Friday, May 06, 2005

08: “An open letter to Senator Punt and Representative Maitland”

An open letter to Senator Punt and Representative Maitland:

As a campaign contributor to the Republican Party, and a registered Republican in Adams County, I take serious issue with a number of events that have recently occurred in our back yard, and in Harrisburg.

There is no doubt that the Republican Party, in Adams County, and indeed, statewide, has embraced development in all its forms. Now, finally, it has become apparent that this embrace has become detrimental to the constituents you serve.

Statewide, legislation has been created to boost dollars granted to the counties for Economic Development. What happens if the need is not there? What happens if the local population does not wish such development? Apparently, the legislature in Harrisburg, and the Governor, have forgotten what “will of the people” means, and mean to force development down our throats whether we need it, or not.

Locally, Adams County officials, and some townships have gone far beyond “runaway development”. Straban Township, one of the prime townships in the state for agricultural production, has adopted a new plan to reduce open and agricultural land by almost 11,000 acres. That results in a 78% loss of all open and agricultural lands in the township. Do not the farmers who own those properties have any say in the matter? Yet Straban sneaked this by the public last Sunday with an article in the Hanover Sun, and voted to approve the plan on the next night! All done behind the chaos of the casino.

The state legislation that allows casinos contains language that allows the commission to totally ignore local ordinances governing land use. Obviously, Straban Township Supervisors would not object to anything that reduces green and open space, but what of the outcry this week by other citizens of this county? What of the loss of civil rights of the citizens of Pennsylvania to control what goes on in their own neighborhoods?

Since you both (Senator Punt and Representative Maitland) apparently had some foreknowledge of the possibility of a casino in Adams County (why else poll the voters about it last year?), why were the results of those polls not heeded? Adams County overwhelmingly rejected the idea of a casino here.

Isn’t anyone who holds elected office from or in this area listening?

Why are our legislators allowing runaway development here? It is not necessary. It is destroying the Adams County way of life. Citizens of township after township are fighting housing developers who want to put 400 or more houses in several locations in their townships. Liberty, Hamiltonban, and Mt. Joy, are dealing with developers, and Straban is actively courting anyone who can lay concrete, or asphalt.

As legislative representatives of the people of Adams County, why are you not defending the rights of your constituents? Why are you not assisting your constituents in defeating this outrage?

When you turn a deaf ear to the people, the people will turn from you. It is time to stop the arrogance of power pervading Harrisburg and Adams County. It is time to return Adams County to the people and keep it out of the hands of developer-loving politicians.

I, for one, am totally ashamed of my Republican Party for what it has, and is allowing to occur in this, one of the most sacred areas in our nation. We have been blessed with two industries here that provide for almost all the citizens of Adams County. Between the tourism generated from the National Park Battlefield (the history of the Battle of Gettysburg does not stop at the boundaries of the National Park here!), and the fruit industry in the northern part of the county, Adams County traditionally has one of the lowest rates of unemployment. We do not need development to bring jobs to this county! It is wholly unnecessary, and without any foundation in reality to say otherwise.

Throughout all of this, our elected representatives have been silent. And just as Pontius Pilate silently washed his hands of Jesus, so too will your silence condemn you as complicit.

Adams County needs more than an end to your silence, it needs a very visible political activism, and wielding of power the likes of which local politicians have never before experienced. Stop “representing” and start leading! Don’t be afraid to crush toes, or make enemies, If you lead, your constituents will follow, as long as you listen to their “will”. Maybe, just maybe, then, some of them will vote for you in the next election.

[Note: This letter was faxed to both Senator Punt and Representative Maitland, and emailed to the editors of the Gettysburg Times and the Hanover Sun on Friday, May 6, 2005. This blogger doesn't expect to see anything about it in print.]

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