Letters to the editor

June 03, 2006

Making the best of tragic situation

To the editor:

The family of Nick Cianelli would like to send their deepest appreciation to Somerford Place. The people of Somerford Place were amazing in their treatment of Nick Cianelli in the last years of his life. When a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, it is devastating, not only to the individual but to their family as well. Trying to find a suitable place for a loved one who has any type of dementia is a difficult process. Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would find a place as extraordinary as Somerford.

Prior to Nick having Alzheimer's, he was an active man within our family as well as the community. Nick touched many people's lives over the years, ranging from coaching Little League to volunteering with Halfway Fire Company. But he was always first and foremost a family man; he had the uncanny ability to make anyone feel welcome in his home and with his family.


As his Alzheimer's worsened, it was very difficult for him to be the man he once was. As his family, we tried to make the best of the situation and kept him as active as could be. But eventually it was not enough, and he had to move to Somerford Place.

As the disease progressed, he knew very little of his life and his family. Consequently, it was extremely difficult for us to visit him because we only saw this shell of a man existing day to day. Finally, after living with Alzheimer's for more than seven years, Nick passed away on May 3, at the age of 92. It is what our family learned in those last days of Nick's life that have led to this letter to the editor.

Since the people of Somerford Place did not know Nick before coming to live there, they were able to accept him for who he was at that moment in his life. It was much more difficult for his family and friends to do this. Where, we, as his family, saw a shadow of the man we knew and loved, the people of Somerford Place saw a different soul. In his last days, we heard many wonderful stories about Nick and how he touched their lives at Somerford Place. How he made them smile and laugh by making certain sounds or when music was playing how he would grab their hand and start dancing with them (Nick always loved to dance).

We would watch them come into his room during his last days and pat him on his bald head and kiss him there and tell him they loved him and would miss him. We used to do those same gestures all his life, so it was nice to see that Nick had made these people a part of his family, too. It really made his family see that Nick was loved and admired, even in those last years of his life. It showed us that even in life's darkest moments, there still shines a soul to be loved and cherished. Thank you to all the people of Somerford Place who made the last years of Nick Cianelli's life as meaningful as the rest of his life had been. We are eternally grateful.

bJerry Cianelli


Are you damaged by downzoning?

To the editor:

On July 12 and July 26 of 2005 the Washington County Commissioners voted to downzone 250,000 acres of Washington County, affecting about 20,000 parcels. The adoption of the zoning amendment was by 3-2 vote. Commissioners Greg Snook, James Kercheval and Doris Nipps voted for adoption, Commissioners William Wivell and John Munson voted against it. Downzoning has a huge impact on the retirement assets of county landowners.

For example, before downzoning an owner living on a 50-acre farm zoned agriculture could have sold 40 to 50 building lots. After rezoning to preservation, he could sell no more than four lots. The rest of the property would remain farmland. It is irrational to believe there is no loss of equity due to the downzoning. In essence, scenic beauty is being preserved at the expense of many seniors hoping to retire on the proceeds of selling their property.

Maryland law gives the commissioners authority to rezone property, but the commissioners also have the responsibility to pass the rezoning ordinance according to Maryland law. I brought legal action against the county because I did not feel that they followed the rules.

In my suit, I alleged the county did not give proper notice of the rezoning hearing, that they made substantial changes in the Rural Rezoning Amendments after the public hearing and before passage, and that there were some illegal actions taken during adoption.

I asked the court to order the commissioners have a new hearing and to do it right. The full text of my legal complaint can be found on the Web site

On April 4, the Circuit Court dismissed my request for judicial review and my amended complaint for declaratory relief.

The dismissal was based on procedural errors I made in filing the suit. No ruling was made on whether the commissioners followed proper procedure in adopting the Rural Rezoning Amendments. That issue is still open. Unfortunately, I can take no further action on this matter, but others can.

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