A local issue in the
would not attract much attention, but this one exposes the incredible short
sightedness and ignorance of people who are trying to preserve rural areas from
uncontrolled growth. The issue involves
a billionaire, Mitchell Rales and his desire
to exhibit a fabulous art collection by building a beautiful museum on his
rural estate outside Maryland Washington.
The full scope of his ambitions for Glenstone did not become clear until recently, when the obsessively secretive billionaire sent an e-mail to many of those who attended the party. In it, he revealed his grand vision for Glenstone, which would include a new museum that would rival the size of the
of the National Gallery of Art. East Building
Mr. Rales is a billionaire, but as billionaires go he seems a fairly benign one.
During two interviews, Rales admitted he was nervous, but he stressed the point that he is devoted to the idea of opening up his estate to the public.
“I sit here and I say to myself, ‘I am 55 years old, I have had an incredible amount of good fortune in my life.’ I have had to make some choices about how to bestow some of that good fortune back to the world,” he said.
He doesn’t want to impose an authoritarian right wing agenda on
America. He doesn’t want to gut the Federal government
and he is not using his billions to foment political and social discord. He lives very quietly and is an avid art
collector. He is obviously not like a
lot of other billionaires, those that belong to the “We hate America club”.
So what is the issue? It is this.
|The current museum - Do Environmentalists want something like this, or|
would they prefer a big old septic tank?
To achieve that, though, Rales, who co-founded the highly profitable Danaher Corp., wants something that his $3 billion in net worth cannot buy: a connection to the public sewer system.
Again, what’s the issue? Well here it is.
Glenstone is in an area of Montgomery where, to help control growth, sewers are generally banned; instead, septic systems are used. The county planning board voted down Rales’s request in late May, citing environmental concerns and the risk of setting a precedent that could dismantle the sewer ban throughout the slow-growth area. Local environmental groups and some neighbors are opposed, noting that, at 3,000 feet, the sewer line would be one of the longest ever approved by the county and would run across an environmentally vulnerable stream.
Yes, read that first sentence again, which is to say, think about the idiocy of banning sewers and relying on septic tanks to manage growth and the environment. Septic tanks are like little waste water treatment plants, but they are prone to malfunction and are highly unreliable in that role. They tend to send polluted water into the ground if they are not maintained properly, and yes they are typically not maintained properly. A proper sewage/waste water treatment facility is far superior.
And yet the idiots (no the word is not too strong) who are in charge here are deliberately supporting the highly polluting septic systems over proper waste treatment to prevent uncontrolled growth. Of course the proper way of preventing uncontrolled growth is to prevent uncontrolled growth. Zoning standards are a fine method, as are other regulations. Supporting septic systems over sewage treatment is like saying they will make the land and water so polluted that growth will not take place. What insanity.
But nevertheless people this ignorant are trying to prevent Mr. Rales from getting his hookup, even though he would pay the cost. Look people, it is hard enough trying to prevent greedy and rapacious developers from despoiling the American rural landscape, why do you also have to be part of the problem?