The future of transportation is “Complete Streets”

Transportation has been in the news a lot lately. Governor Hogan announced his intention to spend $9 billion on a massive highway project. Howard County is holding public hearings on how to upgrade our public transit system. Columbia Association just held its annual BikeAbout. And Horizon Foundation is holding its Open Streets event Sunday October 1st.

We need to think of these aspects of transportation as an integrated whole or else we’ll waste a lot of money without fully supporting our community needs. Contrary to Governor Hogan’s approach, Howard County has committed to a “Complete Streets” policy, and the Open Streets event will demonstrate what that is.  Here I attempt to make sense of it all.

Governor Hogan announces widening of I-270, Capital Beltway (I-495), and Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD 295)

Annapolis MD, Sept 21, 2017

Delivering on his commitment to provide innovative transportation solutions for Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan today announced the administration’s plans to add four new lanes to I-270, the Capital Beltway (I-495), and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD 295).

Baltimore-Washington Parkway (National Park Service – click on photo for source)

“These three massive, unprecedented projects to widen I-495, I-270, and MD 295 will be absolutely transformative, and they will help Maryland citizens go about their daily lives in a more efficient and safer manner,” said Governor Hogan. “Today, we are turning Maryland’s celebrated innovation into real action. These projects will substantially and dramatically improve our state highway system and traffic in the region.”

Howard regional transit public meetings continue

by Kate Magill (Howard County Times) Sept 14, 2007

The Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland and Maryland Transit Administration hosted the second of four public meetings Wednesday night about the upcoming transit development plan, meant to upgrade the public transit system in Howard, Anne Arundel and parts of Prince George’s counties.

The plan aims to address residents’ woes about issues such as lengthy wait times for service and indirect routes. . . . Some of the changes residents said they most wanted included increased weekend service and more frequent bus service throughout the day.

[Officials] hope to put the plan before the Howard County Council for approval by the end of the year . . . .  However, the council’s approval of the plan does not guarantee that it will be funded.





from Caltrans “Complete Streets Elements Toolbox” (click on photo for source)
from Caltrans Complete Streets Elements Toolbox (click on photo for source)
from the city of Gardner, Massachusetts (click on photo for source)

Howard County Complete Streets Policy – October 2016

“To ensure that Howard County is a place for individuals of all backgrounds to live and travel freely, safely, and comfortably, public and private roadways in Howard County shall be safe and convenient for residents of all ages and abilities who travel by foot, bicycle, public transportation or automobile, ensuring sustainable communities Countywide.” – Allan H. Kittleman, Howard County Executive, Council Resolution 35-2016.

The County shall approach every transportation improvement and project phase as an opportunity to create safer, more accessible streets for all users of all ages and abilities, including people who walk, bike, take the bus, and drive cars and trucks. These phases include, but are not limited to: planning, programming, design, right-of-way acquisition, subdivision and land development, new construction, construction engineering, reconstruction, operation, repair, and maintenance. This applies to both new and retrofit projects.

Examples of Complete Streets in Howard County


Design for Centennial Lane that was implemented June 2017 (by Howard County Government)

Says Chris Eatough, Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator, Office of Transportation, Howard County Government:

“Centennial Lane is a good example, and the improvements were made recently.  Buffered bike lanes and a new marked crosswalk with pedestrian refuge island near Centennial Elementary School. The crosswalk makes crossing the road much more comfortable and has created a much improved community feel, with many more people out and about on foot and on bike.”

Centennial Lane at Breconshire Road (photo by Chris Eatough, Howard County Government)
by Howard County Government


Columbia Multi-Use Pathway, Little Patuxent Parkway (photo by Downtown Columbia Partnership – click photo for source)

Says Chris Eatough, Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator, Office of Transportation, Howard County Government:

“Another example is Little Patuxent Parkway in Downtown Columbia. The big improvement there is the new shared use pathway, which runs from Howard County General Hospital to Blandair Park. Much of it is parallel to Little Patuxent Parkway, changing what was previously an auto orientated area to what is now a pleasant, comfortable, and convenient route for walking and biking.”


Old Stockbridge Drive at Falling Leaves Court, Waterloo (photo by Chris Eatough, Howard County Government)

Says Chris Eatough, Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator, Office of Transportation, Howard County Government:

“This is a street that works well for everyone. Wide, well maintained sidewalks on both sides with grass buffers between the sidewalk and the road. Bike lanes on each side of the road. Marked crosswalks with bump outs to calm traffic, shorten the crossing distance, and improve visibility of pedestrians crossing.”

