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Letters to the Editor 2/22

February 22, 2001

Letters to the Editor 2/22



Smart growth's promise



To the editor:

The word "growth" once had positive connotations for all of us: better jobs and shops, better education, better quality of life. Mention the word these days and you will certainly hear complaints about congested traffic, higher taxes, and the paving-over of landscape. How did it come to pass that we have changed our outlook?

The reason is because the pattern of development has shifted. In times past, developers were generalists, building entire villages and neighborhoods. Today, most developers are specialists. Some build only houses, some only office parks, and others only shopping centers. Environmentalists worry only about open space; traffic engineers design only roads.

Planning and Zoning minutely describes the details of these processes, but nobody looks at the big picture. Individual decisions made by these specialists are quite plausible, but collectively they are dysfunctional. Consider the case of widening streets to ease traffic flow. It seems a reasonable solution, but in fact makes vehicle access more difficult and is more dangerous for pedestrians, while it increases pollution bearing storm water runoff to the Chesapeake Bay.

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The term "smart growth" refers to giving priority to development and improved services such as roads and transportation in existing communities rather than encouraging green-field development in the countryside. Maryland is at the forefront of smart growth with the enactment of the Growth Act in 1992, and subsequent measures, including Governor Glendening's 1998 executive order which establishes a Smart Growth and Neighborhood Conservation Policy. Hagerstown is to be recognized and applauded for its participation in Smart Growth. The District Court Building and the University of Maryland campus are excellent examples of this policy in action. Hagerstown's current practice of annexation of agricultural land on the outskirts of town for the purpose of developing it, however, is contrary to smart growth.

Governor Glendening, in a speech to the Maryland Association of Counties, said he will begin linking state aid to how well we limit sprawl and preserve open space. He suggested he will use his remaining two years in office to concentrate on his smart growth initiatives. Hagerstown's elected officials should heed these comments.

Do not jeopardize our region's future with the shortsighted act of approving any ill-designed specialist projects.

Our community will be better served if our local government officials start looking at the big picture.

Dirk Newhouse

Hagerstown




Remember Lent



To the editor:

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. This year Ash Wednesday falls on Feb. 28. Both Catholics and Protestants will gather in local churches to begin their celebration of Lent. Ashes in the symbol of a cross will be placed on the foreheads of Christians in all communities. The ashes are made from burned palm leaves and are blessed.

We are called to rememember that Lent is a time for fasting and for prayer. Christians are to recognize our sins and ask God's forgiveness. In our busy lives, it is very easy for us to overlook this time of the year, afterall, who wants to stop having fun and be reminded of our sins. Sin has consequences that will not go away by not thinking of them. So, let's face the truth, look at our past, come to our father in prayer and reconciliation and walk the way of the cross with Jesus, who walked the unpleasant path to bring us Salvation. Give of yourself over these next 40 days and the grace of "our risen Lord on Easter Sunday" will bring you the most incredible joy, peace and happiness ever felt. Be proud to be a Christian, wear your ashes, give more of yourself to God, pray longer, turn away from sins of the flesh and let God do all the healing and forgiving.

Tammy Needy

Hagerstown




First in war, first in peace and first in commerce, too



With another birthday commemorating the life of George Washington approaching, it is time to again remember his greatness with words of praise. Most of us are aware of Washington's accomplishments in military affairs and as a president. But he was also interested in the acquisition of land to resell at a profit and in the extension of trade between the tidewater region and the frontier. Washington's involvement in economic development has not attracted the same amount of interest on the part of those who write about his life as his more colorful frontier exploits.

Space will permit only a brief statement about two economic preoccupations of this great Virginian: Land speculation and a canal to enhance the capability of the Potomac River as a carrier of productive wealth. He had shown an interest in the Braddock Road as a means to expand commerce to the west after the expulsion of the French in their quest for dominance in North America. But this apparently took a back seat to other concerns after that conflict ended in 1763.

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