May 2018 Newsletter and Annual Meeting Notice

April 30, 2018                                                                                                             Volume XV, Issue II

 

May 10 at 7:00 PM

St. Marks Church

 

At Your Service

Ever wonder what your Howard County tax dollars are netting you? Come to the meeting and representatives from multiple County agencies. So far we have acceptances from the Police, the Office of Aging and the Office of Consumer Affairs. We are waiting to hear from Recreation and Parks. Learn what surprising services are available to you and how to access them for the benefit of you and your family. The reps will fill you in on the services they provide and what is new and interesting in their department and in the County.

Zoning Updates

As promised we will share with you some of the details of many meetings with the Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ), including:

  • Expansion of public sewer and water (PSA)
  • Business Rural (BR)
  • Zoning Enforcement
  • Howard County Preservation Easements
  • Industrial Mulching

Traffic Safety

Despite the serious accident of June 2017 and another in March when 2 vehicles collided at the Post Office exit, and GHCA’s appeal to HCP, no substantive action has been taken to address speeding through the crossroads. You can be sure this will be one of the first questions we will have for the Howard County Police rep on May 10.

Election of Directors: The nominating committee will present a slate of Directors. The nominations are: Charlotte Williams, Lizanne Davis, Alan Schneider, Dan O’Leary, Scott Shearer, Mike Fennessy, Stu Kohn, Lori McDaniel, and Paul Collison.

The By-Laws provide for additional nominations by any member: “Upon written request (by hand, by postmarked mail or email) of at least one of the members of the Corporation, made to a member of the Nominating Committee….” Any member wishing to nominate a board member must email Charlotte Williams: lutton@prodigy.net before May 6, 2018.

Stu Kohn, President (Our new board member) asks you to Save the Date — Thursday, 3 May 2018

 What:     Howard County Citizens Association (HCCA) Annual Meeting And County Executive — Allan Kittleman’s Town Hall Meeting
Where: Bain Center – 5470 Ruth Keeton Way, Columbia, MD 21044
When: 6:15 PM Ledo’s Pizza will be served compliments of HCCA

7:00 HCCA Business Meeting

7:30 County Executive Town Hall Meeting

Guests: Steve Snelgrove — President Howard County General Hospital

Amy Gowan — Deputy Director of the Department of Planning and Zoning

Antigone Vickery — Deputy Health Officer, and

Kelly Kesler — Director, Howard County Local Health Improvement Coalition

Highland Post Office

The persistent efforts of member Steve Thomas have resulted in a relationship with our PO supervisor. Current issues they are working on include regular grass cutting, repair of siding, and return of Ms. Dawana Cooke as our Postmaster. Steve will keep us posted.

New Website

Please visit our completely re-designed site: GHCA Chuck Gait will continue to maintain it. Comments and suggestions are welcome: Chuck Gait — Check it out, and take advantage of Pay Pal to renew your membership with just a couple clicks or do it the old way below:

(Membership is $25.00 annually by calendar year)

Name:__________________________

Email:__________________________ (very important! Save postage, and keep informed)

Tel: ______________________________

Address (only if not on your check)

Make Your Check Payable to GHCA

Mail to GHCA, PO Box 235, Highland, MD 20777

 

April 2018 Newsletter

 

April 9, 2018                                                                                                                                                  Volume XV, Issue I

The Latest Happenings

 

Bears and ground hogs may hibernate, but GHCA does not. Even though you may not have seen or heard much from the leadership team through the winter, there has been much going on. We will share highlights with you here and provide details at our next membership meeting on Thursday, May 10 at St. Marks Church.

 

DPZ Meetings

Together with the leadership of Howard County Citizens Association (HCCA) and Concerned Citizens of Western Howard County (CCWHC) we have engaged with DPZ to highlight vital area initiatives, including:

  • Expansion of public sewer and water (PSA)
    • o PSA expansion is integral to the potential to develop the proposed senior living project proposed for Rt.108 in Clarksville
    • o For the project to go ahead the General Plan must be amended by the County Council
    • o Only minor expansions are allowed. 1440 units on 60 acres does not fit the definition of “minor”
    • o The site would need to be designated Tier 1 “Smart Growth” which is incompatible with RC designation. It opens the possibility of similar changes to contiguous properties for a potential domino drop of rezoning.
  • Business Rural (BR)
    • o A floating zone not addressed when BRX was put to rest last year. We are supporting 3 approaches to eliminate what may be the most egregious potential uses of this zone.
  • Zoning Enforcement
    • o After a member of the GHCA community was again harassed by a zoning inspector over-stepping authority, we brought to the attention of DPZ weaknesses in the system.   This has initiated a review of many aspects of the complaint and enforcement process. We expect improvements will be instituted.
  • Howard County Preservation Easements
    • o Original easements were agricultural only, with many prohibited uses. They are subject to zoning ordinances in place at the time of execution.
    • o Now amendments are allowed and easements are not tied to zoning existing at the time of execution, which is diluting the strength, and seemingly the intent, of preservation.
    • o We are requesting the County examine current easements to maintain the intent of Ag Pres. Future easements must be clear, enforceable and consistent.