Learn more at the Open Streets event — Sunday Oct. 1st, 11 am – 3 pm

Bring your bikes and walking shoes and see how better street design can make getting around easier, safer and more comfortable for everyone at the Open Streets Howard County event on Sunday Oct. 1 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting at Dunloggin Middle School and Northfield Elementary School, extending to Dorsey Hall Pool and the Dorsey’s Search Village Center. Sponsored by the Horizon Foundation, the event will include action-packed stops with bicycle and pedestrian facility demos, food trucks, kids’ activities and more.

Featured image at top of post

My thanks to Chris Eatough, Howard County Office of Transportation, for his assistance with this blog post.


Howard County is a bicycling community – Join the fun!

As temperatures cool, more and more people are bicycling, for fun, exercise, and basic transportation. Howard County provides numerous opportunities to join the movement. There are several events coming up in the next few weeks and organizations that are devoted to cycling. Our transportation infrastructure is changing to support a more walkable and bikeable community. Bicycles are now available on demand for short trips around Columbia.

Come join the fun. There are no excuses not to.

Columbia Bikeabout — Saturday Sept. 23rd

Columbia Association’s (CA) annual BikeAbout will be held Saturday, Sept. 23rd, with riders setting off from the dock at Lake Elkhorn. The free, fun and informative tour presents Columbia’s history and showcases the connectivity of its pathway system.

This year’s route is 10 miles long and winds through the villages of Owen Brown, Oakland Mills and Long Reach. In celebration of Columbia’s 50th Birthday, the theme of this year’s BikeAbout is “Appreciate the past and imagine the future.” To accommodate families with young children, a shorter ride is available around Lake Elkhorn with enjoyable activities and fun facts about Columbia.

Howard County Bikeshare

Howard County Bikeshare is public transportation on your schedule. Grab a bike, go for a ride, give it back. . . . Launched in 2017, the Howard County Bikeshare system offers electric-assist bicycles to their users. It’s easy, fun and comfortable. Howard County becomes a leader in active transportation by offering both electric-assist and traditional options for residents and visitors to explore the region. Howard County Bikeshare is available 24/7 and is perfect for errands, commuting, or recreation.

Bikeshare Program

Going for a ride is simple – with a network of 7 stations and 70 bikes, riders can register for a Yearly, Monthly and Go Pass on the website (Go Pass also available on the app), or for a Single-trip at a station kiosk and start riding within minutes. Try one out today!

Open Streets event — Sunday Oct. 1st

Bring your bikes and walking shoes and see how better street design can make getting around easier, safer and more comfortable for everyone at the Open Streets Howard County event on Sunday Oct. 1 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting at Dunloggin Middle School and Northfield Elementary School, extending to Dorsey Hall Pool and the Dorsey’s Search Village Center. Sponsored by the Horizon Foundation, the event will include action-packed stops with bicycle and pedestrian facility demos, food trucks, kids’ activities and more.

Open Streets Howard County

Open Streets Howard County is an initiative of the Horizon Foundation that seeks to promote a more bikeable and walkable community where everyone can safely and easily travel by bike or on foot.  Open Streets Howard County starts with the simple and proven idea that the design of our streets and neighborhoods should support and promote healthy living. Residents of communities that are built to encourage walking and cycling typically enjoy improved health outcomes, as well as many other benefits.

Nearly half of adults in the United States fail to meet the recommended amount of physical activity. But people living in areas with safe, comfortable, healthy transportation options — like bike lanes and sidewalks — are far more likely to meet those guidelines. Reimagining our roads as “complete streets” that accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and drivers will help us more easily integrate walking, biking and other healthy transportation choices into our daily lives.

Cycle to Health, Howard County Office on Aging and Independence

Cycle2Health Howard County is a non-competitive, peer-led, bicycling club for adults of all ages and riding abilities, coordinated by the Health & Wellness Division of the Howard County Office on Aging and Independence (OAI).  You must register to participate.

