Letters to the editor 2/14

February 14, 2003

Slow growth while protecting land rights? It's easy, here's how

To the editor:

Edwin Kumsher, like Joe Lane, doesn't like my opposition to the Washington County Commissioners' decisions to revise the county's comprehensive plan, and accuses me of using "emotion" arguments as the basis for my opposition to the plan.

But Kumsher then asserts unequivocally in his letter that "growth and development is a toxic waste dump" polluting the "air we breathe" and "the water we drink." No "emotion" in that statement.

CPWC members sincerely believe your home, my home or your children's or grandchildren's future home must be stopped by any means, particularly if they are within miles of their pristine homes.

Mr. Kumsher, I challenge you to support your contentions with facts as you have challenged me.

You state with certainty that septic systems "will effect your well water." The Health Department for over 20 years is required to evaluate soil types; adequate soil depths; water table levels; rock profiles; sink hole locations, and enforce stringent isolation distance criteria to assure septic system effluent is fully renovated before it reaches the ground water table or nearby wells.


Your assertion would require that health department staff ignore these health and safety regulations. I am sure William Christoffel, health officer of the Washington County Health Department can confirm your assertions.

Now, in response to your demand of me for a detailed plan to control "major residential development in rural areas" absent "massive down-zoning," that's easy. A simple "minor subdivision ordinance" with a 5 percent, five-year development rule would effectively control rural development without stealing constitutionally protected "development rights" of property owners, as our commissioners have done. That's fact, not emotion.

One example: Formerly a 200-acre farm in Washington County enjoyed development rights in an agriculture district to develop one-acre lots. That was changed to five-acre lots. "Development rights" were reduced on this 200-acre farm by a factor of five from 200 lots to 40 lots - an immense loss in "development right" property value that is quantifiable, not theoretical.

My ordinance would allow 10 one-acre lots, "off conveyance" once every five years unless water and sewer infrastructure is in place. That would require 100 years to fully develop said 200-acre farm, while allowing modest growth to be spread uniformly across the country.

My plan would protect "development rights" of property owners - not steal them. Farming would continue unabated, the rural character of the county would be maintained and our children and grandchildren could still choose to own a country home.

Citizens, any rational evaluation of this county's land development patterns will confirm that modest development spread over the entire county will maintain adequate open space and is easily supported by the county's abundant groundwater resources.

CPWC's vision to pile people higher and deeper in densely populated enclaves will result in ever increasing water, sewer and road infrastructure costs and in the traffic congestion and crime they wish to avoid.

Harold "Hal" Phillips

Clear Spring

Volunteers did a great job

To the editor:

I would like to express sincere thanks to all who participated in the Toys for Tots program. To each individual who gave toys at the drop-off stores, to businesses, clubs, organizations and for monies donated.

A special thanks to Debra and Phil Hunt for the use of the empty store at Long Meadow. Also a big thank you to the volunteers who helped give out the toys.

Philip Stotelmyer


Toys for Tots

Marine Corps League


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