Three Ways to Have an Impact on Hickory Ridge Village Center’s Redevelopment

By Joan Lancos, Land Use Liaison and Jessamine Duvall, Village Manager

In 2009, the Howard County Council passed a bill which laid out the many steps required in order for the owner of a Columbia village center to redevelop.  The process includes many opportunities for community input.  One of the most important pieces of the process is for each village to develop a Village Center Community Plan.  Though a series of public meetings held over sixteen months, Hickory Ridge developed its VCCP which was approved by the Village Board in 2011.

In December of 2015, Kimco Realty formally notified the Hickory Ridge Village Board of its Intent to Redevelop.  That notification triggered the process laid out in CB 29-2009 and described in Section 125.J of the Howard County Zoning Regulations.  Fortunately, the village already has its Village Center Community Plan, which provides a community vision to help evaluate the appropriateness of the plans presented by Kimco.

At the March 23, 2016 Pre-Submission Meeting, an interested village resident handed out several documents which WERE NOT PROVIDED BY THE VILLAGE or by the developer.

These handouts were confusing to the participants at the meeting, as some attendees seemed to think that the handouts are part of the official process.  The Charrette process described in the handout is NOT part of the county requirements for redevelopment.  However, the process that developed our Village Center Community Plan was similar to the charrette process, in that a plan was developed over many months of meetings and consideration of various options.  Kimco is required to consider our Village Center Community Plan as they develop their plans for the village center.

The two post cards with comments on the back are also problematic.  One is addressed to a staff member in the Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ).  DPZ has not yet received any plan from Kimco.  Once a plan is submitted, DPZ must review the plan objectively based on specific criteria related to zoning and subdivision regulations and Howard County Code.  The concerns listed on the comment card will be considered only as they relate to these regulations.  The second post card was addressed to County Council Member Mary Kay Sigaty, who represents our village.  The elected County Council sits as the Zoning Board and will make the final decision on whether the project can go forward.  This is a quasi-judicial process.  Rules of Procedure of the Zoning Board (Section 2.402G) specifically prohibit ex parte (out of the meeting) testimony on any case that comes before it.   Therefore, Council Member Sigaty will not be able to see the post cards unless they are presented to her at the zoning hearing for the plan, which may not occur for 18-24 months.

The Hickory Ridge Community Association encourages resident participation and input in this process.  Community participation is a required part of the County’s redevelopment process, and this input can have a real influence on the final project design that Kimco submits for County approval. Here’s how to make your voice heard:

  1. Sign up to attend one of the small group meetings Kimco is holding by contacting
  2. Visit our village website for links to the Village Center Community Plan, Zoning Regulations, the Columbia Village Centers Market Study, or to comment directly to the Village Board regarding your thoughts, issues, or concerns about the proposed plan.
  3. Call the village office at 410-730-7327 to speak to Village Manager Jessamine Duvall ( or Land Use Liaison Joan Lancos ( We can answer questions and help you stay informed throughout the redevelopment process.

Please take the time to actively participate in this process as it unfolds.


Hickory Ridge Village Center Redevelopment

Hickory Ridge Village Center Redevelopment

On December 7, 2015, Kimco realty notified the Hickory Ridge Village Board of its intent to redevelop the Hickory Ridge Village Center. This marks the beginning of the lengthy “Village Center Redevelopment-Major” process developers are required to follow according to the  Howard County Zoning Regulations, Section 125.J.

Since that initial meeting, Kimco Realty has hosted the required Village Center Concept Planning Workshop, which was held on February 18 at Atholton High School. Meeting minutes and Kimco’s written responses to the comments and questions received at that meeting will be made available once the Village Board has received them.

The next step in the Village Center Redevelopment process will happen on March 23, 2016. Kimco will host the first of two required pre-submission community meetings at 7 pm in the Atholton High School cafeteria. Residents are encouraged to attend, as this is one of your key opportunities to comment on Kimco’s proposed plan and suggest changes to improve it. After this meeting, a second pre-submission meeting will be scheduled, at which Kimco will present their revisions to the redevelopment plan based on community input.

If you live in Hickory Ridge, please do what you can to participate in the redevelopment process. Attend community meetings and share your views with the Village Board. You are being given the opportunity to have an impact on determining the future of the Hickory Ridge Village Center. Seize it!

If you have questions about the redevelopment process, please visit our dedicated web page for more information. You can also direct questions to the Village Manager by phone (410-730-7327) or e-mail.


Columbia Flier Confusion!!!

UPDATE: I recently received new information from the Baltimore Sun about the phasing out of free delivery. 

“Currently the plan for Columbia Flier is a mix of free distribution and paid subscription.  The ratio will change over time.  In first quarter 2016, we will be stopping approximately 2,450 deliveries in 21044.   The majority (77%) are bulk-drop to apartments.”

