Once upon a time, in Howard County Maryland, there was a tiny crossroads village sitting on high land along the carriage route from Montgomery County to Annapolis. At first there wasn’t more than an “ordinary” or wayside inn where weary travelers could refresh themselves. Nearby prosperous farms produced sustaining crops and livestock. Over a few hundred years other businesses settled the crossroads: a general store, a wheelwright shop, a bank, a post office, the Grange Hall and eventually a gas station and auto repair shop.
By 2002 the ordinary was long gone, but otherwise the crossroads of Maryland routes 108, 216 and Highland Road, now known as Highland, had not changed much. The old bank building had become an integrative pharmacy, the Grange Hall a feed store, the Post Office a veterinary clinic, the wheelwright shop a home furnishings emporium and the anchor of the crossroads, a country market, virtually functioned as an informal town hall.
To the north of Highland, Clarksville’s center welcomed the Columbia Village of River Hill. East of Highland the upscale urbanity of Maple Lawn was taking shape. But Highland remained relatively simple and bucolic. In fact it is the last country crossroads community in Howard County. Yet it became obvious the village was about to experience the pressures of change and development. A forward-thinking nucleus of residents rose to this reality and formed the Greater Highland Crossroads Association (GHCA).
GHCA was formed in March 2002, spurred by increasing development pressures in the area. It continues to represent Highland and rural portions of Fulton, Dayton Clarksville on issues affecting our quality of life.
The goal of GHCA is to see new development evolve in a way which compliments, not compromises, the Highland area. To do this the Association works with the Howard County Council, the Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ), other community organizations, business stake-holders and developers to achieve a healthy mix of residential and commercial properties while preserving the spacious, natural environment which makes the Highland area a desirable place to live, work and enjoy life.
Since 2002, GHCA has either spear-headed, or worked in concert with other organizations to fulfill the organization’s mission and commitment to the community. Some of the highlights include:
- Development of NW corner of the Crossroads in collaboration with developers.
- Creation of architectural, site design, and streetscape standards.
- Negotiated a narrower streetscape along 108 and the intersection with MD SHA producing new pedestrian signaling and crosswalk, a third lane with tree space next to roadway on the west side of 108.
- Design, creation, placement and maintenance of the four Highland welcome signs.
- Leadership of Highland Day from 2005 through 2015.
- Championing of BR zoning for a new restaurant.
- Support on behalf of citizens by representation before the Hearing Authorities and DPZ.
- Successful opposition to a large funeral home.
- Support for Allnutt Estates residents in successful opposition to illegal landscape contractor.
- Assistance in preserving HI-Land Farm.
- Successful enforcement actions against various zoning violations at Crossroads.
- Extensive participation in two comprehensive zoning rounds, 2004 and 2013.
- Co-leadership of a widely supported referendum petition drive.
- Multi-year effort to remove BRX from zoning plan.
- Hosting community picnic.
- Recognition as stewards of the crossroads community.
- Vigilant enforcement of the sign regulations.
- Publisher of periodic newsletter to over 350 email addresses to community and key Howard County officials.
- Successful rescue by GHCA concerned residents and leadership of seriously declining Highland Post Office, returning it to award-winning status.
- Supported other associations such as the Howard County Citizens Association, HCCA and the Concerned Citizens of Western Howard County, CCWHC by means of testimony, correspondence, and participation in meetings:
- From the beginning in 2016, actively participated in every HCCA meeting with the Director and staff of DPZ yielding many improvements in polices and procedures as well as the current review of all development regulations by Howard County’s consulting firm, Clarion.
- Supported CCWHC in successfully blocking implementation of disastrous legislation to permit up to 75 acres of industrial solar on farm preservation parcels.
- Supported the efforts of the Mulching Task Force to greatly restrict mulching activities in the RR and RC zones.
All of the above have gained the of respect from the Howard County Government and the development community.