Letters to the editor

January 23, 1998

Plan against future sprawl

To the editor:

When I read the Daily Mail of Aug. 28, 1997, I had a strong, foreboding sense of deja vu. The article was on the plans for the possible filming of Gods and Generals and all of the consequential development proposals to be spawned from it. My heart sank when I read it. Visions of Orange County, Florida, circa 1970, came to mind.

The hub of the county was the beautiful laid-back city of Orlando, surrounded by small bucolic towns, orange groves, and tall pine forests. It was a very rural, agriculturally-based atmosphere.

Then Disney World moved in, and now the "orange" in Orange County is more reflective of the neon lights of the strip malls than of the citrus fruit from which the county got its name. Orange groves, as well as bucolic towns, are practically non-existent.


During the decade of the 70's, we lived in one of those bucolic towns in western Orange County, and I commuted to work with a 50-minute drive on a two-lane road through fragrant orange groves and peaceful pine woods. Now that same route takes me through walled housing developments on three- and four-lane roads, past glitzy outlet malls, hotels, and tourist attractions. The area is seething with people, traffic and activity. We left the area in 1981 with our hearts in mourning for the environment and what was happening to it.

And thus, my sense of deja vu when I read about plans for "Hollywood" to come to Washington County and the plans for the tourist attraction and movie industry development that will follow. I find it highly ironic that the rural landscape was one of the requirements which attracted the film makers to this area. If all of the development plans move forward as outlined in the Aug. 28, paper, our rural landscape and atmosphere is in danger of disappearing.

To whomever the powers be who are involved, if development does move forward toward the plans outlined in the Aug. 28 paper, please consider the following:

1. Outlaw neon! Be sure that all signs and advertisements are tasteful, unobstructive and unobtrusive.

2. Be sure there are adequate rural parts of the county that stay rural, free of development. Select the areas carefully that will be allowed to be developed.

3. Be sure the towns which want to stay small and historic can do so.

4. Be sure that all incoming development pays for its impact on infrastructure.

The Beltway spread, which has begun to spill over South Mountain, is already stressing our schools. Many of our facilities are cramped and teachers are teaching under stressful conditions. With growth from the anticipated commercial developments on top of the Beltway sprawl, where will the money come from to build and staff new schools, new utility systems, new roads, et cetera?

All of these issues, and more, need to be carefully thought out before it is too late. Let's get some professional help to do it. Let's study other areas which have undergone similar developments to learn from their successes and failures. Otherwise, we stand to lose the very character which attracted the movie industry in the first place.

Peggy Reiff Miller


People are not a fuel

To the editor:

Because of the unfortunate influence of political correctness in so many areas today, it is really depressing to see referrals in The Herald-Mail and elsewhere, to "human resources" - "Department of Human Resources,", etc., instead of the correct and completely applicable term of personnel.

This latter term at least implies people, whereas the term human resources in effect lumps together people who have hearts, minds and souls, with other resources, such as coal, wood, zinc, oil, and plutonium.

This is just another subtle attempt to dehumanize real people, and to make everything and everybody equal, which, of course, they are not.

Henry A. Kittredge

Mercersburg, Pa.

Tax laws defy fairness

To the editor:

We read the article concerning the county's generosity in "giving back" about $800,000 in county taxes for duplicate services to the City of Hagerstown. Well, whoop-de-do.

There is actually about $13 million spent by the county for services that the city also provides to its residents. This should provide the city residents with a reduction in county taxes of about $3.5 million or about .67 cents of the $1.70 city tax rate. As it is, this payment by the county to the city is actually a 15-cent hidden city tax.

We own property and pay taxes in two other jurisdictions as well as in Hagerstown. In Virginia we pay $2,783 on a commercial property's best-guess value, about the same as our Hagerstown home, for which we pay $3,294. We own a house in Washington, D.C., which we rent to others and pay taxes of $4,334, but because rental property is taxed at a higher rate there, we would pay $2,616 if we lived in the house.

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