Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Today’s Focus Group

Today’s Focus Group (or at least its second half) was one of the more interesting ones. It turns out the county finally ran the numbers of proposed square footage and proposed building footprints and heights and discovered that the whole proposed square footage could be achieved without buildings over 12 stories high. It is amazing to think that if they had run the numbers first all of this public uproar about 20 story buildings could have been prevented. The Department of Planning and Zoning says that they will have their PowerPoint with the numbers and some models of the look of building heights after redevelopment online tomorrow. If they do I will start sharing it with you on this blog. I want to give a special thanks to Randy Clay and Mina Hilsenrath who clearly put a lot of time and hard work into running these numbers and creation these models.

On a side note, the County’s Department of Planning and Zoning says they convened the Focus Group to get the reactions of the community to the plan so they can refine it before it goes into the approval process. If this is truly their goal then they should desire audience comments and participation so they can get as much input as possible so the plan so the maximum range of concerns are heard before the approval process starts. The new “moderator” seems not to get this and is trying to change the rules in mid-stream and not allow the audience to contribute in the discussion where it would have the most impact and instead wants all the audience to throw their comments out at the end of the Focus Group meeting without their relevance or context connected to the discussion that prompted them. To say that such new rules are not constructive to the Focus Group’s stated goals would be a huge understatement. I hope the Department of Planning and Zoning will live up to its declarations and make sure that anyone who takes the time to attend (in many cases people are using their leave from work to do so since they insist on having the meetings during the work day) will be allowed to speak during the flow of discussion as was allowed at all of the past Focus Group meetings (and I have attended all of them except for two).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is the new moderator? Providing their name would allow direct feedback to them regarding public opinion of this meeting format change.

8:54 PM  

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