Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fourth of July Open Thread

What are your favorite things to do in Howard County on the Fourth of July?

While we all enjoying time with friends and family, it is also a good time to reflect on both the courage of our Founding Fathers and the courage of other people who stand up for the right to select who governs them, such as the Iranian people have been doing for the last two weeks.

The National Archives has a transcription of the Declaration of Independence online.

Howard County is the home of some of the descendants of Charles Carrroll, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Come meet the New CA President Tonight

The Columbia Association is hosting a Meet and Greet with new CA President Phil Nelson.

Come by tonight from 6-7:30pm to Historic Oakland Manor at 5430 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, MD 21044.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Local Voices in the Health Care Debate

As the nation dives into the health care debate a number of Howard County residents taking part as well.

First up, what you can do:

There is free event at Amherst House, in the Kings Contrivance Village Center this Saturday, June 27, 10:30 – 11:30 AM where you can whatever your health care problems/concerns, and regardless of your political affiliation stop by and write letter to your elected officials expressing your views on the critically important issue of affordable health care for all Americans.

A Kings Contrivance resident is organizing this event and will provide the tools: paper, pen, envelopes and stamps,, as well as, a list of addresses for U.S. Senators and Representatives elected to Congress by Howard County residents. And conveniently there is a mailbox right outside the door to Amherst House.


ABC News’ Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer moderated a conversation this evening with President Obama about health care. A special edition of Primetime “Questions for the President: Prescription for America” will air on Wednesday, June 24th from 10:00-11:00 PM ET on the ABC Television Network. The conversation with the President will continue on “Nightline” at 11:35pm ET. President Obama will answer questions in the East Room of the White House from an audience made up of Americans selected by ABC News who have divergent opinions on the health care debate. One of those selected is local businessman Brian England, owner of British American Auto Care.


Two friends of mine, Adam Green and Stephanie Taylor (who are not Howard County residents, but I still thought there effort might interest Howard County residents), are organizing an effort to advocate for the inclusion of a Public Option within the Health Care Plan. If you also support the inclusion of a Public Option then you can sign up to have your name listed as a supporter in an ad they are putting together. Click here to go look at the ad and find out how to sign up.

I personally would like universal health care and think the current health care system is inefficient and a drag on our economy. The more our elected hear support for either universal health care or the public option, the more likely we will get a workable health care system that isn't just another bloated give away to insurance companies. As Adam and Stephanie's ad makes clear special interests are pouring huge amounts of money into trying to block meaningful health care reform.

Labels: ,

Monday, June 22, 2009

County Council Work Session

How did the County Council Work Session this afternoon go? Share your thoughts.

And please remember that in order to have a productive conversation it is important to use usernames. Posting as Anonymous means you do not want to have a constructive dialog on the important issues facing our county.


School Board Member Allen Dyer Speaking at DFH Tuesday

School Board Member Allen Dyer is speaking at Democracy For Howard County (DFH), which is the local chapter of Democracy for America, this Tuesday, June 23rd at 7pm at the Locust Park Neighborhood Center in Long Reach just off of Route 175. Locust Park Neighborhood Center is at 8995 Lambskin Lane in Columbia.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

This is Leadership

Tonight County Councilwomen Jen Terrasa (D-3) and Mary Kay Sigaty (D-4) hosted a brainstorming session tonight with Village Board and Columbia Council members to brainstorm how a Master Planning process would work as part of village center redevelopment. After hearing two nights of testimony that included a lot of interest in the inclusion of a Master Plan, these two councilwomen took the lead to continue the discussion and to search for a solution on how the community imput they were recieving could be implemented. I have been very impressed by this constructive leadership and I look forward to seeing how the discussion continues and what actions they take to address the desire for a Master Plan process.

Here are so pictures of tonights meeting:

I spoke with Councilman Ball (D-2) earlier in the week and he is very engaged on this issue as well. It would have caused problems with the Open Meeting Act if three council people had attended this meeting, so his staff member attended.

