Montgomery County Council member Michael Knapp's Nov. 7 letter praised the county's agricultural reserve, in which 93,000 acres were set aside in 1980 for agricultural use and open space. These are worthy intentions, but the law has had unintended consequences.

While the population has burgeoned in Montgomery's upcounty region, no independent school has opened in the area since the reserve was set up. The reserve law does not allow flexibility for private schools, contrary to Mr. Knapp's claims. By a footnote amendment, it allows room for one particular private educational institution, specified as having fewer than 75 students who possess disabilities and occupying existing buildings.

School Superintendent Jerry D. Weast said last November that private schools were losing enrollment to public schools. Perhaps that is because the fast-growing areas offer no real alternative to the public schools, which can be built wherever the county wishes.


Provost, Avalon School



As long as we are tied to an economic system that relies on growth and a constantly growing population to work properly, it makes no sense to remove land, such as the acreage in Montgomery County's agricultural reserve, from the market when it could instead be used to provide housing for new residents. The only effect is to reward land speculators and drive housing prices to ridiculous levels.

We should let the denser inner cities and the less dense suburbs expand naturally without the interference of so-called land-use planners. Better yet, we should move away from an economic system that requires population growth to function, before we exhaust all our natural resources.


College Park