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In a letter in the Dec. 12 edition of the Maryland Independent, Murray Levy challenged some of the tier map statements made in the Dec. 7 edition [“Tier law map earns county ‘rogue’ label”].

Mr. Levy is a paid lobbyist for the anti-environment organization known as the Balanced Growth Initiative. The following quotations from his letter raise some interesting issues that I think both he and BGI have neglected to address.

“Missing from the story is much of the data explaining how the map was created and why the planning commission voted to recommend it to the Charles County commissioners,” Levy wrote.

You can bet that the public would love to know these details. However, Mr. Levy and BGI aren’t about to share the sordid details of how their map was so readily embraced by their special interest Charles County planning commissioners without a public hearing or any public discussion of the details.

When pressed, Joe Richard, BGI advocate on the planning commission, did say that the staff map had too much acreage in Tier IV. I missed the part in the statute where the acreage was limited in some way.

“Also missing is any mention of the legal opinion stating that the planning commission’s recommended map complies with state law and was submitted as testimony in the public hearing held by the planning commission,” Levy wrote.

After all these years in the public eye, Mr. Levy must understand that legal opinions are similar to noses in that everyone has one and they may all be different. Much like planning commission member Richard’s comment about the acreage, such self-serving opinions will likely fail a court challenge. Mr. Levy also must know that the public is not required to take an oath regarding the truthfulness of their testimony and the First Amendment rules supreme without limits.

“They conveniently left out the fact that 105,076 acres, more than half of the land in the rural area of Charles County, has already been conserved or is zoned for conservation,” Levy wrote.

What Mr. Levy has to know but conveniently left out is that the anti-environment planning commission majority already has bullied staff into changing the zoning map for more than half of the total land mass of Charles County so that “conservation” is not included in the proposed new zoning classification for this land.

“There are many considerations that our county officials face in implementing this law. Legality is certainly one of them, but so is fairness, compassion and jobs,” Levy wrote.

I also missed the part where BGI’s biased special-interest opinions about fairness, compassion and jobs could trump state law. Let’s not forget that the four BGI agents on the planning commission have no expertise in planning, environmental issues or law.

They have refused to take advantage of presentations from experts, advice from county staff or objective input from their more knowledgeable colleagues on the planning commission. Never let it be said that mere facts could derail a majority of our planning commission from paving over the entire county in the name of short-term gain for their anti-environment land speculator cronies.

On Jan. 8, the Charles County commissioners will hold a public hearing on the BGI tier map. By their individual votes, we will be able to determine how each really feels about public participation in growth management decisions, compliance with our laws and public subsidies for BGI.

This should be interesting.

Kenneth W. Hastings Jr., Mechanicsville