Rides take place during the week and on some weekends, during daytime hours, and depart from various locations in and around Howard County.  Rides depart in the morning, with the exact departure time varying by route and season. To provide an opportunity for safe and enjoyable riding for all C2H participants, three to four different level rides are offered each week throughout the riding season:

  • Casual rides are rides of less than 12 miles on relatively flat terrain at a relaxed pace. These rides are on pathways, trails or quiet residential streets with frequent re-grouping.
  • Moderate rides are rides of less than 20 miles at 10-12 MPH with some moderate short hills and maybe a longer hill.  Moderate riders should be comfortable riding in some traffic and should know basic group riding etiquette.
  • Moderate-Advanced rides are rides of 16-25 miles at 11.5-13 MPH, depending on the climb rate (slightly slower than the advanced rides). They include some moderate short hills and some moderate to steep grades. Riders should be comfortable riding with traffic and knowledgeable of group riding etiquette.
  • Advanced rides are rides of over 20 miles at 13-15 MPH and will include moderate to steep hills with limited rest stops. Riders should be aware of their riding ability and limitations before participating in an advanced ride.

Cue sheets will be made available in advance of the ride and riders are encouraged to drive the route to determine if the route is appropriate for them. Riders just getting back to riding or those who haven’t had experience riding in a group venue are encouraged to start with the Casual Ride group.

Bicycling Advocates of Howard County 9th Annual Bike HoCo/All-Club Ride — Saturday October 7th

Time again to join other Howard County bicyclists and cycling clubs on BAHC’s 9th Annual Bike HoCo (All-Club) Ride. Enjoy a GREAT Fall ride (63/45/34/26 mile routes) and post-ride social (beer/soft drinks). Start location will be at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory adjacent to the softball field on Sanner Road; check-in starts at 8:30am.

The Bicycling Advocates of Howard County (Bike HoCo) is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization founded in 2008 as a coalition of cycling clubs and bicycle riders in Howard County, Maryland. Bike HoCo advocates to improve the visibility and safety of bicycling, supports bicycling education programs for adults and children, and promotes a vision of bicycling and sharing the road as part of a healthy, energy efficient, and environmentally sound transportation system to help achieve a sustainable future for Howard County and for Maryland.

Howard County Bicycle Master Plan

In April of 2016, Howard County adopted its first Bicycle Master Plan. The Bicycle Master Plan provides guidance for both transportation and recreational bicycling, both on-street and off-street. Recommendations are provided in the general areas of infrastructure improvements, policy and programs.

Goals and objectives are:

  • Identify and develop countywide system of bicycle facilities to foster connectivity within and between the following: villages, communities and neighborhoods throughout the County, as well as neighboring cities and counties, parks and recreation centers, schools and educational institutions, commercial and employment centers, and regional and local transit facilities.
  • Facilitate recreational and transportation trips by bicycle in the County and improve safety for all types of bicyclists.
  • Recommend County policies that will support bicycling, including bikeway facility design.
  • Build public support for implementation of the Plan.

The approved version of Bike Howard is presented below. You can view the Plan on-line, print it or download it. You can magnify and zoom in on the detail in the maps and the Plan by using your mouse wheel with the PDF menus View/Zoom and then Dynamic Zoom.

Columbia Recognized As “Bicycle Friendly Community”

The community of Columbia, Maryland, has been recognized by the League of American Bicyclists with a bronze Bicycle Friendly Community award, joining more than 370 other visionary communities that are transforming our neighborhoods in all 50 states.

This bronze award recognizes the commitment by Columbia Association, the Howard County Government and other community stakeholders to improving conditions for people who bicycle through investments in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.

A report card issued by the League of American Bicyclists recognized the community’s miles of bicycle networks, bike-to-work events, an active bicycle advocacy group and advisory committee, bicycle-friendly laws and ordinances, committed bike program staff and an up-to-date bike plan that is in the process of being implemented.

The improvements that have already come out of these master plans include new on- and off-road bike lanes and pathways, the addition of wayfinding signage, expanded educational and safety programs, a dedicated police pathway patrol squad, the widening of highly used pathways to 10 feet to increase comfort for all users, and a smartphone app for Columbia pathway routes.

Featured Image at top of the post

Bicycle rush hour in Copenhagen, where 37% of the population ride their bikes each day (by Mikael Colville-Andersen)

How government and nonprofit services came to be in HoCo

Forty-six years ago, as rural Howard County was being inundated by Columbia, a three-day charrette was held to consider what human service needs should be addressed by government and nonprofit organizations. Organized by the Association of Community Services and Howard Community College, the charrette was attended by some 335 people, including citizens, providers, community leaders, new Countians and old Countians. 