Every village other than River Hill had representatives at the meeting and it was a very collaborative conversation.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

CB-29 Testimony

Testimony for CB-29 continues this evening at 6pm. There were a lot of people interested in testifying.

I have submitted the following testimony in writing:

Amendments to CB-29:

1) Add the mins and maxes proposed by CA
2) Removed the Minor Redevelopment process
3) Page 2 lines 19-22 amend to allow Village Associations be able to petition for to change PDPs, CSPs, FDPs, and SDPs
4) Page 3 lines 1-3 add comply with open space zoning requirements
5) Page 3 lines 19-21 make notifications to ALL villages and CA
6) Page 4 line 11 make DPZ staff report address the village community response statement
7) Page 5 paragraph (4) add lighting
8) Page 5 section A add “including its relationship with other village centers”
9) Page 5 line 26 take out word “center”
10) Page 5 section B add at end “and surrounding community”
11) Page 6 section E add “that will be open to public use” (I would like stronger language “open to public use, community events, free speech, and political discourse”)
12) Page 6 add section I “How redevelopment complies with definition of village center in Section 103, Part 168
13) Page 6 add section J “How redevelopment complies with Village Master Plan”
14) Page 7 section D part 1 change “approve the” to “Adopt a set of”
15) Page 8 section F line 1 add “including Concept Plan”
16) Page 8 section F at end add “and all property owners within the Village Center and the Community Association the Village Center is within”
17) Support OB testimony paragraph 2 (voting rights in CA/Village Elections) and amend to address those concerns

And I will happily talk about CB-29 with any Council member. The above is a rough sketch of how I think CB-29 can be revised to achieve a process that encourages Master Planning that takes a comprehensive look at redevelopment rather than piecemeal development that violates the very concept of Columbia as a Planned Community.

Labels: ,

Monday, June 15, 2009

Planning Board Chair David Grabowski Let's County Council Know How He Would Have Voted on ZRA 102

As you may recall the Planning Board split 2-2 on ZRA 102 (Village Center Revitalization Process Zoning Amendment that is now County Bill 29). Planning Board Chair David Grabowski was the fifth vote and was available to vote by phone at the time of the vote, but wasn't called. Until now I had not heard how he would have voted to break the 2-2 split. I am watching the County Council hearing at home, before going over to testify later this evening (I am towards the end of those signed up to testify) and David is up for reappointment to the Planning Board. When he was testifying on his reappointment, Courtney Watson (D-1) ask him how he would have voted. David said he would have voted with Tammy CitraManis and Linda Dombrowski.

Labels: , , ,

County Council Meets Today to Hear Testimony on Village Center Revitalization Rezoning

The County Council will hear testimony on CB-29 the County Bill that changes the zoning processes on Village Center Revitalization today at 7:30 at the Board of Education building’s Board Room, 10910 Route 108, Ellicott City, MD 21042.

You can sign up to testify on the County Council website.

Labels: ,

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Councilwoman Terrasa Reviews Village Center Revitalization Bill with the Kings Contrivance Village Board and Representatives of Owen Brown

On Thursday night Councilwoman Terrasa met with the Kings Contrivance Village Board and went line by line through CB-29, the County Bill on Village Center Redevelopment.

Also joining the discussion were the Owen Brown Village Board Chair Andy Stack and Vice Chair Summer Romack.

Councilwoman Terrasa brought with her copies of all the sections of the Zoning Regulations referred to in CB-29, an important component of reviewing any piece of legislation. She also brought examples of Preliminary Development Plans, Comprehensive Sketch Plans, Final Development Plans, Site Development Plans, and Document Site Plans for the board to see which has the levels of detail that it would need to assess proposed Village Center revitalization plans. She also brought copies of the report produced by Barbara Kellner at the Columbia Archives on the history and purpose of Village Centers. (The Columbia Archives completed this report upon my request when I was chairing the Planning and Strategy Committee on the Columbia Council and I am very glad to see it being used as we move forward on this very important matter.)

