Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

June 10, 2014

Who’s ignoring whom concerning Terrapin Run?

— I am responding to Mr. (County Attorney Bill) Rudd’s comments reported in the Cumberland Times-News on May 6, “Attorney for County prepares statement on Terrapin Run” (Page 1A).

In the article, Mr. Rudd states that the Maryland Department of Planning “ignored” the county’s planning efforts by seeking to remove the Terrapin Run development (TRD) from the draft Allegany County Comprehensive Plan (DACCP).

Who’s ignoring whom? County officials seem to have ignored the will of more than 80 percent of Allegany County residents over the past eight years.

At county public meetings and in three separate survey polls, Allegany County citizens have expressed strong opposition to the TRD in eastern Allegany County. Public testimony confirms that county residents don’t want a new city the size of Frostburg built next to Green Ridge State Forest. The TRD is urban sprawl at its worst. As one voter testified, the TRD development as planned “is not smart growth, but dumb growth.”

The statement that seems most disingenuous to me is Mr. Rudd’s comment that “it is only the state of Maryland” that seeks to prohibit the type of development being planned by the developer.  Not true! The state of Maryland is on the same side as the majority of Allegany County people against the TRD.

Why county officials are also not opposed is puzzling. The community loses if our county commissioners go against the will of the people they serve. What is the purpose of public meetings if elected officials and their appointees don’t listen and respond to taxpayers concerns?

I believe you will find most people who are against TRD want economic progress for our county, but not at any cost.

The Terrapin Run development is not an economic growth project; it is an economic loser. Studies show that for every dollar of revenue housing projects like this generate, taxpayers must pay more than $1.20 to support infrastructure for new roads, schools, utilities, water systems, and sewage treatment plants.

Why divert precious tax dollars to eastern Allegany County when the county cannot even afford expenses for items such as a gym or auditorium for the new Allegany High School building?

The TRD will also negatively affect outdoor recreation at both Green Ridge State Forest and the C&O Canal National Historical Park that draw thousands of people and generate millions of dollars annually to our community.

Who wants to recreate, canoe, hike, bike, camp, and fish near or in water where the sewage of 14,000 people is discharged from the TRD?

The new development will threaten harperella, a globally endangered species. The DACCP itself states that it would be “unethical” to impose burdens on present and future generations caused by negative impacts in sensitive areas (page 8.5).

The housing development will also degrade one of the highest quality watersheds in Maryland and the Potomac River. The environment loses with the TRD.

Why then should county commissioners support the TRD and go against the will of an overwhelming number of people they serve when the TRD is not only an environmental loser, but a community and economic loser as well?

Hoping they will respond to their better angels, I request that the county commissioners remove all language related to the TRD from the DACCP until all litigation is resolved.

Champ Zumbrun

LaVale

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