They overcame distrust, suspicions and competing interests to reach consensus on a report that is excerpted here. Many ideas were visionary, others just practical, some misguided. The goals they outlined are a measure of how far we’ve come in nearly half a century, and point to what more we have to do to create the city and county that James Rouse envisioned  – a place that provides for the growth of people.

It all started with James Rouse

In 1969, James Rouse created the Columbia Foundation [now the Community Foundation of Howard County] the first community foundation in the state of Maryland.  He and members of the founding board had the prescience to realize that the new town of Columbia would continue to grow and attract new residents and would have pressing needs for decades to come.

[James Rouse stated], “We have always envisaged bringing into being the coordinating leadership, on a continuing basis, to overlook the quality of life of the city; assert entrepreneurial initiative to bring into being new institutions as required; encourage existing institutions to spread their services to areas not covered or avoid unnecessary duplications”.

[In] 1971, the Foundation awarded its first grant to the Association of Community Services of Howard County to “explore human services needs and possible approaches.”

The Howard County Human Services Community Action Seminar (October 1970 – December, 1971) [EXCERPTS]

by Richard E. Dewey (Editor)for Howard County Association of Community Services and Howard Community College. Partially funded through Program Impact Title I of the Higher Education of Act of 1965 as well as grants from The Columbia Foundation and the Office of Health Care Programs of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. 

Purposes and Goals of the Seminar

Howard County, Maryland faces demographic, social, economic and political strains in the years ahead that are unmatched, perhaps, anywhere in the nation. Until a few years ago, Howard County was exclusively rural in character. . . . Then, within the decade of the sixties, the spiraling increase in land value of the corridor between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. caught up Howard County and attracted the developers of a “new town” they called columbia [sic]. Suddenly, Howard County faced the 1980 prospect of a city of 110,000 in the heart of its pastoral tranquility.

Invitation to the Community Action Seminar, November 19-21, 1971 (compliments of Columbia Archives)

To measure the impact of such an eventuality, one has only to consider the rate of growth involved. At the time of the Seminar, which prompts this report, and only four years after [Columbia’s] founding, there were 16,000 people living in Columbia and 67,000 in the county as a whole. Twelve thousand more residents will pour into columbia this coming year.

How does a rural county absorb that sort of influx? What strains does it impose? What problems does it create? In November of 1970 a small group of County residents began to hold living room discussions aimed at exploring the needs for new and better human services in a growing Howard County. From the beginning, it was clear that the way selected to approach the county’s needs was through a seminar or charrette situation. Consequently, as early as May, 1971 it was possible to outline the goals for such a weekend program as being:

  • To define the meaning of human resources and social services in Howard County.
  • To investigate and inventory the needs of Howard County population for such services.
  • To develop an integrated delivery system to provide such services.
  • To design the evaluation instrument to measure success.
  • Proposed attendees will include representatives from approximately thirty county social service agencies and private organizations, the County Government, educational agencies, and representatives of the so-called “consumers” of Howard County.
Invitation to the Community Action Seminar, November 19-21, 1971 (compliments of Columbia Archives)
Planning for the seminar

Any explanation of the Seminar itself, and the careful planning that led to it, must first make clear three tangential conditions which greatly influenced the shaping of the Seminar.  The first was a universally accepted sense of tension – a dangerous mixture of distrust, misunderstanding and arrogance – existing between the residents of the new town and the residents of the County. No matter what area of concern one investigated, the breech was always there.

From Report of the Howard County Human Services Community Action Seminar, January 15, 1972 (compliments of Columbia Archives)

The second condition was the fresh memory in many minds of a similar charrette conducted in Columbia in January, 1970 [one devoted to higher education]. The successes and failures of that previous experience in many ways shaped the Human Services Seminar.  The third condition was the timing imposed upon the Seminar . . . that several other concurrent events would be stimulated or improved only if planners adhered to the [November] date.

Human Service Needs of Howard County

Advocacy Task Force

Because of the wide dispersion of services available in Howard County and because of the lack of knowledge about these services, it is advised that an advocacy system be established which would incorporate the concept of “ombudsman.”

