Capital LTE: “City should not put development ahead of basic rights of local citizens”

Capital Gazette: Letters to the Editor, July 18, 2016

I am writing regarding recent stories about school overcrowding, traffic gridlock and new land development here on Annapolis Neck. As president of the Oyster Harbor Community, I am closely connected to these situations.

Currently, at Hillsmere Elementary School, two more trailers have been added to the four already used by our students. Other schools, such as Annapolis High, have eight trailers. More will be needed soon.

Our local community has seen only minimal housing growth, not enough to place a significant burden on our local elementary school. However the city annexes land from the county, readily approves developments that add many more students and refuses to act, as the county does, to block such developments until the school overcrowding is resolved.

Simultaneously, as the city freely approves these large and small developments, it exacerbates the dangerous traffic gridlock on Forest Drive. From this, the accident rate continues to increase on this single artery and everyone in over a dozen communities has experienced long delays in normal rush hour, and paralyzing traffic, when all-too-frequent accidents occur.

When someone puts developers’ and land speculators’ property rights over the rights and basic quality of life of local citizens, the inevitable failure of our infrastructures will cause the values of hundreds of homes in the area to decrease, which will lower the tax base for the county and feed a death spiral for the area as a whole.

We — as affected citizens, taxpayers, landowners and parents of schoolchildren — are being put in positions that unnecessarily endanger our driving safety, sacrifice quality of education for our children and negatively affect our overall quality of life and the future of our communities.

I ask other communities in the area to join me in stopping the city from supporting these developments.

ERIC EPSTEIN, PRESIDENT, OYSTER HARBOR CITIZENS ASSOCIATION, ANNAPOLIS

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