Property Owners' Rights

Charles County has brought the issue of rural downzoning back to the forefront once again -- this time in a form called mandatory rural cluster developments. I'd like to preface my comments on this "new" proposal by saying that, "If it looks like duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it's a duck." Let me explain what I mean.

If this "new" proposal is adopted by the county, it will make clustering mandatory for rural subdivisions, creating six or more lots from a parcel that was in existence on the date of the proposal's adoption. The minimum open space requirement is 65 percent -- meaning that all buildable lots must be clustered on no more than 35 percent of the property to be subdivided. Here's the part with an all too familiar ring to it: In cases where all lots are a minimum of 25 acres, clustering is not required, provided that a note is recorded on the plat stating that no further subdivision of such lots is permitted.

In light of the overwhelming public outcry against rural downzoning when it was first proposed little more than a year ago, I question why this issue is being revisited by the county yet again at this time. It's important that rural landowners turn out once again to voice their opposition to this proposal at the public hearing at 7 p.m. Aug. 15 in the auditorium of the Charles County Government Building in La Plata.

I am frustrated by the proposal's seeming indifference to the restrictions that would be placed on rural landowners, focusing its efforts instead on retaining any existing farm structures such as barns, outbuildings and fences. These would have to be included together with the cropland, pasture and meadows as part of the open space. The proposal requires that the open space be preserved and maintained in perpetuity, and an easement to that effect granted to the county. It seems to me that the Planning Commission is more concerned about picturesque and scenic views than it is about the rights of property owners.

David H. Shank


Help Each Other, Police

Folks, I have been sitting here listening to and watching the news, and believe me, it is a deplorable situation that we are all in. Although I was watching the London subway bombings, I visualize the same thing happening here in our country, especially in our capital city of Washington, D.C.

My main concern is our many senior citizens who have to depend on our mass transit systems. Senior citizens are not as fit as some of our younger citizens and able to cope with a subway car or station bombing. That's why I say: "Now is the time."

This is the time to really help our law enforcement people. Be observant as our sheriff and other police officials have asked. Report anything odd, suspicious or different.

Let's stick together, folks, help one another and our police forces. And maybe, with the help of God, we may just get through these trying times. Now is the time.

Lemon H. Moses Jr.