  • To convene a mini-seminar in each voting district of the County by January 31, 1972. These to serve as two-way communication between Seminar and consumers.
  • To establish a county ombudsman, or advocate with satellite offices.
  • To develop a 24-hour information and referral exchange.
From Report of the Howard County Human Services Community Action Seminar, January 15, 1972 (compliments of Columbia Archives)
Aging Task Force

At the present there is no provision for the housing or care of the elderly — be it boarding, nursing, residential, or otherwise. This has substantially reduced the aged population in Howard County, because anyone requiring one of these facilities must be accommodated outside the County. The point was made that if Howard County carried its proper responsibility for its elderly, it would not only benefit the residents requiring this care – not to speak of their families – but remove an unfair burden on surrounding counties.

  • To develop barrier free, ground level access, to all public buildings, particularly those which provide services to the aging.
  • To develop a shopper service for homebound elderly and/or a mobile store.
  • To develop a special information booklet for the elderly of Howard County.
  • To assist in the creation of a residential environment especially designed for the non self-sufficient resident.
  • To promote special transportation arrangements for the elderly.
  • To provide foster homes for the elderly.
Community Mental Health Task Force

Community mental health services within Howard County have been of a limited nature in the past. There has not been established a community mental health system delivering comprehensive services as outlined under the various Federal guidelines resulting from the Community Mental Health Centers Acts of 1965 and 1963.

Services have essentially been limited to outpatient clinics set up by the health department, and some consultative communications (indirect services) between the mental health clinic staff and staffs of the Public Health Nursing Section and the Department of Education.

  • To provide education programs in the public schools and elsewhere on sex instruction, drug abuse, and family life
  • To promote the establishment of:
    • Halfway houses for runaways
    • Quarterway houses for alcoholics
    • Detoxification and rehabilitation center
    • Family Counselling and Psychiatric care programs
Education Task Force

The general consensus of the group was that no area of need in education was not already being studied or dealt with by some other group within the County.

  • Create a continuing program to train students to serve in student and community government, specifically the County School Board.
  • Create a Black Studies Program for all levels of education in the County.  Increase the number of black teachers to a level commensurate with the County’s black population ratio.
  • Institute programs for the building of skills in human relations, communication and personal growth skills for students and teachers.
  • Make County schools into Community Centers for day long and year round use.
  • Promote the use of non-certified by technically qualified persons as teaching resources.
From Report of the Howard County Human Services Community Action Seminar, January 15, 1972 (compliments of Columbia Archives)
Employment and Poverty Task Force
  • To link vocation education in the county with available and potential job opportunities.
  • To assist a change in local employment practices making them more flexible.
  • To promote among local businesses a more positive attitude towards the hiring and promotion of blacks, women and minorities.
  • To discover and extend more local alternatives in career opportunities for blacks, women and minority groups.
Health and Handicapped Task-Force
  • Develop a sheltered workshop for handicapped in Howard County
  • Provide a more relevant education program for handicapped children within Howard County School System
  • Create a General Hospital for Howard County
  • Attract more physicians to the County
  • Train teachers to relate better to handicapped children
  • Establish program of adequate health care for all regardless of income
  • Change laws to allow physicians to practice in homes and commercial offices
  • Create a barrier-free environment for the handicapped
From Report of the Howard County Human Services Community Action Seminar, January 15, 1972 (compliments of Columbia Archives)
Housing Task Force

The Housing Task Force shared a deep concern about existing substandard housing in Howard County; Complete lack of availability of housing options for low income families; No opportunity for purchase of new housing any where in Howard County for families with incomes below $9,672 for townhouses and $10,152 for a single family dwelling; Limited numbers of subsidized units in the county:

  • To develop a Public Housing Authority in Howard County to provide housing for low income families.
  • Take whatever steps are necessary to obtain rent supplements for low income families.
  • County Council to amend laws to allow for more low cost, low income housing opportunities consistent with metropolitan population.
Transportation Task Force

The lack of a public transportation system in Howard County is a serious handicap to many residents, especially the elderly, the disabled and the poor. Many Howard County residents live in rural areas far from major thoroughfares and lacking the use of a private car and have very limited access to employment, goods and services.

Of equal importance is the fact that the absence of a public transportation system has an adverse effect on the environment. The ever increasing number of singly occupied cars causes further congestion of roads and parking space as well as an increase in the accident rate and in pollution.