As a result of how prepared Councilwoman Terrasa and members of the Kings Contrivance and Owen Brown Village Boards were and hard work and great note taking of Jen Terrasa's assistant Mary Clay and intern Alison and Kings Contrivance Village Manager Anne Brinker, this meeting was the most productive and constructive meeting of I have attended in a long time.

Councilwoman Terrasa brought with her a comprehensive understanding of issue, clearly showing that she had followed the issue closely and delved into every aspect of this important piece of legislation. Her clear dedication to the Rouse vision and the importance of the Village Center within that vision was apparent throughout the discussion. She was searching for constructive solutions to amend the current legislation to ensure the legislation would result in well-planned Village Centers that could evolve while staying true to the Rouse vision. As a voter I think I have never been prouder of one of my representatives. She is well on her way to upholding my faith and trust in her.

Labels: ,

When the World Stands at a Pivotal Moment

Though the broadcast media coverage of what is going on in Iran has been pretty poor it is important for us to watch what is going on in Iran this week. The developments in Iran are some of the most significant events the world has seen since the coup in the Soviet Union in August 1991. I don't think anyone knows how it will turn out, but things are clearly at a pivot point.

You can follow events on the following sites:

Mir Hossein Mousavi Campaign's Twitter Feed (Mousavi is the person who just beat Ahmedinejad in the Presidential Election)

DailyKos Liveblogging

Juan Cole's Blog (Juan Cole is a professor of Middle Eastern History at the University of Michigan)

National Iranian American Council's Blog

Yes, I know this isn't Howard County related, but what happens in Iran this week will have significant impact for the whole world.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Funeral Service for Holocaust Museum Guard

The funeral service for Stephen Tyrone Johns, the Holocaust Museum guard, is today at 11am at the 7th Day Adventist Church at 727 West Montgomery Avenue, Rockville, MD. The service is open to the public.

A fund has also been set up by the Holocaust Museum to aid the Johns family.

My heart goes out to the Johns family. Stephen had a lot of courage to put himself into harms way day in and day out to make sure others would be safe and to fight hatred with knowledge.


Thursday, June 04, 2009


Kings Contrivance Village Board yesterday discussed CB 29 (the village center zoning bill) and will meet again next week to discuss it more. Kimco representatives came to the meeting, but the real highlight of the meeting was County Councilwoman Jen Terrasa. Though Councilwoman Terrasa is a very frequent attendee of Kings Contrivance Village Board meeting and I have seen her passion for finding the right outcome for her constituents and our county many times before, I have rarely seen the level of engagement from an elected official as I saw from Councilwoman Terrasa on Wednesday night. She is being extremely thorough in examining the bill and how the process it creates would function in practice.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Summer Lakefront Movie and Concert Schedule

One of my favorite summer activities is going to the free movies at the Columbia Lakefront that the Columbia Association sponsors. This summer's movies and concerts schedule is out. Which concerts and movies are you planning on going to?

Labels: ,

Monday, June 01, 2009

Village Center Zoning Reaches Its Final Step Before Approval

Zoning Regulation Amendment 102 (ZRA 102) that will change the process of approving changes to Columbia's Village Centers was filed with the County Council and becomes County Bill 29 (CB 29). The County Council will hear testimony on CB 29 on Monday, June 15th at 7:30pm and then will amend it (if they want to) and then vote on it. Go take a look and also review the Planning Boards report on ZRA 102. You may remember that the Planning Board ended up voting 2-2 on ZRA 102 and their report is a pretty interesting read.

So if you are interested in the process by which changes will be made to the Village Centers come out and testify on June 15th. The County Council is currently holding their hearings at the Board of Education in the Board Room at 10910 Route 108, Ellicott City, MD 21042.

One of the key questions is should Village Centers have Master Plans that guide the development of Village Centers? And without a Village Center Master Plan how do you move forward as a community that is planned as Columbia prides itself on being?

Labels: ,