Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Howard County Council Vote on 5/5/08

The County Council is considering the creation of a design panel, five professionals, to review projects to ensure compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood.

There is some concern that requiring development to be reviewed would further hamper a cumbersome planning process. A board member of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, Gregory Lowe is quoted as saying "We want to make sure the process is implemented in a way that it doesn't become more drawn out"

I agree with Mr Lowe, the process should not be drawn out, either at the front end or especially at the back end, when mistakes or differences are found to late. Mistakes do draw out the process. I am reminded of a book written be Norm Abram ( of T.V. Fame)
"Measure Twice, Cut Once: Lessons from a Master Carpenter.
Put another way, plan once, review the plans, then proceed.

I also agree that the planning director be assigned the responsibly to reject the panel's recommendations or require the developer to adopt the recommendations.
This gives the planning director the opportunity to leave a paper trail as to their conclusions, and the opportunity for the developer to sign off on their agreement to accept the recommendations.

One last thing, Mr Talkin, a lawyer who represents several county developers, said the original plan was for the panel to be voluntary, and he thought this concept should be revisited by the county. I agree with Mr. Talkin. It should be revisited by the county, so that it is rejected in a clear and objective manner. A panel of professionals, individuals who do their job well and get paid for doing their job, is the correct way to go with the design panel.

I think Mr Talkin would agree with this, since he is a paid professional, and would appreciate the value of employing , experienced, and well trained. individuals for the job.


Sometimes it takes a woman, or maybe four women.

Something I noticed in the 4/25/08 edition of the Examiner.

“We urge you ... to ask the Department of Planning and Zoning before the end of the year to produce a design manual,” Grace Kubofcik, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Howard County, told the council council at a recent hearing.

The issue of a Route 40 design manual was raised as the council is considering a bill to create a design advisory panel, which would review developments in areas where an approved design manual exists.
Without a manual, planners can’t enforce certain design elements, such as reducing sign clutter or planting trees.

Angela Beltram, a member of the Route 40 task force, echoed the sentiment, saying it was her “wishful thinking” that a design manual would be released.

Council Chairwoman Courtney Watson, D-District 1, said the council would take up the issue during budget work sessions.

County planners have their hands full with several other initiatives, such as infill legislation, downtown Columbia redevelopment and the Design Advisory Panel, said Kim Flowers, deputy director for the Department of Planning and Zoning.
“We really would like to bring some of those to completion so once we resume work on Route 40, we can give it the proper attention it deserves,” Flowers said.
Although she couldn’t give an exact date for release, she said Route 40 is “definitely still on our radar.”
“We would have loved to have been able to tackle this earlier, but currently we are in the situation we are with a number of endeavors we really want to bring to completion,” she said.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Don't want to wake up in Columbia County

A few years ago there were plans to revitalize Route 40 in Ellicott city, the resources were pulled away from that project, to be used in Columbia. The Ellicott City area is still waiting, the resources are still being used in Columbia

More than 2 years ago a couple friends in Glenwood were telling me of their concern that Columbia would stop them from having the recreational fields they wanted. I was surprised that they would even think that.

A year ago a farmer friend of mine told me that the best thing that could happen to western Howard County, would be if it could separate itself, using route 32 as the dividing line, from the rest of the county. I ask why, and he said, " Because they just don't care about us, it's those Columbia people, it's all about Columbia".

Now Council member Fox, who represents western Howard County, seems to think the council was misled because funding that was approved to overhaul government headquarters in Ellicott City, may be used to renovate and purchase new office space in Oakland Mills, Columbia.

Now I hear there are plans to sell county owned property in Ellicott City, near Rogers Ave and Route 40 to finance the new office space in Columbia, although there are no plans to prevent traffic, school crowding and infrastructure problems, in Ellicott City, should this property be turned into residential development.

A few nights ago at a meeting in the George Howard Building, Diane Butler ( candidate for the Board of Education, you got my vote Diane) told me about the change in the master plan for the Miller Library, in Ellicott City. Amenities to the Miller Library were cut in favor of adding frills to the Central Library in Columbia. Read about it in the Howard County Times, if you don't believe me.

Has it become so important to win votes, in Columbia, that the county surrounding the city, has to feel and become sub servant to the city. Lets hope this is temporary, and wiser and more mature minds will bring balance in such a way that all county residents will feel better as well as live better lives no matter what part of the county they live in.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Go Dems

A friend sent me some up lifting information for Howard County Democrats

January 1 thru March 31, there was a drastic change in political party affiliation.

GOP lost 480, gained 436, for a net loss of 44.

Unaffiliated lost 1335, gained 208, for a net loss of 1127.

Dems lost 292, gained 1484, for a net gain of 1192.

The miscellaneous missing numbers were for Greens, Libertarians, etc.

The Board of Elections was flooded with people who realized they had no
voice in the choice of candidates if they stayed away from the parties.