From Report of the Howard County Human Services Community Action Seminar, January 15, 1972 (compliments of Columbia Archives)

It should be the responsibility of government to provide for a transportation system which is flexible, multi-faceted, and accessible to everyone. In order to achieve success financially and ecologically, a mass transit system must be convenient and economical for the passengers so that the use of private cars will become less desirable and less practical.

  • To develop a public transportation system easily accessible to all Howard Countians 24 hours a day.
  • Include transportation needs in the General Plan for Howard County
  • Illustrate to County officials that County progress is impeded because the lack of mass transit results in excessive transportation costs for local agencies, businesses and individuals.
  • Publicize the problems and some of the possible solutions.
Youth Task Force

The area of youth covers such a wide span of concerns only the issues which we felt were of the greatest importance were discussed in depth. As a result of our group discussions, we reached these conclusions:

  • Create a County-wide youth advisory commission to assist all governmental units in matters regarding young people.
  • Get more youth representatives on County boards and commissions.
  • Involve more youth in Friendship Exchange programs.
  • Create more recreation opportunities for young people in the County.
  • Eliminate restraints on smoking in the high schools.

Excerpts from the Report of the Howard County Human Services Community Action Seminar, January 15, 1972 (from Columbia Archives)

And what was the view in 2009?

Howard County’s Human Services Master Plan (HSMP) was developed through a partnership of the Department of Citizen Services and the Association of Community Services, with participation from a broad range of organizations and community members. Organized by population group, and covering a wide spectrum of human service issues, the HSMP outlines our community’s aspirations for its residents.

Individuals and families:
  • Are able to meet their basic needs
Children, youth, and families:
  • Are healthy
  • Children enter school ready to learn
  • Children and youth are successful in school
  • Children, youth and families are safe in their homes and communities
Older adults:
  • Maintain optimal mental and physical health
  • Engage in the life of the community
  • Live as independently as possible
  • Are safe in their homes and communities
People living with disabilities:
  • Enjoy the same opportunities as others
  • Have meaningful opportunities for education and employment
  • Are safe in their homes and communities

Does Columbia still believe in Affordable Housing?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development states that housing is affordable if it costs no more than 30% of family income. Affordable housing for all economic groups is a bedrock principal in Columbia. Nonetheless, the three newest apartments in Columbia – – Alta Wilde Lake, The Metropolitan, and Lakehouse (Little Patuxent Square) — are all Class A or “luxury” apartments. This is evident by the ways the apartments describe themselves, and it’s easy to see by their starting rents that they are unaffordable to the secretaries, sales associates, builders, maintenance workers, cooks and waiters that make it all happen. 

The Downtown Columbia Plan anticipates construction of 6,250 residential units that will be priced however the market will bear. The February agreement by the County and Howard Hughes Corporation requires there be 900 affordable apartments built downtown, but advocates say only about 500 units will create new family opportunities; 400 units duplicate what is already available in other Columbia Villages. And we’re further increasing the stock of high-rent apartments with Kimco’s proposal of “luxury” apartments at Hickory Ridge Village Center. Continue reading Does Columbia still believe in Affordable Housing?

Columbia Lakefront Design Guidelines being considered by Design Advisory Panel

As stated in the Downtown-wide Design Guidelines, the vision for the Lakefront Core Neighborhood is to bring community life and activity back to the water’s edge. Lakefront Core should be a lively, walkable neighborhood connected and oriented to Lake Kittamaqundi. The existing Lakefront Plaza amenity space shall retain its identity as an important historic and symbolic gathering place in Columbia. Iconic sculptures such as the People Tree and The Hug are landmarks in the community and should be retained within the Lakefront area.

One of the objectives for the development of Downtown Columbia is to create a vibrant, walkable, and economically sustainable community in which to live, work, and play, by creating dense and compact mixed-use neighborhoods. A
sustainable neighborhood should create an urban ecology through an integrated green infrastructure network that includes trees, vegetation, and amenity spaces.

Design Advisory Panel

by Russ Swatek, Howard County Citizens Association

The Design Advisory Panel (DAP) is meeting in the Ellicott Room on Wednesday June 14, 2017 7pm at the County offices to address the Howard Hughes Corp (HHC) newly proposed Columbia Lakefront Core Neighborhood Design Guidelines.

