Letters

LETTERS

November 04, 2007

Developer explains Turf Valley plans

In an effort to keep the community better informed of our development at Turf Valley, I want to share information regarding our progress and dispel any "myths" that might exist.

Over the next decade, my family's land at Turf Valley will be developed into a mixed-used project designed to enhance the beauty, preserve the environment and provide services and housing choices much needed in western Howard County.

Our development is planned as a Maryland Smart Growth mixed-use, master-planned project and has been part of the Howard County General Plan since 1982. Smart Growth developments must preserve open space and critical environmental areas, as well as create diverse housing and walkable communities.

The land my parents purchased in the '70s was approximately 800 acres. As we develop in the future, over 350 of those acres will remain golf courses, 100 acres are protected environmental areas that will remain untouched and approximately 350 acres will be developed for both residential and commercial uses.

Developing land is like playing a football game. You must play by the rules and you have to take it a quarter at a time. Developers like us take our best available information before the game starts and develop a master game plan. We adjust our plans accordingly as the game unfolds -- development phase by development phase.

We have an exciting plan for the 350 acres at Turf Valley, but we can and will adjust those plans if we find elevated levels of substances in a soil sample, ground unsuitable to support a building or any other number of obstacles that development routinely faces. We will take development in phases, do thorough soil testing at each phase and develop safely and in compliance with the law.

As always, we will not develop alone but with government oversight. We have begun the application process for Maryland's Voluntary Cleanup Program and will comply with any laws and regulations that apply to our development.

In August, we offered to place more land than originally agreed upon into the VCP, broadening the area entered from 6 acres near the maintenance shed to nearly 40 adjacent acres. If need be, we will include more land in that program after we test each phase of the project.

It is important to reiterate that we will do all we can to responsibly develop this property in compliance with all necessary regulations, as it is both good for the community and in our family's best interest as well.

Once completed, Turf Valley -- with a Town Square, walking paths and dynamic neighborhoods nestled among the hills of western Howard County -- will be a jewel for all of us to enjoy.

Lou Mangione Mangione Family Enterprises

Renovation is not enough

The swirling arguments supporting systemic renovations of Mount Hebron High School miss a key point. The science wing, where raw sewage runs down the middle of a physics classroom floor, and a 6-inch hole in the floor of the advanced biology classroom that allowed my daughter and her classmates to look into the room below, was renovated less than five years ago.

Older institutional buildings at places such as the Johns Hopkins University and University of Maryland, College Park are renovated successfully all the time. But the Department of Education staff and its design and construction consultants have failed to follow industry-standard procedures for project administration and quality control to effect a successful capital improvement program at this school. To me, this is a dereliction of duty and a criminal squandering of taxpayer dollars.

How can we expect that another systemic renovation won't result in the same unfinished, unsafe and unworkable building -- this time for $50 million?

As a Realtor, I have buyers avoiding the Mount Hebron High School area because they perceive the proposed renovation will not meet county educational specifications. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement of school construction management, or a mandate for the Board of Education's decision.

Nellie Arrington

Ellicott City

Developers' signs litter on a stick

Regarding the recent press releases about Howard County kicking off a sign cleanup program, I would first like to applaud the county for enforcing the sign code. This county code/law basically states that any signs on public right of way not sanctioned by the county are illegal.

The one exclusion to this is the temporary developer and builder signs that are put up on weekends. Developers and builders are permitted to advertise every weekend for free all along any county routes.

Because of this exclusion, the sign code in Howard County is unconstitutional; it gives developers and builders an unfair advantage over other businesses and is looked upon as favoritism.

Wouldn't all businesses like to have free access to advertising along the public roadsides two to three days per week?

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