Help Mt. Hebron - Recent Events

Help Mount Hebron Mission

HMH has stated repeatedly since February 2007 that our mission is to seek safe, code compliant building where the educational programs, as provided for in Howard CountyPublic Sschool System' 1999 educational specifications, can be delivered effectively without compromise in a positive building environment.

Board of Education Renovation Presentation was made on Thursday, April 10th, The Board of Education was presented the design schematic for the Mt. Hebron renovation project. Remedies to deficiencies referred to in our April Update were shown on the new drawings. ( for drawings).

The design now includes:
a new science room and a renovated science room to remedy the current condition of 2 undersized science rooms. Both rooms would meet Ed Specs.
an internal gathering area for the students in the front and access through the courtyard.
Under sized classrooms are being looked at to see if the principal wants to keep them or have them reconfigured to one ed spec sized classroom and a smaller space of 400 square feet. The principal has yet to make this decision.

The location of the two modulars was identified. They are to be placed near by the baseball fields and it appears on the small parking lot there. The lot will be closed to traffic and a student pedestrian "plaza" will exist to ensure their safety.

Dr. Cousin stated that the HCPSS is fully committed to implementing the plan and seeking the necessary funding. Funding will be sought on actual costs.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Video of the PELU 4/10/08 meeting

With a special thanks to Bill Taylor,
To access the video, go to : then left > click on the "PELU 4/10/08 Meeting..." to view the video. It is a large > file (580meg but easily viewable with a high speed connection). You can > right click on it to save it to your computer. (Right click on the link > then left click on "Save Link As.." option to download it and save it as > a file on your computer if desired.)


Thursday, April 10, 2008


Dear Jim ,
Join CUIP's National Conference Call
It's Spring...And Independents Are In Bloom! Updates And Inside Stories From The Independent Movement

This is the beginning of another political love note I receive about once a month. I want to tell you what my experience has been with this group. One evening during the month I will receive a call from a female with a young sweet innocent voice (they know their market). The conversation starts out very politically broad based for a minute or two, then I always ask"do you find it hard to build a unified independent party". The answer is always, "Jim, we are not building a party". I love it when she says "Jim", it almost makes me forget what CUIP stands for. CUIP - The Committee for a Unified Independent PARTY. Then she sweet talks a little more, and I know she is waiting for my answer to her question about a donation. My answer is always"No", and that quick she is gone, and they say men are always in a hurry.

The reason I am writing this, was not to bad mouth CUIP. I am just thinking about the world of politics. My Dad loved politics, and had great admiration for people who served in office, as naive as I know that sounds it was true. I admit I am my father's son, just as naive, still a political virgin. I tell you this because it doesn't matter whether it is CUIP, Republicans, or the Dems, there are times when I feel like I am sitting at a bar, and the woman next to me is not my wife, not my daughter, not my mother, and yet she expects me to gamble on the price of a drink when I know I will loss.

I think we need to get more for our money, not just our donations, more importantly the taxes we pay. As a democracy grows it becomes much more complex as a form of government and drifts away from serving those it should be representing. Our founding fathers didn't plan this to happen, it is a natural occurrence with growth. This is why we have to speak up, from the grass roots, speak loud and clear, but to do this we have to be informed and know what we want. In the last local election the buzz word was "accountability", it has been followed by "transparency", and if I could choose the next word, it would be "objectivity". But the words are not working, because we are saying that is what government should be. As my dear and wonderful chemistry teacher use to say "We got it Bass Acwards".

We should be more accountable, why was 4.million given to the Howard Co. Hospital fund raiser by our local government. I am sure that 4.million could have fixed something within our schools or somewhere in the county infrastructure, and the hospital would have still raised that money.
Why is Mt Hebron Senior High School happy about a "promise' that 27million might go into a contingency fund this year towards the work that needs to be do. They have been fighting for this for years. Will our property taxes go down, because house values are decreasing, don't bet on it. It would not cross any ones mind to reduce government spending.

Another thing, that house bill in Annapolis hb246, I heard it was pulled off the floor by a Senator who was not from Howard County. I hope this isn't true, I wouldn't want to think this was done so any of our Senators wouldn't look bad having to vote against a large private effort by citizens.

That reminds me I should stop here, I need to send an e-mail to Annapolis. I have some time next week maybe I will ride down to Annapolis, have a couple beers and chat with friends about this last session.

2008 Silver Anniversary Columbia Triathlon

Sunday, May 18, 2008Centennial Lake - Ellicott City, Maryland, USA1.5k Swim - 41k Bike - 10k Run
Presented by Under Armour
All entrants will receive an Under Armour Tech Shirt!
There are 37 days left until race day.

