Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to Mr. Jack Prattís letter in your paper last week titled ìResponsible Councilî. Mr. Pratt, who is a Realtor with Pratt & Co., claims that recent proposals and plans made by County Council have put numerous construction trade workers out of business and caused widespread damage to the local economy. What Mr. Pratt fails to mention, and should be aware of since Robert Pratt is on the Planning Commission, is that there are more than 4,200 houses in the pipeline for Dorchester County alone. These are houses that have previously been approved by the County and could keep all of those displaced workers busy for sometime. Mr. Pratt is in the real estate business and should know full well that the downturn in the housing market is a national problem brought on by several factors. Over building, faulty lending practices and an unbalanced economy helped to create a bubble that has now burst. What is happening locally and nationwide is an example of what happens when unsustainable growth in any market is left unchecked. Mr. Pratt also knows that there are thousands of homes in the tri-county area that are not selling. We have not put a moratorium on selling homes. To state that Mr. Rosebrock and I have put anyone out of work is dishonest and irresponsible.

In the past year, County Council has done exactly what Mr. Pratt suggests in his letter. We are taking the time to plan for Dorchester County in a manner that allows all citizens to prosper. If we continue to operate as we have in the past, all citizens will face increased taxes, a lessened quality of life, inadequate public facilities and ever increasing overcrowding of our schools and roads. Since it does take a majority vote of Council for all decisions, I believe that the majority of Council understands that we stand on the threshold of a very important era for Dorchester County. We can continue along as we have, giving the builders free rein without considering the impact on our community or we can conscientiously plan the direction our County will take over the coming years in a manner that all taxpaying citizens find beneficial.   

Study after study has shown that each new house that is built costs the citizens of Dorchester County thousands of dollars for services and infrastructure, an amount much greater than the home provides. We must all understand that residential development does not pay for itself! We must link our residential development to our ability to provide infrastructure and economic development. We must balance our residential growth with industrial and commercial growth to offset the cost or we will all pay much higher taxes or much higher service fees to pay debt. Industry provides us with a positive revenue stream with which we can reduce our debt and start to bring our public facilities up to the standards that our citizens deserve. Mr. Pratt apparently wants the citizens of Dorchester County to continue to subsidize the home building industry instead of pursuing fair and balanced options.

Mr. Pratt has made very serious and false allegations either intentionally or unintentionally against Mr. Rosebrock and myself. I do not own property that is strategically situated for public utilities to buy nor have I ever voted on a matter from which I would profit. In fact, I have granted easement for utilities free of charge in order to help my neighbors. I chose not to profit from the situation, an action that may be beyond Mr. Prattís comprehension.

We have worked very hard this past year trying to provide solutions for the challenges faced by Dorchester County. We should all continue to search for innovative answers to the very real difficulties we currently face. The members of County Council have come together to find solutions. It is my hope that Mr. Pratt and others will join these efforts to deal with issues instead of making false statements and accusations. As for the upcoming elections Mr. Pratt mentioned, the citizens of Dorchester County have been voting for managed, responsible growth and I believe they will continue to do so.

My constituents appreciate the fact that I do not cater to special interest and that Mr. Rosebrock and I represent them and their concerns. We are responsible councilmen.

Jamie Feltner

Dorchester County

Councilman District 7