County Executive Elizabeth Bobo's proposed 1990 Howard County general plan slates statistical area 3-3 (in the vicinity of the county landfill off Marriottsville Road) to become part of a "greenbelt." A greenbelt is supposed to be a contiguous, interrelated open space buffer providing county residents with a broad range of passive recreation, scenic, economic and environmental benefits. However, this proposed greenbelt and the preponderance of all statistical areas in Howard County, despite public outcry, will receive staggering increases in dwelling units and jobs when compared to the currently enforced 1982 general plan. This information was not disclosed in the text of the newly proposed general plan. It took two Freedom of Information Act lawsuits to uncover this and other planning numbers the county obviously wanted hushed.
How can the citizens trust the administration and the department of planning and zoning,when a citizen has to stalk pertinent information in order to obtain it? It is apparent the composition of the greenbelt will be more "green" for the developers than for the taxpaying citizens.
It seems with the approaching elections, political doublespeak (i.e. "greenbelt") and the money chase for developer campaign contributions will be on the top of the agenda, leapfrogging down the bipartisan chain of command of those elected officials who are indebted and obliging to special interest. Elizabeth Bobo's proposed greenbelt is already flawed, speckled unacceptably with development, but Councilmen C. Vernon Gray (D) and Charles C. Feaga (R) have attacked it. These two councilmen conclude the greenbelt would create what they view as an arbitrary and illogical mid-county greenbelt of preserved open land and parkland.
The county council should ensure the creation of a true, undeveloped greenbelt at a time when the citizens of Howard County are clamoring to retain a sense of place. A true greenbelt offers a way to protect our local resources and enhance the quality of life for many generations.
For the taxpayers in Howard County, greenbelts, open space and farmland preservation -- for which the land owners would be justly compensated -- makes good economic sense. Recent studies by the Farmland Trust, Scenic Hudson Inc., and Cornell University Extension show conclusively that development, while providing revenue, requires more in services than if the land is used for open space or farmland preservation.
Come on elected officials: give the environment and the taxpayers a break!
WILLIAM HILTON Highland