Big housing projects not smart for Shore

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 01, 2007

The state Board of Public Works' rejection of the Four Seasons development on Kent Island sends a strong message to backers of other mega-development projects on the Eastern Shore: Size matters ("Kent Island project is denied key permit," May 24).

With 1,350 homes planned for the Four Seasons project, this one development would have rivaled the historic village of Stevensville.

Similarly, the original plans for the Blackwater development near Cambridge would have increased the town's population more than 50 percent.

Is this really Smart Growth?

From the 1980s through the mid-1990s, most counties on the middle and upper Eastern Shore had 60 percent to 80 percent of their new houses built away from towns on large lots - destroying prime farmland and forestland. That was very bad.

Today, those counties have 60 percent to 80 percent of their new houses in towns on smaller lots.

Very good? Yes.

But locating new houses within towns is not enough.

Smart Growth on the Eastern Shore means new development should occur in towns and be designed and scaled to be compatible with those towns.

Affordable housing, walkability, economic development, traffic impact and infrastructure are also among the issues that should be addressed.

It is not surprising that citizens are irate about mega-developments such as the Four Seasons and Blackwater projects. These ham-handed appendages threaten to overwhelm adjacent towns.

We love our towns on the Eastern Shore.

Developers should practice their craft to meet the needs of our communities, with a priority on infill and redevelopment projects.

That would be Smart Growth on the Eastern Shore.

Rob Etgen

Queenstown

The writer is the executive director of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy.

Rejecting the permit will boost the bay

Gov. Martin O'Malley and state Comptroller Peter Franchot, acting as part of the state Board of Public Works, wisely voted against granting a wetlands-use permit for a massive 1,350-unit housing project on Kent Island - a project that would have been the largest development of critical areas land in Maryland history ("Permit denial stirs anger," May 27).

Unfortunately, many considered the granting of the permit routine. But the governor and comptroller carefully listened to hours of testimony, visited the site, analyzed the environmental risks, and then voted in the interests of the people and the environment instead of the powerful developers.

I'm proud of our governor and comptroller.

Not since the Harry R. Hughes administration has a governor taken such bold, progressive steps in protecting the tidewaters of our Chesapeake Bay.

Jay Falstad

Millington

The writer is communications director for the Queen Anne's Conservation Association.

Politics powerless to cut cost of gas

The cost of gas is based upon supply and demand. Intervention by politicians and the public on this issue is wasted effort ("Md. probes high gas prices," May 26).

Thus we can expect a lower cost per gallon after the summer driving season.

Other remedies for high gas prices include curtailing our driving, car pooling and using the light rail.

Less demand for gas will result in the major oil companies cutting the cost per gallon.

Bill Arwady

Towson

Carson warned us Earth was in peril

It seems that the attacks against Rachel Carson by the chemical industry and its allies will never cease ("Rachel Carson's legacy nothing to celebrate," Opinion * Commentary, May 27).

This time, their arrows are aimed at the results of her warnings about the indiscriminate use of DDT, which resulted in a ban on its use in the United States.

The column's authors suggest that Ms. Carson is responsible for the large growth of malaria in Third World countries as a result of that ban.

It should be noted that while DDT use was banned in the United States, it is still being manufactured here and distributed and used in some parts of the world.

Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring was a beautifully written, scientifically sound precautionary tale of the unintended consequences of the indiscriminate use of DDT.

The chemical made its way up through the food chain and still can be found in the cells of every living creature.

The earliest consequences of DDT's widespread use were the near-demise of the large birds of prey at the top of the food chain and the near-extinction of the bald eagle.

It is hard to imagine what America's natural world would look like had we not heeded Ms. Carson's warnings.

Ajax Eastman

Baltimore

Red Cross reunites war-torn families

Holocaust survivors can search for information about lost loved ones and document their own wartime experience now through the American Red Cross Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center, a fact not mentioned in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch editorial reprinted in The Sun ("What others are saying," editorial, May 23). More than 40,000 searches have been conducted since the Red Cross began providing this specialized tracing service, at no cost, in 1990.

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