AMP developers have been upfront with their plans

AMP developers have been upfront with their plans

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Diane Derrick Kimble, Ashton

I challenge Bob Sullivan’s perspective, which accuses the developers behind Ashton Meeting Place shopping center (not a mall) of ignoring the community’s concerns (‘‘Are AMP developers really listening to the community?” June 14 letter).

There have been few individuals (out of the proclaimed 800) against the shopping center that have attended any or all meetings (four) the developers held. It appears false information continues to circulate at the opposition’s hand. How can anyone make informed assessments when they choose not to attend the developers’ meetings? Where have the citizens of the self-created Sandy Spring-Ashton Rural Preserve Consortium been?

The developers have been up-front and honest, and provided the experts to answer questions regarding the development of AMP. They have also listened to the concerns of the community and have incorporated many of those changes at a huge cost (their own) to the project. How many developers do you know that actually inform and ask for input from the community? The developers should be applauded for creating an esthetically beautiful center, which captures a yesteryear feel. The center respects the environment and will serve the community’s needs well.

Mr. Sullivan crossed the line, however, when he accused an investor of blanketing the community with a letter ‘‘informing his neighbors that the plans are revised to reflect their concerns and all is well.” He implied that he spoke untruths about the project and misrepresented the community. This is totally false and disrespectful. The majority of the people living in the Ashton⁄Sandy Spring area do feel that AMP will benefit the community.

That investor and his brother grew up on the corner in Ashton and worked a family business gasoline station. They are part of the history in Ashton⁄Sandy Spring. They have given countless hours in multiple community efforts and businesses including the Sandy Spring Lions Club, the Sandy Spring Museum, Sandy Spring Friends House, Sandy Spring Bank, Montgomery General Hospital, Wintergrowth, Brooke Grove Foundation, the Sandy Spring Fire Department, the Olney Theatre and many local churches.

That investor has devoted his almost 80 years of life to the betterment of this community through physical, intellectual and financial support. He would not intentionally mislead the people in any circumstance. Anyone who has truly known him, has only known him to be kind, compassionate, generous and honest.

By the way, ‘‘the most cherished community institution, the Sandy Spring Museum,” as Mr. Sullivan quoted, would not be on the property it is currently sitting without that investor. He is the one who procured the property for the museum and went on (along with several others) to establish and assist in providing funds for operating the organization. He was also on the board for many years, contributed financially, and procured funds for operations. In fact, he is still donating and raising money for the museum currently. Through good deeds, hard work, and vision, he has ensured the museum’s ongoing success. This community owes him a debt of gratitude for significantly contributing to the preservation of its heritage.

Perhaps Mr. Sullivan should list for the community all of the citizens who are against AMP (including himself) that have subdivided and sold off their properties (or portions of their properties) to ‘‘unruralize” the area. Those individuals have served their own personal needs well. As owners of their property, they were able to decide what they wanted to do with the land without opposition. They have created havoc on our roads both in the development of those houses and by contributing to the excessive traffic that clogs routes 108 and New Hampshire Avenue daily.

I welcome the opportunity to travel only one mile in that traffic, rather than three or four.

The developers have presented an exceptional design on the only remaining commercial property in Ashton. Let’s welcome all of the new citizens of Ashton and Sandy Spring, enjoy the beauty of the center, and serve the needs of the citizens living in the surrounding area.

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