Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 28, 2006

Planners overlooked size of penthouses

The statement by city Planning Director Otis Rolley III, reported in The Sun on Friday, that planners in his department had "flagged" the penthouses on HarborView's blueprints is not supported by any evidence I saw in examining the files of his department or of the Department of Housing and Community Development ("City halts harbor project," June 23).

I have examined every document in the files of both departments regarding the Pier Homes at HarborView - or at least what the responsible officials told me were all of the documents.

The only thing remotely resembling a warning in the files was a small yellow Post-it affixed to one blueprint among three huge rolls of them submitted by HarborView in support of its application for a building permit and the basis for the granting of one.

That unsigned Post-It said: "Penthouse shall not be use [sic] for any purpose except as permitted by code." Some warning.

Furthermore, these drawings made it clear even to a layman that the design was in violation of the height limit in the urban renewal ordinance.

The total height of the Pier Homes was not specified anywhere that I saw. But in several drawings, the height of each story and its height above the harbor (the baseline for calculating the allowable height) were given. Even a third-grader could have added up those numbers. Apparently, no official bothered to do so.

In addition, the drawings made it clear that the penthouses - as they were clearly labeled on the drawings - were not meant to house mechanical equipment, the only legal justification for permitting them.

The heating and air conditioning equipment is on the roof deck outside the offending structures. Inside, the drawings include an "optional bar area" as well as ample electrical outlets and heating and air conditioning vents plainly designed for living space.

Yet the record is replete with certifications by city planners that the project was in compliance with the urban renewal ordinance.

James S. Keat

Baltimore

The writer is a former president of the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association.

Fining the developer won't restore views

Height limitations of new construction in certain areas such as the HarborView development were devised to ensure that such projects would not violate the historic aesthetics of adjacent neighborhoods ("Builder draws ire of city leaders," June 25).

So how does imposing a fine for such violations serve as equitable recompense for loss of quality of life by the inhabitants of those communities?

Obviously, the only equitable solution is to demolish the completed structures, or somehow employ imaginative architectural approaches to bring the structures into compliance with the rules.

Is that a problem for the builder? Sure. His cost for the entire project may exceed his original estimate. But such are the risks of entrepreneurship.

Finally, where were the city building inspectors during construction? Shouldn't they have discovered the infractions a lot sooner?

Wilfred Romanoff

Baltimore

Council can do little to help residents

It is so sad that our City Council members have so limited power to intervene on behalf of the people they represent ("Builder draws ire of city leaders," June 25). This waterfront development issue is just one more example.

City Councilman Edward L. Reisinger has been the only member to stand up to the good-old-boy mentality in City Hall.

As for our mayor, his willingness to overlook problems like this one speaks volumes.

Teresa E. Awalt

Baltimore

Giving away secrets hurts our security

I read the headline "U.S. secretly tracking terrorists' bank data" (June 23) and had to shake my head. Once again, for some reason, the media feel the need to expose what our government is trying to do to keep us safe.

Why? Personally, I'm glad the government is doing the things it needs to do (whether in secret or not) to protect me, my family, my friends and my country from another attack.

Let it do its job, and stop giving away all our secrets.

Richard K. Esenwine

Dundalk

Attack the dictators before they strike us

North Korea is preparing to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile, which it might be able to arm with a nuclear bomb that could be aimed at Seoul, Tokyo, Los Angeles or a similar target ("N. Korea says it isn't bound by missile ban," June 21).

In the face of this threat, American military action is not only justified, it is imperative.

We cannot merely hope that we can shoot this missile down if necessary. We must destroy this missile before it is fired.

We must also put an end to the dictatorship that creates such ongoing threats.

It is madness to risk the lives of millions on the whims of a dictator, whether he be Kim Jong Il of North Korea or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.

Our only recourse against these threats is to use our strength to defend ourselves.

Kurt A. Snavely

Hershey, Pa.

Red Cross insults the state of Israel

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