In my last post I predicted that overdevelopment would be the key issue in our local elections. I further commented that due to increased active involvement in and dissatisfaction with HoCo affairs, the coming ‘revolution’ may manifest itself as neither polite, nor civil.
Given the divisive atmosphere raining down from our national political situation there is little wonder that it will spill over into our own local situation. With a steady drum beat from the media and echoed on social media, surely everyone should feel offended by, incensed by, affronted by, provoked by, wounded by, victimized by, bullied by, or incredulous about– one issue or another……Or so we are led to believe.
It should not surprise anyone that our local principle of Choose Civility may languish this year. We are already seeing evidence of such. Besieged Council members have found themselves barraged by “uncomplimentary and threatening comments.” Some communities find themselves in virtual (un) civil wars as they heatedly debate what to demand re: a new high school. Note: This issue took another hit on Friday when the Board of Ed announced that they didn’t consider EITHER the Rockburn Park site in Elkridge OR the Mission Road Quarry site in Jessup suitable for High School 13 which was to open 2 years ahead of schedule in 2022 in order to avoid redistricting. Now what???
Change and growth are a normal part of life. But unless the pace and distribution are better regulated (and more substantially funded by those profiting from the growth) we will continue down a road to destruction of all that has made Howard County great. Citizens were handed numerous defeats since the last election cycle and contrary to popular belief, those closely involved have neither forgotten nor forgiven. Outstanding examples of accepting ANYTHING to assure maximum development in HoCo include:
- Turf Valley being permitted to make the back wall of houses part of the sound barrier to Rt 70
- Downtown Columbia approved to put senior housing units on top of the Banneker Fire Station and transit center
- Approval of a large mortuary in a residential neighborhood on well and septic next to the last Tier 2 stream in the County (This battle cost local citizens well over $100,000 in legal fees and taxpayers over $1 million to mitigate the damage caused by sedimentation from the construction site)
- Approval of an 800 foot long apartment building along Rt. 29 near Maple Lawn
- Approval of even more changes to the CAC zone, allowing even more residential units at Rt 1 and 175 instead of promised commercial facilities
- Approval of a special taxing district to assure a 3rd Transit Oriented Development with 1000 units on U.S. 1 in North Laurel –where no transit station exists
- Approval of a Savage development in a Targeted Ecological Area above the steep slopes to the Little Patuxent, with conversion of federally funded parkland for use by the developer
Currently, dedicated Elkridge residents have taken on the burden of trying to locate a 45 to 50 acre site for their much needed high school, but have discovered that no such vacant non-parkland buildable parcel still exists today—except for one already in the pipeline for development. How ironic that the Council, at the request of the County Executive, just approved giving away 3 acres of county land “no longer needed” to the developer of that very parcel. Clearly NO ONE is thinking ahead to the need for school sites EXCEPT CITIZENS.
As frustration and dissatisfaction grow so will active involvement. As active involvement grows so will frustration and dissatisfaction. Left unchecked, a cyclone of emotion will sweep across the voting public.
However, disagreement doesn’t justify demeaning responses or disrespect (to or from one’s community members OR to or from one’s elected officials). But I predict that we WILL, regrettably, see much more of this as the result of growing frustration. In reviewing my own blog posts since 2015 I confess to seeing over time seemingly hopeless situations met with less gentility and a more barbed tongue. I have however attempted, not always with complete success, to not resort to unproductive personal attacks.
I encourage all those who are more actively engaged in HoCo matters, especially this election year, to resolve to embrace some words of wisdom when ready to express your frustrations and your viewpoint…..
From Eleanor Roosevelt: “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.”
And from JM Barrie (author of Peter Pan): “Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight: always try to be a little kinder than is necessary?”
Try examining your own Facebook posts as a starting point. What do you discuss??? Are you just sharing a steady diet of partisan barbs and criticisms? Or are you putting forth constructive ideas for change, words of encouragement, uplifting thoughts, acts of concern and kindness toward your fellow man? Which better serves us?
Let’s go out and work together (rather than ‘fight’) for the changes we regard as necessary to protect our HoCo quality of life—and meet me on the high road,
P.S.—I am aware that my readership has increased considerably of late and I want to encourage Actively Involved newcomers to explore some older posts by putting APFO, for example, in the search box. You can continue to scroll through many in that manner, including clicking on ‘older posts’ to see even more. If you’d like to trace a little frustration across several topics try this one from the fall of 2017 http://howcome.md/what-new-hell-is-this/ about misinformation on APFO, redistricting, industrial mulch; or from July of 2016 http://howcome.md/politicians-best-beware-of-the-double-double-ds/ on the threat of frustration. Welcome aboard new readers–and sign up to automatically receive new posts.