Friday, March 12, 2010

Warped Thinking

The Carroll family may be the oldest residents of Howard County. They were here before the county even existed. They built their home, Doughoregan Manor, in Ellicott City back in 1727 when Maryland was still a colony of Great Britain. Almost three hundred years later the estate is still owned by the same family. While development occurred at a breakneck pace all around them they preserved their farm.

And how do we acknowledge almost three centuries of their stewardship of the land?

We threaten to take away their property by an act of Congress.

On a recent posting on the Howard County Citizens Association listserv, Allen Dyer, a member of the Howard County School Board, wrote that “in light of its historic value, the "private property" aspect of Doughoregan is a sham issue.”

He went on to say “howard county local politics is much too small a forum for planning the destruction (or preservation) of Doughoregan manor.”

Picking up on this thread, C. Edward Walter, a resident of Woodstock, wrote that there should be “an act of Congress to preserve the site.”

He has even written to Congressman Elijah Cummings to enlist his support for this.

Who do these people think they are?

I’ll give a pass to Mr. Walter since he is a private citizen and entitled to his opinion but Allen Dyer is an elected official and therefore his words tend to carry a little more weight.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. He’s got to go.


Freemarket said...

I completely agree. I only hope that Dyer can one day see the irony in his statement.

HoCoRising said...

Scary stuff right there. "We don't like what you're going to do with it, so let's take it away."

Anonymous said...

We live in a Brave New World....these people are just scary.

JustTheFacts said...

Either through misinformation or malicious intent, you're not presenting an accurate account of the posts on the HCCA listserve.

The discussion centers around whether the county government should bestow a windfall profit to the Carrolls in the form of a General Plan Amendment (CB-9, that will extend public water/sewer to their rural zoned property). Based on the proposed GPA, the Carrolls and their development partners (Don Reuwer/Joe Rutter) have applied to rezone the property to a higher density.

Part of the rationale being presented in support of their request is that the property has signficant national historic value as one of the only full plantation parcels dating back to the signing of the Declaration of Independance (hence the interest of historians).

Residents from numerous communities surrounding the 892 acre property are concerned about the road, school and environmental impacts (including an on site sewage treatment plant) as well as the cost to taxpayers for the water/sewer facilities (feeding an undersized county treatment facililty).

Alan and Ed's comments were directed at the issue of national historic significance. They suggested that a treasure such as this should be supported by the state or federal government as opposed to county residents being asked to bear the cost and inconvenience of rezoning for excessive development in the name of "Saving Doughoregan".

Nobody was suggesting that the government take the land from the family.

WB, I believe that you, Freemarket and HoCo Rising owe them an apology.

Anonymous said...

Why do members of HCCA seem to think that everytime a property owner goes through a process that might be beneficial, the Government should not allow it?

In fact, as anon 4:51 suggests, you shouldn't even ask them to present a logical argument that can be questioned.

I see why no one in government ever listens to HCCA anymore.

HoCoRising said...

Being asked for an apology, I would rather just respond. Eminent domain is an extreme power of our state government, and I don't think it should be suggested lightly. To break it all down to "JustTheFacts" what is the difference between "preservation" and "confiscation" besides a turn of phrase?

Freemarket said...

JTF- you can make an argument that there is cause for federal gov't intervention (with federal subsidy or whatever) in this issue if you'd like. Maybe your argument would even be compelling to some. But no one should ever refer to the Carroll's private property rights a "sham issue". That lack of respect for this family and their property is what I am objecting to.

Anonymous said...

While I'm no fan of HCCA, really, commenters. It's a free country.

And regarding eminent domain, either we all are at risk or none of us is at risk. In fact, our elected officials routinely use this method with "less important" citizens, so get a grip on the Carroll-worship.

Man, you all profess to be Catholic or whatever and have no idea, no inkling what it really means to treat everyone as if their life was worthy of dignity.

You completely sadden.

PZGURU said...

