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I read with great interest the article, “Candidates see clear choice in District 1 race” [Maryland Independent, May 30] which showed that there is an important difference in candidates when it comes to their understanding of economic development and the environmental health and vitality of Charles County.

Candidate Sam Graves continues to promote the idea of bringing back the cross-county connector, which for some reason he now dubs the “Billingsley Road extension.” Ken Robinson has long opposed the road which was permanently nixed by federal and state authorities in 2011.

Robinson points out that the permits for the cross-county connector were denied by both the state and federal government for environmental reasons. Despite receiving such a death knell, Graves continues to argue that the issue is not dead. Apparently Commissioners Reuben Collins, Debra Davis and Bobby Rucci agree with Mr. Graves as they voted to spend $1 million on a study to revisit the dead issue.

In the article, Graves argues the highway through the Everglades gives credence to why the cross-county connector should and can be built. Mr. Graves sorely needs some tutoring in history and environmental management. The building of the highway — Tamiami Trail — through the Everglades in 1928 became the epic environmental nightmare of the century, and one requiring hundreds of millions of dollars to restore the damage. If anything, the highway through the Everglades is a major reason we need to make sure such man-made environmental disasters in the name of economic development never happen again.

In contrast to Mr. Graves’ position, Ken Robinson points out that beyond the environmental catastrophe that would result from the cross-county connector, the formerly proposed highway would not reduce traffic congestion as the problem is north to south traffic rather than east to west. Robinson further points out that the cross-county connector was a hugely expensive project which would have been borne by county taxpayers alone; the sprawl produced by the road would have increased stress on local infrastructure resulting in the need for more schools and services.

To prove his point, Robinson refers to the numerous studies that show residential housing costs more in services than the taxes they produce. A recent study by the University of Illinois agrees with Mr. Robinson. It states, “Virtually all of the studies show that the COCS [Costs of Community Service] ratio is substantially above one for residential land, demonstrating that residential land is a net drain on local government budgets.”

The study reports that the ratio for the other two categories of land, rural and commercial, is consistently below one. Additionally, the study points out in the research that “the largest single expenditure category for communities is the public school system, accounting for 61.4 percent of spending.”

Thus, Mr. Graves’ argument that residential development creates economic development is mistaken and seriously flawed logic.

I fervently hope that Charles County can learn from Florida’s eight-decade mistake and the highway that was built in the Everglades.

The May 30 article truly presented contrasting views on a policy decision that would have enormous potential impact on the county and its residents. The article more than confirmed my commitment for re-electing the sound reason and good leadership of Ken Robinson for District I county commissioner June 24.



Wayne Lindstrom, Newburg