 

Industrial Mulching

We attended and testified at legislative hearings regarding industrial mulching in our RR zone and further west in RC. We are strongly opposed to industrial scale mulching, as are all other citizens groups. Bad news is: measure passed without sufficient amendments to prohibit. Semi-good news is: the bill failed to meet legislative deadlines by a few hours. Talk about a cliff hanger!

ZRA-183, CB-21-2018 has been approved by the Planning Board. Council Hearings begin on April 16 at 7:00 PM. Be there, if you can. This bill allows industrial mulching and composting on RR and RC land.

Traffic Safety

Despite the serious accident of June 2017 and another in March when 2 vehicles collided at the Post Office exit, and GHCA’s appeal to HCP, no substantive action has been taken to address speeding through the crossroads. We continue to raise this issue and welcome member input and suggestions on how we may better be able to encourage the County to enhance safety at the Crossroads. Please share your thoughts with us.

 

May Meeting

On May 10, at St. Marks Church, we are working to bring together an array of speakers from County agencies, including the Police, the Office on Aging, Recycling, Parks and Rec and others. Are there any you would particularly like to hear from or about?

 

New Website

Please visit our completely re-designed site: GHCA Chuck Gait will continue to maintain it. Comments and suggestions are welcome: Chuck Gait — Check it out, and take advantage of Pay Pal to renew your membership with just a couple clicks or do it the old way below:

 

Name:__________________________

Email:__________________________ (very important! Save postage, and keep informed)

Tel: ______________________________

Address (only if not on your check)

 

Make Your Check Payable to GHCA

Mail to GHCA, PO Box 235, Highland, MD 20777

 

October 2017 Newsletter

Zoning Update and the Latest Happenings

GHCA leadership continued to be engaged in this process by participating with the leadership of HCCA and CCWHC in a meeting with DPZ and Clarion Associates on July 25th. We were able to highlight our initiatives to DPZ and the Clarion consultants hired to evaluate HC development regulations. Our agenda included:

  • Amend the cluster and DEO provisions to promote less-dense, well-designed, attractive subdivisions.
  • Amend the Conditional Use Process itself and the most troublesome conditional uses such as funeral homes, landscape contractors, and nursing homes.
  • Strongly object to and note the illegal PSA expansion in Fulton and Clarksville (200 Acres) in order to prevent any such last-minute subterfuge in the future.

GHCA attended and testified at the legislative hearings that appeared headed toward allowing industrial mulching in our RR Zone and the RC further west. Our position: “Industrial-scale mulching and composting production is an inappropriate use in rural, residential Howard County — PERIOD.” We pointed out that the DPZ in the previous hearing had floated a list of amendments/modifications that certainly should be adopted by Council. It appears that this issue has a good chance of being resolved positively and that the issue of weak zoning enforcement has been spot-lighted so that might be corrected as long as citizen insistence does not wane.

Erickson Senior Living: Early last summer, Erickson Senior Living hosted a well-attended informational meeting regarding their plan to develop Limestone Valley Farm, at 108 and Shephard Lane into one of their expanding roster of facilities. All reports indicate these are well-managed communities ad fill a need for our aging populace. However, anyone who travels this intersection knows how horrendous the traffic back-up can be here. Erickson is ready to devote considerable money, attention and engineering to this situation. But will it solve the problem or only add to it? We will be monitoring plans and will keep you apprised.

Speeding at the Crossroads Despite the serious accident of June 11 and our appeal to the HCP, No action yet. We will be following up to get the HCP focused where it will do the most to protect the Crossroads.

Hi-Land Farm Some will remember GHCA fought the illegal landscape contractor a few years ago, and supported Scott Shearer in fending off questionable list of zoning violations. All who know Scott, especially his neighbors, know him to be a model “farmer” and neighbor. A meeting attended by the heads of DPZ, the adjacent neighbors, HCCA, GHCA and other supporters resulted in the withdrawal of a second set of purported violations. Scott wishes to thank all his supporters, and we commend Director, Val Lazdins, Dep. Dir. Amy Gowan, and Geoff Goins, Chief of Enforcement for their prompt and fair resolution of the issue.

