Columbia Council Rep Report

CA Board Meeting September 27, 2018

These notes reflect Nancy’s viewpoint only.
The official minutes of the Columbia Association Board meetings can be found on the CA website at: 
Nancy encourages you to send her your comments on her notes. Please reply to her directly at [email protected] 


Resident Speakout

David Phillips, Director, Columbia Festival of the Arts, came to thank CA for making this summer’s festival such a successful event.  Over 17,000 people attended Lakefest which meant no deficit for the Festival at the end of the year.

Hilton Gluck talked about the golfers at Hobbits Glen.  He read a letter to Mr. Matthews complaining about the condition of the fairways.  He says there is a ground swell of dissatisfaction by golfers.  He spoke on behalf of others.

Board Vote – Patuxent Branch Trail Easement Request from Howard County

The plan is technically complete.  It is clear the pathway will be underwater during heavy rains because of its close proximity to the river.

It seems there is no other way to deal with this issue.  The Maryland Department of the Environment had just given the County approval for the work planned.  Pervious paving won’t work in a flood plain.   Therefore the pathway would have to be impervious which would contribute to the flooding.  There is some information and potential for some changes that would make a much better solution for the area.   The County Council isn’t voting on this now.  There appears to be no reason for CA to rush to vote on this easement.  However, the County wants our response as soon as possible because they want to begin building the pathway so users of the trail don’t have to compete with construction trucks for space on the roadway.

All but one mile of the trail is in the flood plain already.  There is a plan to put in a fence along the river, a split rail perhaps, to protect children and animals from the river.  The County says once the easement is granted, the pathway can be completed in two weeks.    Otherwise residents will be subjected to deal with the construction issues through the winter.  However, if it only takes two weeks, if CA gives approval in a couple weeks, the pathway can be completed by November.

Several Board members voiced concern about the process, and about the current plan.  Some support the developer moving forward, while others want to be assured that the best possible plan is provided for safety and for the environmental impact.  The debate about this went on for a while.  Compromises were suggested.  However, the Board could not come to agreement on approval for the easement.  This will be taken up at the next meeting.

Budget Testimony – Village Community Associations and Other Community Stakeholders

The Oakland Mills Village Board Chair submitted a request for better HVAC for the Other Barn along with other requests.

Kevin McAliley, Wilde Lake Village Board Chair, spoke about requests for the Village.  The biggest request is for renovating the theatre in Slayton House.

Deborah Wessner of the Watershed Advisory Committee wanted to see if there is progress in the watershed projects in Columbia.  There is still work to be done.

Duane St. Claire spoke on behalf of pickle ball.  He is founder and past president of the Howard County Pickle Ball Association.   He is asking for courts to be added to the pickle ball roster.

Board Discussion:  Howard County Phase 2 Land Development Regulations Assessment.  Presentation by Ms. Marsha McLaughlin

Marsha McLaughlin, former Director, Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ), spoke to the Board.  She brought information about DPZ and the plan changes.  New Town Zoning is going to be addressed early by the new DPZ director.  Over the past 50 years, ratios of land uses have changed.  There have been a number of changes.  The upcoming changes are up to the Planning Board and its interpretation.  There have been some appeals of the Planning Board changes. Anything in Columbia goes to the Planning Board. This includes apartments, employment, commercial/industrial but single family does not.  Final development plans are amended over time, i.e. the site for Wegmans had been in an industrial location but changed to allow for a large grocery.

The Planning Board makes recommendations to the Zoning Board on County wide major issues.

The market changes and moving forward mixed use is the big zoning plan.  That will be the story for a while until that changes.  How do regulations get changed?  Does the Planning Board have purview of fitting the spirit if not the letter of the law?  Yes.

There are two ways to go with New Town Zoning, i.e. 1.  What’s permitted or 2. Design criteria and not be so rigid.   What kind of uses are permitted?  Mixed use district such as downtown is what will likely be created for Gateway district.

Lakeview is a mixed use area where a small strip center is proposed.   Gateway is not New Town.  The covenants are coming off in Gateway and it will go mixed use.   Millennials want to be in downtown.  Suburban office parks are passé.

There was a lengthy discussion about how areas can be created such as districts.  Talking about mixed use and harming the Village Centers was also discussed.  Things are changing.  It won’t stop changing.  We need to be open to new processes and new ways to create development.

The question was asked: How do we continue the Columbia plan?  A streamlined process is needed to help users, i.e. developers and current residents and businesses.  Currently the process is so cumbersome it threatens future development.

Adequate Public Facility Ordinance (APFO) was put in place to be certain that there adequate facilities such as schools, sewers, etc. for future development.  We need to remain economically diverse or we can stagnate.  People want to live here.  Columbia is an ideal location between Baltimore and Washington.  Howard County has excellent schools, libraries, and health care.   Columbia was ranked the best small city in the US.   Its population continues to grow.  We need to be certain our zoning regulations are clear and will be suitable into the future.

Happy Fall everyone.

Nancy McCord

[email protected]