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Letters to the editor

February 08, 2004

Task force won't help disaster of development


To the editor:

I am quite disappointed that the Washington County Commissioners chose to start a task force to study the new zoning ordinance. Also, the planning commission members didn't want it.

These people are not voted in nor paid by the county residents. Thomas Firey is not even a resident of Washington County.

Worse yet, the members of the task force appear to me to be heavily weighted toward the CPR and building industry.

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A task force or committee is used to prevent management from making the tough decisions. If everything turns out well, management says "I did it." If not, "they did it." There will be no "they did it." I will hold the County Commissioners responsible for any and all changes, good or bad, made to the new zoning ordinance. Most, if not all, of the task force members had their say at one or more of the public meetings.

The County Commissioners should disband this task force. If they insist on having one, it should at least have close to half the members be people who are interested in preserving the lifestyles of the current residents and preserving the environment on which we all depend on for our lives.

Why not slow down or stop development until we fix the problems we have now? All seems to be made worse by increased development. Schools are old and do not meet current code standards. Do we know what to do about it? Probably. Do we have the money? No.

More schools will be needed as more houses are built. Will the developments pay for them? I seriously doubt it. Air pollution is worse than federal standards allow. Do we know what to do about it? No. If we did, would we have the money? No.

Almost half of our ground water is polluted. Do we know what to do about it? Maybe. Do we have the money? No. Residents complain about the heavy traffic and deteriorating roads.

Do we have a countywide plan to prevent grid lock traffic? No. If we did, do we have the money to implement the plan? No. Do we have money to fix the roads we have? No. Crime is up. Do we know what to do about it. Probably, but do we have the money? No.

Fire and rescue services are being pushed to the limit. Do we have the money for more staff and/or equipment? No.

Why don't we just continue toward total disaster with more developments? With all the development we have had the problems only got worse, not better.

Edwin Kumsher
Rohrersville




Tax? No; corporate giveaway? Yes


To the editor:

The Washington County Commissioners aren't asking the right questions about the proposed cable franchise study (Herald-Mail, Jan. 28). The real question is: "Why is Antietam Cable charging between $1.386 million and $2.31 million per year for the service?"

A $20,000 study is insignificant compared to the millions of dollars that the commissioners are willing to pour into Antietam's corporate pockets. Why would the commissioners consider a plan that, even if there were 100 locations throughout the county and would cost between $13,860 and $23,100 per location per year? And this isn't a one time cost; on a five year contract Antietam would realize between $6.93 million and $11.55 million dollars. Since Antietam charges $599.88 per year for an individual cable Internet connection, what justification is there for the additional $13,000 to $22,500 per year it wants to charge for servicing county government?

Antietam Cable doubtless will argue that the cost of providing the infrastructure justifies the cost. But allowing a generous $1,000 per location for modems, routers, and cabling still leaves Antietam with a gross revenue of $12,000 to $21,500 per site per year. Even if it's $5,000 per site, readers can do the math and see what sort of a give-away program the commissioners are considering. And, remember that the $5,000 is a one-time equipment expense; in the second year the total revenue goes directly to Antietam Cable.

Commissioners Wivell ("a spineless way to raise taxes..") and Munson ("...hidden tax..") have it completely wrong. A tax is levied by a governmental unit, not a private corporation. A tax rate is determined by a governmental unit, not a private corporation. A tax revenue flows to a governmental unit, not to a private corporation.

This is not a tax. It's a multi-million dollar gift to Antietam Cable.

Let's hope the County Commissioners stop hiding behind "taxes" and "studies" and start asking the right questions.

John Colson
Hagerstown




Prison safety can't take a back seat to good intentions


To the editor:

I recently read two well-written articles concerning the RESTART project and its effects at the local State of Maryland prison complex. Elaine Gladhill, correctional officer, and Tim Rowland, Herald-Mail columnist, are right on point with their words. Rowland describes the job of a corrections officer as "thankless, dangerous, demanding and impossible to fathom if you haven't done it." This statement is the best concise description of the job I have ever read.

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