Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Focus Group Schedule

I have received the following email from the Department of Planning and Zoning and I thought I would pass it along to you:

We are canceling the June 28 meeting of the Focus Group and, in its place, will meet on Wednesday, July 5 at 3:00 p.m. in The Other Barn in the Oakland Mills Village Center at 5851 Robert Oliver Place.

The meeting date and topic have been changed so that we can have an open discussion about the process we have been using and how we can best ensure that, collectively, we create a vision that the community wants. For quite a while, there has been a string of critical emails about the charrette and focus group process and the issues as presented by DPZ. We know that, at the Vision Howard County session, people also criticized the process and information being generated in the focus group meetings.

With so much more work to be done to formulate the Master Plan, we want to get on the right track. So, we want to talk about how to reach a consensus, how to improve the communications and how we make sure that all concerns are on the table. This will be a “pulse check” of the focus group. We will have a facilitator to assist us.

We hope the shift in dates does not cause any serious inconvenience but we think it is important to have this discussion. We look forward to seeing you on July 5 at The Other Barn.

Reminder: The Focus Group meeting scheduled for July 12 to discuss the traffic study will be held at The Other Barn in the Oakland Mills Village Center at 5851 Robert Oliver Place.

It is good to hear that the Department of Planning and Zoning recognizes that they have not been "on the right track" and they now want to "get on the right track". I have from the start wanted to work constructively to get the best plan for downtown reflecting what the community has said repeatedly it wants. I hope this will help get the process back on the right track, but to do so it is very important that this meeting is open for all to attend and to speak up. The facilitator should be instructed that it is an open meeting and all people whether they are on the focus group or not should be heard from, since one of the issues that prompted this meeting according to the Department of Planning and Zoning is complaints about "the focus group process". I also strongly recommend, and I must emphasis the importants of this, that this meeting be video taped so there is a record to be referred back to if there is a disagreement on what was said. This last issue is crucial to rebuilding trust into this process, which is something we all want.

Well, now I am off to Yosemite for a week of camping and I look forward to participating in the meeting on July 5th, when I get back.

Oh, and since I am on the subject of Yosemite I guess I should leave you with a link to the best wedding picture ever (no one I know, but it is courtesy of Yosemite Blog).