Charity Cases

Regarding "Pantry Battles a Surge in Need" (Loudoun Extra, Aug. 22): It appears that members of the Loudoun County Department of Social Services do not read the Loudoun Extra. According to Social Services, households need to earn almost $200,000 a year to own a single-family house in Loudoun and $117,000 to own a townhouse and $46,000 or $22.06 an hour to rent a two-bedroom apartment.

Farther back in the same Extra, there are lists of Loudoun's recent home sales. I counted more than 20 homes selling for under $200,000 (a few under $100,000) and well over two dozen under $300,000. There are many homes that have sold in the $300,000 to $500,000 range -- all of which do not require an income approaching $200,000.

Furthermore, a two-bedroom apartment can easily accommodate two people making $12 an hour or three people, who at $8 an hour could afford the rent.

In addition, I question the good sense of the individual driving a new SUV who needs to supplement his food supply by receiving charity from Leesburg Interfaith Relief Inc. How does he pay for gas for that guzzler? Wouldn't it be more appropriate to sell the SUV and get an economical small used car until he is back on his feet again?

It seems that the Department of Social Services and your reporter have not really analyzed the data available to them.

Paula Glick

Ashburn

Bypassing the Facts

In his letter castigating Hillsboro's citizens for having "brought the [Route 9 congestion] situation on themselves" ["A Missed Opportunity," Loudoun Extra, Aug. 22], Andrew F. Pitas incorrectly characterizes the response of the town to the Virginia Department of Transportation proposal for Route 9 improvements several years ago.

The VDOT "study" -- which officials later admitted was based on a mere "windshield" survey of the area -- proposed three absurd alternatives: (1.) widen the highway, destroying most of the town's historic homes; (2.) construct a bypass behind the homes on the north side of the current highway, jeopardizing the town's fragile spring-fed water supply; or (3.) construct a bypass behind the homes on the south side, on or over Catoctin Creek. All three proposals posed serious environmental or preservation threats.

VDOT's proposals did not bypass Hillsboro; rather, each alternative presented a different approach for Hillsboro's destruction.

Pitas may be confusing the citizens of Hillsboro with a broader-based citizen group called the Route 9 Coalition that included many landowners outside Hillsboro. Competing NIMBY concerns prevented that group from ever reaching consensus on a bypass location. As a 25-year veteran of the Hillsboro Town Council (1977-2002) and a member of the current Planning Commission, I recall no time when Hillsboro's concerned residents "rose up against" a genuine bypass around Hillsboro.

Mayor Roger Vance's call for a study to divert traffic to Route 340 is the most economical and practical solution today.

Randall C. Allen

Hillsboro