Passing these proposed Guidelines past the DAP is just the first part of their journey to the Planning Board and on up the chain to eventual approval/ disapproval. The DAP recommendation of approval/disapproval will go along with it and be considered by future entities in their deliberations of the proposal.

  1. These proposed Guidelines are intended to be a total replacement of the existing Columbia Downtown wide Design Guidelines for the Lakefront Core Neighborhood.
  2. The footprint of the Lakefront Core Neighborhood is proposed to be expanded to include the current American City building with its parking lot and the Copeland restaurant/parking structure areas.
  3. The maximum allowable building heights for the additional areas proposed to be included in the Neighborhood are to be raised from 9 stories to 15 stories. This new area is on the east side of Little Patuxent Parkway.
  4. The Wincopin Circle street is proposed to be extended southward from its current location to run between the current American City building with its parking lot and the Hug Statue / Columbia Association Lake Kittamaqundi amphitheater area and then on past Whole Foods.


Plans for Columbia Lakefront Core Neighborhood

The Lakefront Core Neighborhood, surrounded by the larger Lakefront Neighborhood, is located between Lake Kittamaquandi and Little Patuxent Parkway and is bounded by Wincopin Circle to the north and the access drive to
Whole Foods/ former Rouse Company Headquarters to the south.


Lakefront Core Neighborhood – Connectivity

The Lakefront area has been isolated from other areas of Downtown Columbia due to the design of Little Patuxent Parkway and topography. The Downtown Columbia Plan proposes three new amenity space corridors extending east
to west that will enhance connectivity between the lake and other downtown destinations.

Lakefront Core Neighborhood Active Frontage Plan

As described in the Downtown Columbia Design Guidelines, Lakefront Core is envisioned as a lively, walkable neighborhood connected and oriented to Lake Kittamaqundi where residences, offices, shops and restaurants as well as entertainment, civic, and cultural uses are all integrated.

Lakefront Core Neighborhood Building Height Plan

In character with this vision, buildings range from 1 to 15 stories in height with shared parking facilities and parking facilities integrated either wholly or partially within individual buildings.

Amenity Space, Downtown Columbia

Open spaces, such as plazas, promenades, and greens, are incorporated within the neighborhood, providing connections back to other Downtown destinations and views to the lake. Natural areas flank and buffer the lake, providing trails and shared-use paths that connect to a larger pedestrian and bicycle network.

More info and share your opinion

by Russ Swatek, Howard County Citizens Association

The Design Advisory Panel (DAP) is meeting in the Ellicott Room on Wednesday June 14, 2017 7pm at the County offices to address the Howard Hughes Corp (HHC) newly proposed Columbia Lakefront Core Neighborhood Design Guidelines.

The newly proposed Design Guidelines are at:

The DAP agenda can be found at:

If you have any thoughts about these proposals, then please submit them to the DAP.  The DAP does not take public testimony at their meetings, but written input can be provided in advance of their meetings by using their web input form at:

or by emailing your comments to:

Note that any comments should be there before Tuesday night so the DAP members have a chance to read them prior to their meeting.

Which version of the Hickory Ridge Village Center is likely to survive?

The Howard County Design Advisory Committee (DAP) is reviewing Kimco’s revised plan for the Hickory Ridge Village Center on Wednesday, February 8th.  Their decision may very well determine whether the Village Center survives. Moreover, it’s a decision that will affect all of Columbia and whether our city will take the steps to become truly sustainable.

There is considerable community opposition to adding apartments to the Village Center.  Many residents of Hickory Ridge feel just as strongly that the higher density is essential to the Center’s future viability.  It is a struggle that has occurred in Columbia before and is likely to continue. I support the following perspective, and it applies to other Village Centers as well.

Dear members of the Design Advisory Panel,

I represent a citizens’ action group of Hickory Ridge residents recently formed to help ensure a viable Hickory Ridge village center, one that would be designed for the 21st century.  Our group, Citizens in favor of a Vibrant Village Center (CIVVC), believes that Kimco’s revised plan for the village center offers the best hope of creating a flourishing village center 10 years from now.

We also think Kimco’s revised plan responds appropriately to the DAP’s suggestions at its last meeting. Here’s why:

Continue reading Which version of the Hickory Ridge Village Center is likely to survive?