November 26, 2006

THE ISSUE: -- Some of those in the area near Lisbon object to a developer's plans to build 20 condominiums for seniors in five buildings made to look like five large houses. The new units would sell for up to $400,000. But some residents complain the new homes might strain their wells and hurt their property values -- one said, "We don't want low-income housing out here." In your view, how justified are such concerns?

It's housing elitists who oppose senior plan

If those who spoke against the proposed senior condos in the western part of the county were truly concerned about the stress on their wells, I would agree with them. As a 30-plus-year resident of this part of the county, I have watched in horror as ever-larger homes have decimated the once-bucolic countryside, and I do wonder if my well will run dry, thanks to these monstrosities.

I believe, however, that the real issue of these people is property values. And that concern I do not share. Four hundred thousand dollars is not exactly slum housing. I am saddened by this elitist view. Housing prices in Howard County are ridiculous, and I say, "congratulations" to the developer for considering housing that might possibly be within the reach of "55 and better" folks who do not have unlimited income after retirement, but love Howard County.

My present, rather modest, home is probably worth in the $400,000-$500,000 price range. Would those who worry about their home values like to tear down the smaller homes like mine so it doesn't hurt their property values? That might sound silly, but why is it any sillier than being opposed to building affordable housing -- even in western Howard County.

Phyllis Parker


Affordable housing won't hurt values

I am baffled by the Lisbon residents who object to the plan to build 20 condominiums for seniors. These units would sell for between $300,000 and $400,000. People who qualify for those mortgages are not low income by anyone's standards. To even call these units "affordable" is a stretch.

It seems that unfounded fear (or worse) is at work here. These people fear that the new homes "might" strain their wells or hurt their property values. Many studies have been done that show real affordable housing does not affect the resale price of nearby homes. I have seen pictures of the type of "multiplex" houses which are being proposed for Lisbon, and you cannot tell them apart from any of the other large homes in western Howard County.

I wonder what would have happened if the people who already lived in Lisbon manifested these fearful attitudes when these complainers moved in. What happened to the Golden Rule and neighborliness? As we enter the holiday season, it is sad to see that Scrooge is alive and well among our "neighbors."

Cathy Stefano


Maybe holiday spirit best viewed from afar

As a 30-year resident in Howard County, I can certainly respect statements by some in the Lisbon community who don't want senior housing out there. But I do have one question. Would it be OK if we drive by some evening to see their Christmas lights in our slightly dinged up 1997 Toyota Corolla?

Lew Rodgers


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