Houses go up; scenic road signs come ...

Houses go up; scenic road signs come down

There are 12 comments on the Baltimore Sun story from Dec 16, 2007, titled Houses go up; scenic road signs come down. In it, Baltimore Sun reports that:

They were, officially, roads that offered some of the most beautiful views in Maryland, meandering past farms, woodlands and historic buildings.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Baltimore Sun.

frustrated

Dundalk, MD

#1 Dec 16, 2007
if we were serious about smart growth and preserving our surroundings, only two things have to happen. First, our government should leave zoning alone! No developer will buy a farm that is zoned agricultural. Believe it or not, there are people (me!) that would love to purchase a farm, but can't compete with a developer's deep pockets. And leaving a farm zoned like this also keeps estate taxes down.
The other thing we have to do is push for the enforcement of forest conservation laws. Nothiing infuriates me more than seeiing a fringe of trees left around mcmansions, representing the 10% cover a develop has to preserve. That fringe of trees is worthless, it exposes tall trees to sunlight where they were previously protected, it provides little habitat to wildlife, and actually encourages growth in deer populations who thrive in forest fringes. The developer feels good about doing his part to be "green" but is actually doing nothing more than putting a pretty face on an ugly body.
But, as long as short-term financial gaiin is more important than long-term quality of life, nothing is EVER going to change.
schlomo

Taylor, MI

#2 Dec 16, 2007
frustrated wrote:
If we were serious about smart growth and preserving our surroundings, only two things have to happen. First, our government should leave zoning alone! No developer will buy a farm that is zoned agricultural. Believe it or not, there are people (me!) that would love to purchase a farm, but can't compete with a developer's deep pockets. And leaving a farm zoned like this also keeps estate taxes down.
The other thing we have to do is push for the enforcement of forest conservation laws. Nothiing infuriates me more than seeiing a fringe of trees left around mcmansions, representing the 10% cover a develop has to preserve. That fringe of trees is worthless, it exposes tall trees to sunlight where they were previously protected, it provides little habitat to wildlife, and actually encourages growth in deer populations who thrive in forest fringes. The developer feels good about doing his part to be "green" but is actually doing nothing more than putting a pretty face on an ugly body.
But, as long as short-term financial gaiin is more important than long-term quality of life, nothing is EVER going to change.
Smart Growth is just the flavor of the month. Like any other initiative it has drawbacks too that have caused it to lose luster.
What really bothers me though is people like you who preach and subject farmers who have worked for generations scratching out a meak existence from maximizing profit from all their years of hard work when it's time to sell. Who the !*& are you or I to dictate an agenda that takes money out of the pockets of these folks. I'm sure you have an answer, but, it all boils down to thinking you're smarter than other folks and getting off on telling them what to do.
Danielle

Odenton, MD

#3 Dec 16, 2007
I just think it is said that we are losing are rural, "country" areas. I grew up in Baldwin and that area has changed so much in the past ten years, that is barely recognizable as the Baldwin that I grew up in. Being able to grow up in such a serene and peaceful environment was such a blessing and one that I am sad that I will not be able to provide for my children.
Tom In Texas

Dallas, TX

#4 Dec 16, 2007
"Barrow said that he has seen many old friends sell their farms to developers in the past few decades because of low prices for crops or steep inheritance taxes."

A couple of things to consider here. Land management for hunting and electing conservatives to lower inheritance taxes. That might just keep some of these farms, or at least the scenic views, around.
frustrated

Dundalk, MD

#5 Dec 16, 2007
My goal is certainly not to take anything away from farmers. Say you have a 50 acre farmr that has a market value of 1 million if zoned agricultural, and a market value of 2.5 million if zoned residential. For the first 50 years that your family owned it it was zoned agricultural. Your expectation at that time was that you could sell it at for 1 million.

Then the government comes along and rezones it residential, with the mistaken belief that it will increase the tax revenues for the area. Of course, study after study has shown that residential growth costs more than it brings in, so it ends up not supporting itself. Well, that farmer is definitely better off, selling it to a developer, but everyone else suffers. If the government had left the zoning at agricultural, the farmer still would have made plenty of money, just not as much, but everyone else is better off.

