Hold Judges Accountable For Their Light Sentences
Each week, I read the Coast Dispatch from front to back. The news keeps me updated on events at my home away from home and provides a valuable service. While I enjoy the news regarding local events, I can’t help but being fixated and frustrated on a weekly basis when I get to the “Cops And Courts” portion of the paper.
In practically every issue there is a list of people who chose to do incredibly stupid and dangerous acts. The hard-working men and women in law enforcement do their job and apprehend the offenders. Yet when it gets to the judicial phase, a mere slap on the wrist is handed down. The sentences are certainly not a deterrent to crime. In fact, I would say the light sentences may even invite criminals to Delmarva for the lack of any real consequences for bad behavior.
Let’s use the Jan. 31 issue as an example. A 25-year-old man is arrested for assaulting his girlfriend and while dealing with the assault allegations, police discover a handgun in his possession which is loaded with a round in the chamber. Bad things would happen to him, right? Nope. One-year probation is it.
Next up there is the woman who was pulled over for driving with a broken windshield. As the Officer investigated this case, he determines that the smell of marijuana is coming from the car. The driver refuses to exit the car as instructed and she forcibly pushes the officer away. The background check on her reveals a suspended license which she has been cited for four times in the past year. Big troubles would come her way, right? Nope. Probation for a year.
Lastly, there is the women employed as a caregiver who was hired to tend to a terminally ill woman. As they were dealing with the loss of their loved one, family members discovered that the caregiver had helped herself to the patient’s credit card. Instead of doing her job of taking care of the patient, she felt it more important to go shopping for beauty products and spa treatments, all on the victim’s credit card. Surely, this major crime would be handled in a serious manner. Nope. A sentence of 120 days, of which the judge suspended 90 days. So, 30 days for stealing from the helpless and dying. This turns my stomach. Whomever said crime doesn’t pay, has not experienced the criminal justice system around here.
I would like to see the Coast Dispatch start printing the names of the judges who hand down sentences to criminals, along with their contact numbers. Readers like myself who get disenchanted with the nonstop wrist slaps of criminals could call the judge and ask for an explanation. It is time we get serious about dealing with criminals.
Crofton and Ocean City
Wind Turbines Should Be 33 Miles From Shore
(The following letter was addressed to Maryland Public Service Commission Executive Secretary Andrew Johnston.)
This communication is in reference to the following cases: 9628: US Wind Maryland Lease Area Project and 9629: Skipjack Delaware Lease Area Project.
On behalf of the over 1,000 members of the Coastal Association of REALTORS®, I submit this letter in support of the Town of Ocean City’s request for reconsideration of the approved distance between the municipality and the Skipjack and U.S. Wind offshore wind farms, as well as the newly proposed size of the turbines, making them the tallest structures in the State of Maryland. We request that these turbines be moved at least 33 miles off the shore, so they may not be viewed from the beach, thus resulting in minimal to no impact to Ocean City’s viewshed. At stake is the real estate industry in Ocean City, which saw over $505.5 million in residential and commercial transactions last year, and is an integral cog in the economic engine of the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland.
Our association and members are wholly supportive of renewable clean energy projects; however, it has been proven in a number of recent studies that wind farms can negatively impact surrounding property values, as well as tourism activity. For example, a 2017 study conducted by North Carolina State University showed that 55 percent of existing customers of three North Carolina rental agencies would change their vacation destination if visible wind turbines were placed offshore (Lutzeyer, Phaneuf, & Taylor, 2017). These customers were provided with visualizations of wind farms of varying size and proximity to the shore. According to the results of the study, the negative effects of the wind farms are primarily attributable to the proximity of the farm to the shore, rather than the number of turbines.
Another study conducted by Clarkson University in 2011 used data on over 11,000 property transactions conducted over nine years near new wind facilities in northern New York (Heintzelman & Tuttle, 2011). The study found that the nearby wind facilities significantly reduced property values, and the scope of the reduction was based primarily on the proximity of the property to the facilities.