“Picnic in the Park” & Summer Concert?

Sorry to say, this was rained out — Maybe next year?

Those that responded shared in the leftover food. 

50 + Expo Explore preparedness, information and education as they relate to healthy aging at Howard County’s 19th annual 50+EXPO on Friday, October 20, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at Wilde Lake High School. Admission is $1 and free parking and shuttle transportation are available from the lower level Sears parking lot at The Columbia Mall.

This year’s 50+EXPO features over 160 vendors and exhibitors. Attendees to the 50+EXPO can take advantage of free flu vaccines and free health screenings at the onsite health fair. Back by popular demand, the Capitol Steps return to the Jim Rouse Theatre for one show at 11:00 a.m. Tickets are available while quantities last; a $5 donation is requested per ticket.

For more information and a full schedule of the day’s events, visit the website. https://www.howardcountymd.gov/50plusexpo.

New Website

Please visit our completely re-designed site: GHCA Chuck Gait will continue to maintain it. Comments and suggestions are welcome: Chuck Gait — Check it out, and take advantage of Pay Pal to renew your membership with just a couple clicks or do it the old way below:

 Membership Renewal Time: As is our custom, renewals or new memberships received After October 1st. are credited to the current and the coming year (2017 and 2018). We need to double our numbers and clout . Please join or rejoin GHCA.   The Membership is $25 for the calendar year. Now more than ever your participation and membership is needed to support the continued efforts of GHCA to represent your interests before Maryland/Howard County government, development interests, and community events.

Name:__________________________

Email:__________________________ (very important! Save postage, and keep informed)

Tel: ______________________________

Address (only if not on your check)

Make Your Check Payable to GHCA

Mail to GHCA, PO Box 235, Highland, MD 20777

July 2017 Newsletter

Zoning Update and the Latest Happenings

Business Rural Crossroads, (BRX): County Council voted unanimously to repeal BRX, and Alan Kittleman signed the bill immediately. It takes effect July 5, 2017. We thank Stu Kohn for the support of HCCA, Ted Mariani of CCWHC, and all those in  Highland  who joined in the effort to remove this potential threat to our community.

Review of Zoning and Development Regulations, Update: The phase I assessment continues as Clarion Associates gathers input from government and citizen sources. Last month DPZ reported over 500 comments received. GHCA leadership continues to be engaged in this process through periodic meetings with DPZ. You can participate by attending meetings on July 24 or 25 and by filling out the survey here: Howard County DPZ, Deadline is July 10 for survey.

Speeding at the Crossroads: Shortly after 8:00 pm on June 11 Garland Brian, traveling west on Highland Rd., was attempting a left turn into his driveway. Behind him a SUV was waiting. Speeding west on Highland Rd. a young man in a sedan approached. Rather than try to stop he passed the SUV just as Garland turned left. He bounced off Garland’s left front truck tire and hit the utility pole in front of the Brian property. The crash sounded like an explosion from1/4 mile away. His vehicle was totaled and power and cable lines were cut. Neighbor Sean Hefferon, reports that the car did a complete 180. All the air bags deployed saving the driver from serious injury. GHCA has previously requested that the HC Police enforce the 30 mph limit on this road and 35 mph on 108. No action yet. Maybe now?

Thanks to Terri Westerlund for the hundreds of flags planted in the Highland area. She makes it easy for us to display our patriotism. Happy Birthday, Terri!

Picnic in the Park & Summer Concert

Schooley Mill Park, Hall Shop Road, Highland

Friday, July 28, 2017

GHCA Members’ Picnic: starts at 6:00 PM in the Community Room **

HC Rec & Parks’ Concert is 7:00 – 8:30 PM

featuring

"Panama Rex" band

The Panama Rex Band leaves audiences inspired by their rhythmic grooves that often cross genre boundaries. Its all about the "jam band". A combination of the drums, phenomenal slide guitar, precision of a seasoned jazz saxophone, the crafted bass lines, and the passion of an inspired vocalist/guitar player, create a sound that doesn’t have people describing it as "Jimmy Buffett" but as " The Ultimate Jam Buffet Band "

Details to follow soon

Membership Special Appeal: I ask every current member to bring at least one neighbor to our next meeting and to join; we need double our numbers and clout in 2017. Please join or rejoin GHCA. The Membership is $25 for the calendar year. Now more than ever your participation and membership is needed to support the continued efforts of GHCA to represent your interests before Maryland/Howard County government, development interests, and community events.

