays at about $3 a gallon, in a vehicle that averages 30 miles a gallon, the cost of gas for this hellacious commute would be about $5,000 a year.

Assuming that a vehicle has a life of 150,000 miles and costs $30,000, this would add another $10,000 a year just in depreciation of the value of the car.

And assuming a best-case scenario of no traffic snafus, this commuter would spend about four hours a day, or 20 hours a week, doing nothing but driving, which would add 50 percent to a 40-hour workweek.

It's enough to make the OPEC principalities wish more Americans were rugged individualists with such rustic yearnings.

Paul R. Schlitz Jr.


Voters will judge our energy fiasco

The whole Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. saga is becoming more and more like a circus. Calling the rate increase "a hot political topic" is putting it mildly ("City Web site adds to BGE rates confusion," May 6).

While Mayor Martin O'Malley is calling for the resignation of Public Service Commission Chairman Kenneth D. Schisler, he should also be pressing for a special session of the state legislature.

If there's no special session and this farce of a phase-in plan goes through, then it's bye-bye to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and hello to Mr. O'Malley or Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan in the governor's office.

The people will vote out Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and his pals as well.

To heck with your party lines, Mr. Governor and Mr. and Mrs. Legislator.

This is a people's issue that might be settled in the people's court - and that's on Election Day.

David Boyd

White Hall

Lower speed limit can cut gas use now

There are three immediate options for gas-price relief ("Little help seen in cutting gas cost," May 4).

One, suspend the gasoline tax to immediately reduce the price of gas. This would provide some relief - until the oil companies move the price of gas back to where they want it.

Two, order the car companies to build more fuel-efficient cars, trucks and SUVs.

This would bring some relief in two or three years.

Three, immediately cut the maximum speed limit nationwide to 60 miles per hour and aggressively enforce this limit. Speeding fines would need to be increased and the monies collected placed in a new fund to help low-income families purchase fuel.

Option three would provide immediate savings regardless of the vehicle driven.

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