The 2008 Silver Anniversary Columbia Triathlon is a qualifying race for Best Of The U.S.
The Men's Pro entrants for the Silver Anniversary Columbia Triathlon is going to be the most competitive field in the history of the race!Course Record holder, Matt Reed, has committed to coming back to defend (and hopefully break) his own course record. Matt is also vying for a spot on the 2008 US Men's Olympic Triathlon Team. To challenge Matt will be Chris McCormack, 2007's Ironman Hawaii World Champion. And last but certainly not least, Greg Remaly, the 2007 Columbia Triathlon Winner, will be back to defend his title.This is going to be one for the record books!
The Columbia Triathlon is produced in cooperation with the Howard County Department of Parks and Recreation and will once again be held at beautiful Centennial Lake/Park, located in Ellicott City, Maryland which borders our planned community of Columbia.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Annapolis - 2008 Enviromental Legislative Wrap-up

Maryland's 2008 General Assembly session finished last night, and I have a few highlights on the environmental bills that failed or passed

Global warming: Strongest, most comprehensive global warming legislation in the nation, was weekend by a "poison pill"' amendment on the Senate floor, and than killed in the House Economic Matters committee

Energy Efficiency: Four bills passed that will save Marylanders $4.1 billion

Cleaning up the Bay: Legislation passed to achieve nutrient pollution reduction and water quality improvements, but the General Assembly cut 25 million from Bay Trust Fund

Critical area Reform : Passed a bill to limit development in critical bay areas.

Intercounty Connector (ICC): Bills to halt the ICC, eliminate funding, and require global warming impact study died in committee

Smart Growth; Two bills passed to make use of transit investment, promote walkable communities, and steer growth to locations convenient to mass transit.

If you have read this far your either a Legislative junkie, enviromental nut, or you have been drinking too much coffee. In any case may I suggest

Monday, April 07, 2008

Potential Recommendations by PELU task force.

There is a list of potential recommendations, which are being considered by the PELU task force. They will be posted on . Feel free to give the task force feedback on these recommendations either at the public hearing scheduled on 4/10/08 or on the blog.

The county is having technical difficulties with the post, but they should be on the blog as soon as possible.

Final recommendations will be made after the 4/10/08 hearing when the task force has had a chance to review each recommendation

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Allan, Jim, and Ed know you will be in touch.

There are two out spoken groups who are speaking out, and they want YOU to join them.

This Monday, April 7, 2008 is the last day of the General Assembly session for 2008, and so the last day in this session for the Senate to vote on HB246. Enabling legislation for standing on land use issues.

The first group, League of Women Voters, provides e-mail address and thoughts for your e-mail.

The second group, Howard County Land Use Coalition, provides e-mail address, thoughts, and phone numbers.

With all this information, you can call and e-mail.

League of Women Voters,

We ask you to take action either a phone call or an email :
Monday is the last day of the general Assembly session for 2008. The enabling legislation for standing on land use issues HB246 will come to a vote on Monday having passed successfully out of the Senate Committee on Saturday 4/5. Please contact your state Senator (, western Howard County and Ellicott City;, Columbia east; or, Columbia west) and urge him to use his influence to ensure that this important bill gets a vote on the Senate floor.

This message needs to go out today or tomorrow so that they will have time to act. HB 246 simply enables our Howard County Council to decide what rights of standing they want to give to their citizens. It requires nothing and, in and of itself, grants nothing except the right of local government to make its own decision. This right is already enjoyed by all but seven counties in Maryland. It is simply a matter of leveling the playing field to allow Howard County the rights that almost all other counties and municipalities already have.

Howard County Land Use Coalition

Timing is critical, here's why:

o HB246 was released from committee with a favorable vote
o HB246 has not shown up on the Senate agenda for vote
o Annual session ends Monday (tomorrow) at midnight

Our representatives need to hear from all of us - again - this afternoon (Sunday) in order to provide them with the time and basis to put this bill on the agenda for Monday (tomorrow).

Please contact Senators:,

to urge them to use influence to ensure that this important bill gets a vote on the Senate floor. Use any method of contact and number of contacts you prefer.

Phone number for Senator Kasemeyer: (410) 841-3653, Senator Kittleman: (410) 841-3671, Senator Robey: (410) 841-3572.

Pls forward to your email lists - make it as easy as possible for these Senators to know without question the importance and numbers of us who support this bill.

Suggested email text is below.

Dear Senators,
HB246, sponsored by Delegate Liz Bobo and Delegate Virginia Clagett of Anne Arundel County has passed all of the way through the House of Delegate and yesterday afternoon received a favorable vote in the Senate Committee. The full Senate met in session today and voted out many bills, but HB246 has not yet shown up on the agenda for the Senate floor.
This bill simply ENABLES the Howard County Council and the local legislative bodies of six other Maryland counties to adopt local legislation that would give its residents the right to challenge a land use decision made by its government. It would be up to the local county council to determine how broad or narrow this right would be.
The people of Howard County are counting on you to see that this bill is brought up for a vote and passed out of the Senate.
I know that you are in the extremely busy last day of the legislative session. I do request a response informing me of how you voted.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

% of Commerical to Residual property use in Howard County

Does any one know the percentage of commercial to residual property use in Howard County.

I don't.

Does anyone care what the percentage is.

I do.

I heard that 35% (commercial), 65% (residual), would have a very positive impact on the property taxes we would pay.

What you think???