To join GHCA, click here.

April 2017 Newsletter

Zoning Update and the Latest Happenings

Business Rural Crossroads, (BRX) A public Council hearing to repeal BRX will be held April 19 at 7:00. The DPZ, the Planning Board recommend repeal. Council Members Fox and Sigaty sponsored the bill. We expect approval. TestimonyBRX170419 sent to Council. We encourage you to email in support and attend the hearing if possible: 3430 Court House Drive
Ellicott City, MD 21043

DPZ announces Review of Zoning and Development Regulations

"Howard County Planning and Zoning (DPZ) has begun a Development Regulation Assessment, to include review of the zoning code, as well as regulations, policies and manuals related to land development.  The project will occur in two phases: phase I is an assessment of the development regulations and phase II is the drafting of a new unified development code or sets of codes. Clarion Associates, a national land use-consulting firm based in Denver, has been retained as the county’s consultant for phase I of this project. Clarion will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the current regulations and provide an outline for new zoning, subdivision, and land development regulations based on public and stakeholder input, technical analysis, and national best practices."

GHCA leadership will be engaged in this process, and has already made contact with Don Elliot, Director of the project. It is expected that Phase 1 will take 12-14 months.

Pre-submission Meeting: April 24 at 6:00pm at River Hill Community Center, Clarksville. The sign appears to be at 12064 Hall Shop Rd. Proposed BR (Business Rural) zone by Mt. Airy Paving. Contact: Thomas Meachum, Atty. 410-740-4600. Contractor equipment and storage is a permitted use.

GHCA Picnic Mark your calendar!  Friday, July 28 is the date for this year’s concert at Schooley Mill Park and the GHCA barbecue picnic and pot-luck supper.  We look forward to seeing your families there for this evening of good food, great music and community fellowship.  Details will follow.

Membership Special Appeal: I ask every current member to bring at least one neighbor to our next meeting and to join; we need double our numbers and clout in 2017.  Please join or rejoin GHCA.   The Membership is $25 for the calendar year.  Now more than ever your participation and membership is needed to support the continued efforts of GHCA to represent your interests before Maryland/Howard County government, development interests, and community events.

January 2017 Newsletter

Welcome to a new year and the latest news from GHCA and the Crossroads.
Let’s take a look back at Association Highlights from 2016:

  • Working with Boarmans’ management, the solar panels received an evergreen screening along Highland RD. May they live long and prosper!
  • By working with the USPS we now have a permanent Postmaster, Ms Cooke.  Have you noticed how great our post office is looking?
  • After years of meetings, petitions, letters, more meetings, workshops and even some legal maneuvers, the dreaded BRX was placed in moratorium and will removed from Highland and the Howard County master plan in 2017. (See more details below.)

Now, looking ahead to 2017, the GHCA initiatives include:

  • Plans to work with the County to amend BR zoning.
  • Vigilance to guard against zoning violations in the community – please alert us to ones we may be unaware of. As we go to press, round two of our efforts to correct one in the Heart of Highland is getting under way. We are impressed with the support and professionalism we are receiving from the Val Lazdin team at DPZ.
  • Addressing the future of the Highland Day festival. We need member input.  Please take a few minutes to complete the attached questionnaire and return via email.

Thank You, Hidden Treasures!

Our meeting on October 13 was devoted to introducing members to a few of the Hidden Treasures of the Highland Area.  We want to again thank:

  • Al and Mae Pong, Pongs’ Orchard,
  • John Lehman, Lehman Associates PD (architects)
  • Jared Gulliford, Earth First Gardens and Green Farmacy Garden.

It was interesting and informative to learn of these rare endeavors thriving under our noses.  We are on the hunt for more treasures to amaze and delight you with at a meeting in 2017.

What’s Next for Highland Day?

We’ve heard directly, and via the grapevine, many missed our festive fall gathering, Highland Day.  As some are aware, the event went on hiatus for 2016 for several reasons, including: the dissolution of the managing organization, HBA, limits on parking, liability insurance issues and safety concerns.  There is much to like about this community tradition, but also tremendous effort and devotion required to produce it.  Should it come back, perhaps re-imagined to accommodate changing conditions? Or should we move on to other opportunities?  The event belongs to the community, so please tell on what you would like and how you might be able to bring Highland Day back to life. To make it as easy as possible, please complete the attached questionnaire in WORD and return it attached to email by January 30.  We will report results in a future email.