- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
I would like to say that I support the tier map designed by the county government’s planning staff to meet the tier-designation mapping required by the Sustainability Act of 2012. I think the map is quite equitable and meets the requirements of the act to protect waterways and promote smart growth without unwarrantedly burdening landowners.
I saw the map proposed by the Balanced Growth Initiative, which promotes unbalanced, unlimited growth. It purports to protect the property rights of landowners and defend the value of property. Many landowners at a recent hearing promoted the idea that their right to subdivide their property was needed to protect family farms.
It was confusing to me why the ability to subdivide their farms into major subdivisions as opposed to minor subdivisions would enhance their ability to keep their farms as farms because my friends in the banking industry tell me agricultural loans are based on an estimate of the farm’s future productivity, not the value you can get for your land if you sold it.
In addition, the farmers I worked with, rallied with and supported during the 1979 Tractorcade on Washington said the last thing they wanted to do with their farms was to sell them off in pieces to pay their debts.
I am a landowner. And although the total of all the land ever owned by my great-grandfather and his 80-plus descendants, since his emancipation from slavery, would be less than the size of one of these 100-acre farms being discussed, my one-half acre is as important to me as their farms are to them, maybe more so because they are willing to sell off chunks of their land whereas I would and could not. I would say the same holds true for most county residents.
When I grew up in Baltimore, the area along Cromwell Bridge Road was occupied by a few homes on one-acre lots surrounded by a lot of open fields, streams and woodlands. The property value of all of these homes was very high for the time. Over the years, the owners of the surrounding agricultural properties subdivided their land and sold it to developers. Now the woods are gone. The fields are gone. The owners of these properties had to watch the value of their homes go through the floor and, if they had not been forced out earlier, were now faced, in their old age, with the prospect of either selling their homes for not enough to purchase a new one or staying in their homes in what was now a high crime area.
Was this not robbing these people of their home values? When I was a young man, Oxon Hill was considered a very attractive address with high property values. Look at it now. Ditto Fort Washington. Is this what we want to turn Charles County into through unlimited development?
I fail to see why the concerns of these landowners outweighs the concerns of the majority of landowners who own many of the one-acre to two-acre lots on which their homes are located. That is why I support the Sustainability Act of 2012.
Edward Joell, Indian Head