Not that WB's would care two bits if I ever agreed with him, but on this topic, I do.
The Carroll Family already has the rights to develop the land under the current zoning designation. In fact, their proposed rezoning would be for FEWER dwellings than they are currently allowed. And, they'd be preserving the manor house too. So, if Alan Dyer's main concern is preservation of the historic manor house, it would seem the Carroll Family has done that.
Eminent domanin has been very abused by governments, most notably in the Kelo v. New London case. In fact, the APA's support of New London's abusive use of eminant domain is why I will never join that group. Outrageous.

Anonymous said...

I was against this development before I learned that the family already had the right to build houses - even more houses than this new plan will allow. The difference is that the county will be providing water and sewer in exchange for fewer homes and preservation of the manor. So, what's in it for the taxpayers? What are we saving in service costs by reducing the number of homes?

Anonymous said...

There's got to be more that isn't being disclosed. They may have the right to build, but they don't have the septic or water in place to support a final planning OK.

What's the real deal here?

Anonymous said...

The Carrols could get a maximum of 409 houses if development were done by right. Their "comprehensive plan" is for them to get 325 houses on the eastern quarter of the Plantation plus have the County pay $20 million for the development rights to another 250 houses through 500 acres of agricultural preservation easements. Last time I checked 575 was more than 409. The Carrolls aren't losing any money on this sweetheart deal, very much the opposite.

Anonymous said...

The Carrolls would have to put on-site sewage treatment on the property. And this would be a type of plant never done before in Howard County, since it would treat existing sewage already in the sewer line and would return it to the sewer line before it went on itsw merry way to the Little Patuxent Plant. Ask the folks at Cattail Creek how much they've enjoyed their sewage treatment plant. And it is one-tenth the volume of the plant proposed for Doughoregan. Does that mean we'll get ten times more impacts?

PZGURU said...

It's good point about percs. Would the Carrolls get 409 approvable percs if they did perc tests all over the property? Not sure. And why waste their money by asking/requiring them to do so.

Cattail - what a mess. These "on-site" shared septic systems are disasters. I think the County or the State may have banned them a few years back as a consequence of all the problems at Cattail. If so, then whatever on-site treatment facility would have been required for the Carroll property (if it were to stay RR zoned) would be much different.

The main reason it seems like an ok proposal to me is that instead of having 409 houses spread out over the entire Carroll property, the 325 houses would be clustered in one/several pockets, and thus a large chunk would remain open space. I don't see how people can think the Carrolls are bing unreasonable in their proposal.

Anonymous said...

We don't want a sewage treatment facility in Ellicott City!

It's not rocket science.

Anonymous said...

The last sewage treatment facility in Cattail is still causing problems, so don't even try to tell anyone that this will be any different.

History tells us what the county and developers are capable of. Those people in Cattail continue to live with stence and permanently lost housing values.

THEY CANT EVEN SELL for what their property should fetch to get out from under what the county has done. And people think it's unreasonable to contest that happening again?

come freakin on.

PZGURU said...

If you're referring to my sentence about the two systems being different, I was purely speaking from a design persepctive.

As to performance and functionality, I don't like shared septic systems.

But, to the ANON's (the last two anyway), if the public water and sewer service gets extended, that will eliminate the possiblity of a shared septic system, right? Or, are you saying that a pretreatment facility would be required on-site, even if the development is serviced with public water and sewer? Can someone answer that?

I would think that if the LPWW Treatment Plant is maxed out, then wouldn't this development get held up during APFO review for having insufficient sewer capacity to support the new houses? Not sure of the answer to this one either.

Anonymous said...

The sewage pre treatment plant would remove nitrogen from the human waste and reinsert it into the county system.

Anonymous said...

PZ you are more on the ball than that last statement.

Sure the LPWW is maxed out, but development is flying through at record paces. They don't care. Please get that. The people we elected do not care that sewage is being dumped into the patuxent river.

After everything else they've done, this should be an easy one to see.

PZGURU said...

ANON 6:37 - I don't doubt that officials often ignore the rules. I honestly am not familiar with the LPWW facility or the exact Health Department requirements for pre-treatment facilities or shared septic facilities. That's why asked. I get accused of jumping the gun and making wild accusations by WB, so I was trying to gather more info before sounding off.

For the record, if the project involves any type of on-site pre-treatment facility, that would concern me greatly as I also don't want to see the local rivers run yellow and brown.