Letters to the Editor

Volume VI Number 29
July 23-29, 1998

Must A.A. County Grow - Postscript

Dear New Bay Times~Weekly:

New Bay Times was kind enough to publish my four articles entitled "Must AA County Grow?" in the Commentary section of recent issues. I thought that all the ground had been covered until a recent meeting with our Anne Arundel County administration, during which it became clear to me that they are reluctant to down-zone residential property.

Down-zone, by the way, means to move an undeveloped parcel from a high-density zone to a lower density one. It would be down-zoning to rezone a several-acre parcel from, say, R-2 (two houses per acre) to R-1 (one house per acre).

The reason is interesting. Although the word was never mentioned, the fear is that the parcel owner will be able to sue the county successfully on the charge that such a rezoning is tantamount to a constitutional taking. It's true that the owner might sue; what's debatable is the presumption of success.

History indicates that cities and counties, including Anne Arundel, have down-zoned over the years with no trouble - provided those actions were done judiciously. The action must not be capricious, it must not render the property useless or near-useless and it must clearly be for the safety, health or welfare of the citizens of that jurisdiction. History goes further than that; recall that long ago there were no zoning regulations in place here at all, yet now every county lot is in one or another zoning category.

True, some old parcels, platted as subdivisions, have been grandfathered, appropriately in some cases, inappropriately in others. But then many have been forced to conform to later legislation such as the antiquated-lot law and the Critical Area laws. Zoning regulations have been successfully updated from time to time, and usually the newer ones are stricter.

Judicious down-zoning, especially of large parcels and of large old subdivision plats, is an important and reasonable tool needed in any program for managing residential growth and development in Anne Arundel County.

The forthcoming "comprehensive rezoning" planned by our county means changing the zoning of some parcels here and there. Surely this may include some down-zoning here and there.

-Bill Papian, Shady Side


Editor's Note: Papian is president of the Shady Side Peninsula Assocation Inc.

Touching, Not Touchy-Feely

Dear New Bay Times~Weekly:

This letter is in response to your article "Annapolis Mayor Signs Inner Peace Treaty" [July 2-8] about the Inner Peace March held in Annapolis on June 21 and sponsored by the Annapolis Healing Arts Alliance.

We appreciated the front-page heading about the event and the article. As an all volunteer non-profit alliance of professionals, we sponsor public awareness events focusing on the healing arts resources in our community. The event specifically focused on each individual as a healing resource through its theme that "peace begins within each of us as a seed thought."

The article did not, however, carry that theme in its opening condescending description of our organization of physicians, nurses, teachers, counselors, churches, health organizations and individual practitioners as the "who's who of touchy-feely types." True, many do actually physically touch their clients in the course of their work, and the counselors and ministers certainly touch many hearts.

We would ask in the future that you look at your own responsibility in choosing words that enhance rather than harm the hard work of those who seek to improve the quality of our lives and the community.

-Alice Yeager, President, Annapolis Healing Arts Alliance

Department of Corrections

Del. George Owings is majority whip of the Maryland House of Delegates. His title was misstated in last week's Dock of the Bay.

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