Letters to the editor

March 04, 2004

State figures don't add up

To the editor:

Being a landowner in Washington County, I attended the farmland compensation meeting at Hagerstown Community College on Tuesday evening. The guest speaker, Sarah Taylor Rodgers, provided some literature and slides. During her presentation, she referred to housing development as "transactions."

At no time did she use value figures or percentages. Graphs were also used to track these transactions. The graphs were irregularly spaced, which in turn had a direct impact on the line representing the cost per acre in these studies.

These irregular spacings show more volatility in basically stagnant land value by county. Of the eight Eastern Shore counties examined, only two had a significant increase in costs in the last 23 years. Why weren't counties like Frederick and Howard counties used?


Speaking in the language of transactions, let's use a model. A farmer owning 300 acres - with the present 1-1, in which one house per acre of land is permitted, would have a possible 300 transactions. If he falls in the new 1-5 ag zone, he will then have a maximum 60 transactions. In the proposed environmental zone at 1-20, he will have a maximum of 15 transactions.

Preservation zone at 1-30 would be a maximum of 10 transactions. According to the study from the meeting, the cost of transactions were the same before and after down-zoning. That figure denotes no loss of value to landowners? While it is quite possible the transactions would bear the same costs, the number of transactions are vastly different.

The number of transactions a landowner has is directly related to the equity he has acquired - much like the appreciation on the houses we live in. The loss of number of transactions - or more commonly referred to as equity - is what farmers borrow against to finance their business.

The county continues to educate its people on how down-zoning will maintain their equity with confusing studies and bogus graphs. I would like to submit an idea. How about a study on Loudoun County, Va.?

E. Andrew Stone
Stone Farms

How can marriage possibly get worse?

To the editor:

Some say that allowing same-sex marriages will be harmful to the institution of marriage. That complaint rings pathetically hollow when you consider that heterosexuals have all but destroyed marriage.

Countless numbers of heterosexual couples don't even bother to get married and of those who do, a large percentage don't stay married. You know the divorce statistics. Permanent unions are rapidly going the way of the Dodo bird. Homosexuals harm marriage? What, pray tell, is left to harm?

What puzzles me most, though, is that many of the churches that oppose homosexual marriages routinely counsel heterosexuals to divorce, encourage divorced to remarry, officiated at their weddings, welcome them into church membership and put them in the choir and on the deacon board.

Yet divorce-and-remarriage is adultery and adultery is the moral equal of homosexuality. Why is it that those churches are so exorcised over homosexuality outside of their camp and so tolerant of adultery inside of it?

Sniff, sniff. Is that hypocrisy I smell?

Lester Negley

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