Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

July 22, 2006

HarborView defends waterfront project

With regard to The Sun's editorial "A view too costly" (July 16), I contend that there has not been - nor will there ever be - what the editorial called a "flagrant" violation of development regulations on the part of HarborView Properties.

In fact, we contend that at every step of the way, we have fully complied with the Key Highway Urban Renewal Plan.

Moreover, city housing officials conscientiously monitored every step in design and construction and they continue to do so.

The editorial labels the "offending structures" as "roof pop-tops," and continues, "All that was permitted under the law was a structure for mechanical equipment."

But call them "roof pop-tops" or "mechanical structures" or "enclosed landings" or even, as HarborView did in its sales literature, "penthouses," they fully comply with the law. (And, to be clear, Baltimore's zoning code specifically identifies as "penthouses" elevator and stairway enclosures on the roof of a building.)

When we are provided an opportunity to present our record, the facts will speak for themselves. We believe all concerns will be addressed in a way that is satisfactory and shows we are in keeping with zoning and building regulations.

Since the late 1980s, we have transformed an area that was an eyesore into one of Baltimore's crown jewels.

Richard A. Swirnow

Baltimore

The writer is chairman of HarborView Properties Development Co.

Planning is key to city's renewal

The Sun's coverage of the community around the American Brewery has painted a very real picture of the condition of that community ("Finding a Way," July 16, and "A Neighborhood Abandoned," June 25-26). But these conditions are hardly unique to that area. There are similar areas throughout the city, where many once-inhabited houses stand vacant.

While this may seem to be a problem, it could also be an opportunity for the city.

Maryland is projected to continue growing for the foreseeable future in both population and jobs. Many of the jurisdictions outside the city have used up most of their open land for new development, unless they allow uncontrolled sprawl to become the rule.

Yet in the city, we have not only land that could be redeveloped but also the whole infrastructure of roads, sewers, water, etc., that is needed to support a larger population.

To turn around many of our most blighted areas will take years of dedication, planning and determination.

Planning will be the most important as we will need to look at each area to determine its strengths and build on them.

We will need to invest not only in bricks and mortar but also in our people, to rebuild parks and create new ones, such as bike trails that connect all areas of the city.

We should be planning around transit and using it as a tool for growth and development.

And we have to ensure that as our communities begin to grow and appreciate in value, our citizens are not priced out of them.

Serving on the Baltimore City Task Force on Inclusionary Zoning and Housing as part of the process of developing the city's master plan drove home to me how important the planning process will be in creating a Baltimore that all can enjoy.

Yet even this master plan will not work if we as a city lack the dedication to implement it over the many years to come.

Bernard C. Young

Baltimore

The writer is a member of the City Council.

Growth threatens our quality of life

I read The Sun's article on the expected increase in jobs and revenue as a result of the base realignment and closure (BRAC) process with great interest ("Base realignment bringing jobs, costs," July 13).

I have been following The Sun's coverage of development issues, such as the planned housing development near the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, the proposed annexation of a large tract of land by the City of Aberdeen and plans for a desalination plant to meet the projected water needs of Harford County.

I see that state, county and local governments are excited about the increase in jobs and tax revenues and welcome these developments.

However, there can be such a thing as too much development, and I submit that the BRAC-related growth may in fact be detrimental to the quality of life of most Marylanders.

The projected increase in tax revenues will never be enough to build and maintain the new infrastructure that will be needed to support the influx of residents - i.e., roads, schools, hospitals, emergency services, water and sewer facilities.

We have had ample experience with such growth in Harford County, where school overcrowding and redistricting are a contentious and ongoing problem and the water table has dropped to alarming levels.

We are bursting at the seams, and the addition of an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 residents may lead to even more crowded roads, more pressure on public services and even shortages of water.

The spiraling cost of housing has made it unaffordable for many families, who have moved to Stewartstown and other towns in Pennsylvania.

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