Another study conducted by Appraisal Group One in 2010 regarding real estate sales near the Blue Sky Green Field Wind Farm and the Forward Wind Farm, both in Wisconsin, showed reduced values ranging anywhere from 12 percent to 40 percent, depending on the property’s proximity to the wind farms (Kielisch, 2011).
All of these studies have one glaring thing in common: the closer a piece of property is to a wind facility, the lower its value. Are there studies out there which state that wind facilities have no impact on property values? Yes; however as proven in a 2018 study conducted by the University of Wisconsin, the impact of a wind farm on surrounding properties may be heavily dependent on the willingness of the local municipality to host the wind farm (Vyn, 2018).
Ocean City has stated numerous times that the town is supportive of offshore wind energy as being a viable source of clean energy; but town officials, residents, and visitors clearly are not willing to sacrifice Ocean City’s natural Atlantic view. The Coastal Association of REALTORS® and the local real estate industry are fully supportive of the town’s position and we reiterate their legitimate and relevant concern that these turbines will forever change one of Ocean City’s most valuable assets – its viewshed.
Thank you for your consideration.
(The writer is the president of the Coastal Association of REALTORS®.)
Happy Trees Are Gone
Good things came to me, even though it wasn’t meant for me.
I personally want to thank everyone who had a voice or any other input to clear the woods behind the new library that made clearance visible from where I live Austin Circle to Main Street.
I had voiced my opinion with a couple of articles that was printed in the newspaper about 12 or 13 years ago. I was concerned about my house and my safety if any those tall trees had fallen my way. My bedroom with my bathroom could have been damaged with me inside.
I thank God the wait is over and the results are so beautiful and no one lost their life in the process. From the bottom of my heart, I truly appreciate the outcome behind my house.
Now it is more like living in the city limit than in the country surrounded by a forest. I watched as the process of taking the trees down played out. My heart was so happy. I am just as happy as if the trees were taken down 12 or 13 years ago as I wanted at that time.
The wait was worth it all. God has taught to wait in life and the wait sometimes will be in my favor. What was done wasn’t done for me per say, but that’s what I wanted all the time before the library went up. Love you all Worcester County people.
Pat Purnell Hingleton
Support For Eviction Bill
(The following letter was addressed Delegate Kumar P. Barve.)
On behalf of the 1,000 members of the Coastal Association of REALTORS®, the leading real estate trade association on the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland, I write in support of HB0227/SB0176, Wicomico County – Landlord and Tenant – Repossession for Failure to Pay Rent – Procedures. The proposed legislation not only provides for more efficient eviction procedures for our members who operate rentals in Wicomico County, it also provides increased protections for consumers, reduces blight in our neighborhoods, and frees up local law enforcement so they may tend to our communities and residents.
Existing state law requires a landlord to remove a tenant’s belongings on the day of the eviction. Those belongings are placed outside for two days, during which time they are a blight to the neighborhood, they are pilfered by passersby, and they are vulnerable to the elements. After two days, all items are removed by the landlord and are transported to a landfill, donated, or disposed of by some other legal means. During the eviction, the presence of a Wicomico County Sheriff’s Deputy is required to ensure removal of all belongings from the property occurs without incident. In some cases, this process can take several hours.
The proposed legislation provides the tenant with 14 days’ notice prior to the eviction that they must remove their belongings from the property. If their belongings are still in the rental on the day of eviction, the landlord and Sheriff’s Deputy simply change the locks on the residence and all items therein become property of the landlord.
For landlords, this legislation makes the eviction process more efficient. For renters, this legislation allows for sufficient notice to remove their belongings from the property. For the local Sheriff, this legislation frees up valuable law enforcement resources and time.
Thank you for your time and consideration of this letter.
(The writer is the president of the Coastal Association of REALTORS®.)