Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 08, 2006

City isn't upholding its own zoning rules

The city's slow and tepid response to zoning violations in the HarborView development is inexcusable ("HarborView wins height fight," Sept. 3).

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. It is business as usual for city officials (who are paid by city residents to look out for their interests) to look the other way when developers come to town.

When forced to pay attention by community residents and City Council members, city inspectors, zoning officials and planners often pay only lip service to residents' concerns. Then they let the developers have their way.

I know this because my small Franklintown neighborhood is dealing with building violations on a much smaller but no less important scale.

In my experience, construction inspection and zoning enforcement in Baltimore is not based on the law or on the interests of the community. It appears to be based on the city's misguided notion that construction at any cost will add to the city's tax base.

This is a very shortsighted view.

The city apparently has no will to enforce its zoning regulations, which leads one to wonder why we even have the regulations.

The message to developers in Baltimore is clear: Do whatever you want. The residents of Baltimore will pay for your mistakes for decades to come.

Tawny K. Oram

Baltimore

The writer is a member of the Franklintown Community Association.

58-foot height limit seems to mean little

The Sun's article "HarborView wins height fight" (Sept. 3) illustrates how this city and its laws are for sale, especially in an election year.

I am a resident of South Baltimore. I think development is important, and I have witnessed gentrification save my neighborhood.

However, it is disheartening when city government seems not to think that a 58-foot height limit means 58 feet.

Ray O'Brocki

Baltimore

Razing Rochambeau will ruin streetscape

There are unintended consequences to decisions. If the Rochambeau Apartments are removed, the side of the Franklin Street parking garage would become very visible from Charles Street alongside the Basilica of the Assumption ("Rochambeau decision upheld," Sept. 6).

Why not take down the garage and build a prayer garden on that site?

One of the charming things about this stretch of Charles Street is the continuity of the buildings. If you look farther north, there are many gaps in the streetscape where structures have been removed.

Good buildings encourage pedestrians, and Charles Street needs more of both things.

If the Rochambeau had never been built, its site would call for a structure very similar to what is there now.

Why knock down a building that is already there and can enhance Charles Street?

Chris Wulin

Baltimore

Why church needs to control property

So Paul Warren, vice president of the Mount Vernon Belvedere Association, finds provisions of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 - a federal law protecting church property from secular control - to be "legal technicalities" ("Rochambeau decision upheld," Sept. 6)?

It's thinking like that that made the law necessary in the first place.

Michael Calo

Glen Burnie

Shankar's message wastes school time

The Sun's article about Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was very illustrative of two things ("Lesson plan on peace," Sept. 2).

First, it shows the problems in our school systems, particularly in Baltimore, where the schools permitted study time to be devoted to the preaching of this spiritual leader. Given the dismal state of Baltimore's schools, wouldn't this time be better devoted to the three R's?

Second, the article once again betrays The Sun's anti-Christian bias.

The Sun has taken a very strong stand on the issue of "separation of church and state" in its editorials on many occasions.

Apparently, in its eyes, this principle is applicable only to Christianity, since Mr. Shankar is proselytizing for his religion and The Sun chooses to give him praise and publicity.

J. Edward Head

Elkridge

No subpoena sent to climate expert

Subpoenas are powerful tools. The House Energy and Commerce Committee uses them sparingly, and nearly always to squeeze little drops of truth out of the sorts of people you often see on the TV news, hiding from the cameras by pulling coats over their heads.

Therefore, saying matter-of-factly that a respected climatologist got one from the committee, as law professors Wendy Wagner and Rena Steinzor did in "Saving science from politicians" (Opinion

Commentary, Sept. 5), was both mistaken and a little silly.

The committee's actions were only one item on their list of allegations. But I counted three mistakes in the lone paragraph they aimed our way:

There was no "congressional subpoena" sent to Michael Mann, the global warming specialist. We sent him a letter, not a subpoena.

Mr. Mann isn't at the University of Virginia anymore. He left for Penn State a year ago.

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