To take the argument one step further, suppose the government decided to change my community, that has a r4 zoning (1/4 acre lots) to r20, allowing condos to be built. Well, many people would sell, but those left behind would suffer. My whole point is that our government seems to make zoning decisions that often fly in the face of what the citizens want. Their strategy seems to be - change the zoning to whatever developers want it to be, then, if people scream about it, just "preserve" that land, using some kind of open space money. So you end up with all large tracts of land being either developed, or being preserved, but none left for someone that actually wants to farm. And that frustrates me. Doesn't mean I'm right, but that is how I feel.
Dunn

United States

#6 Dec 16, 2007
Without a doubt concentrating our impact into dense population centers should be a favored by environmentalists, smart growth folks etc... City centers could be transit oriented and with strong communities could be a better way of life. But this would have to reverese 50-60 years of thinking. Iyt would be great if there were incentives to spur urban growth. Baltimore already has the infrastructure to accomidate 3-400,000 people more. No need to rip up farm land, wetlands, and forested areas so we can drive SUVs 100 miles round trip to work everyday. It seems so obvious, however, it is counter to all America has done for decades. My soap box moment :)
pop

Abingdon, MD

#7 Dec 16, 2007
Until we get control of our population growth this is never going to stop. Developers are planning to turn every square inch of Maryland into one massive suburb. Drive through Howard County and remember how it looked just ten years ago and it will make you want to throw up. The same with Harford and Baltimore County. Don't even think of going to Montgomery County if you value old Maryland values more then you do money and the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Our birthright here, that of the land of pleasant living has been sold to the highest bidder.
kim

Abingdon, MD

#8 Dec 16, 2007
There are roads in Maryland that I haven't traveled in 15 years because I am afraid of what I am going to see. I haven't been home to Harford County because the development in the Winters run area makes me want to scream. Why have kids when the Maryland that they will grow up in is just a pale shadow of what I had. We didn't have fancy electroincs or fancy cars, but I could get on my horse and ride for hours without having to load the horses in a trailer and go to a park. Everyday that I drive to work these thoughts eat at me. It makes me want to pack my bags and leave. I probably will before to long. How do you fight against multi-million or billion dollar developers, I just don't know.
Rebecca

Harrisburg, PA

#9 Dec 16, 2007
Better public transportation and BETTER SCHOOLS are top solutions to the problem. Who wants to live in the city and have to send your kids to city schools? So the choice is either, live in the city and send your kids to private school OR use the money to buy a nice house in the suburbs with good public schools. Less people would feel the need to build new houses in the suburbs if the city was safe and worth living in. Everyone likes to complain, but no one is willing to take a look at the obtainable solutions, because that would require WORK to be done. The basic foundation for these two things already exists, so why not make them work for us?
Belouis Some

Muskegon, MI

#10 Dec 16, 2007
Money talks louder than nature.
schlomo

Taylor, MI

#11 Dec 16, 2007
frustrated wrote:
My goal is certainly not to take anything away from farmers. Say you have a 50 acre farmr that has a market value of 1 million if zoned agricultural, and a market value of 2.5 million if zoned residential. For the first 50 years that your family owned it it was zoned agricultural. Your expectation at that time was that you could sell it at for 1 million.
Then the government comes along and rezones it residential, with the mistaken belief that it will increase the tax revenues for the area. Of course, study after study has shown that residential growth costs more than it brings in, so it ends up not supporting itself. Well, that farmer is definitely better off, selling it to a developer, but everyone else suffers. If the government had left the zoning at agricultural, the farmer still would have made plenty of money, just not as much, but everyone else is better off.
To take the argument one step further, suppose the government decided to change my community, that has a r4 zoning (1/4 acre lots) to r20, allowing condos to be built. Well, many people would sell, but those left behind would suffer. My whole point is that our government seems to make zoning decisions that often fly in the face of what the citizens want. Their strategy seems to be - change the zoning to whatever developers want it to be, then, if people scream about it, just "preserve" that land, using some kind of open space money. So you end up with all large tracts of land being either developed, or being preserved, but none left for someone that actually wants to farm. And that frustrates me. Doesn't mean I'm right, but that is how I feel.
Good response! Well articulated
Carrie

Sykesville, MD

#12 Dec 16, 2007
It's all politics folks. And our state of Maryland, I would venture to say, is one the most corrupt, starting with the governor, (his special session) and the two Mikes.

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