From this I glean that they will slowly stop delivering free copies of the Columbia Flier throughout Columbia, eventually only delivering to paid subscribers. If you are no longer receiving the Flier for free, you should now consider whether you want to pay to receive this newspaper.


You probably received something in the mail recently from the Columbia Flier about their change (again!) to a subscription newspaper. There was probably a bill for $19.54, and it was probably addressed to an incorrect first name with the correct last name at your address. Sound familiar?

It’s like a bad flashback to August 2012 when the Flier did the same thing to Columbia residents (but I think they got the names right that time). It’s confusing, sounds like a scam, and prompts many questions.

  • What will happen if I don’t pay? Will I still get a paper?
  • Is this legal?
  • Is this a scam of some kind?
  • Didn’t they try this a few years ago?

As you may recall, they kept delivering the Flier to everyone back in 2012. However, they are now actually phasing out FREE delivery of the Columbia Flier to every home in Columbia. If you are still getting a free paper every Thursday, great! You don’t need to subscribe… yet. Eventually, sometime during the next year or so, they will stop dropping free papers at your house. At that point, you will need to decide if the Columbia Flier is worth $20/year to you. Start thinking about it….

5 Reasons why FALL Family Bingo Night is Awesome

Friday, September 25 is another fabulous Family Bingo night at The Hawthorn Center. This is an awesome thing to do with your kids. Here are 5 good reasons to come play with us this Fall.

1. It’s super-cheap. Bingo cards are 5 for $1.oo. Drinks are $.75 each. Bingo daubers are less than $2. Snacks are FREE. Yes, free. All the cheese curls, pretzels, and popcorn your kids can eat for FREE. It’s so cheap, you can bring your kids’ friends and look like a hero to their parents.

2. Your kids (and you) will love the prizes. We have NEW prizes, plus the stuffed animals, notepads, and pencils that kids love. And when kids win, they get to go CHOOSE their prize from the winner’s table. How cool is that? Not like those school fun fairs where they just hand you a plastic top or Chinese finger trap. Here, you have the power to choose your reward. We have some nifty prizes for adults too. And there’s always CASH for winners to boot.

3. It gets you out of watching another LAME family movie with the kids. Seriously. Every family movie EVER was watched in my house over the summer because the basement was the coldest room in the house. If you have started watching those painful Disney sequels on Netflix (Hunchback of Notre Dame II, anyone?) you need to STEP AWAY FROM THE TV. Get out of the house and do something as a family that doesn’t involve a screen.

4. It teaches your kids important skills. Okay, this is a stretch —  but they do have to listen carefully or they’ll miss the number being called. Plus, since the odds are against them they’ll probably learn about being a good loser and how to handle disappointment. You could also give them a budget for the night and help them decide how to spend it. It’s almost like school, right? Right? But with cookies and soda.

5. BINGO is FUN for adults! Admit it. You secretly love it. The thrill of ALMOST winning every single game combined with the fun of stamping your bingo card with a dauber is good, old-fashioned, corny fun. Besides, you can’t attend frat parties anymore and you can’t afford a babysitter, so come on down.

Friday, September 25 at The Hawthorn Center. No reservations required — just show up! We start playing at 7:30 pm.

We will have a dauber with your name on it. 🙂


Do You Really Need to Fertilize?

Soil Sample BagsBy Deborah Wessner, Hickory Ridge Watershed Advisory Committee

In preparation for the fall fertilizing season, the Watershed Resident Advisory Committee for Hickory Ridge suggests you first determine how much and what type of nutrients your lawn needs.  Much like a blood analysis for a person, a soil analysis can indicate what levels of chemicals and minerals are present in a lawn, and what type of nutrients may need to be added. Your lawn may already be rich in nutrients, so why pay for expensive fertilizer if you don’t need to?

A soil analysis can be provided for your lawn, FOR FREE, thanks to a program provided by Columbia Association. Soil sample collection bags are available at the Hickory Ridge Village Center office and can be returned to the same office once you have collected your samples (a ten minute task!)  Soil samples you collect from your lawn will be analyzed by a recognized laboratory in Delaware , and the results provided back to you by mail or email.  If you are unable to collect samples yourself, please contact the Hickory Ridge Village office at 410-730-7327 and we will ask a watershed volunteer to set up an appointment to collect the sample for you.

Remember, fall is the best time to fertilize but Maryland law requires homeowners to complete any fertilizing by November 15, so get your soil sample submitted today!


FY 2015 Annual Report

Our fiscal year ended April 30, 2015. During that year, our village’s Representative to the Columbia Board of Directors was Gregg Schwind. The members of our Village Board of Directors were:

  • Linda Hitzelberger, Chair
  • Jerry Lioi, Vice-Chair
  • Miles Coffman
  • Tom Louden
  • Michelle Wood

Village Board Projects

The Village Board worked on the following issues this past fiscal year:

  • Hickory Ridge Village Center Park development
  • Survey about CA parcel at Hickory Ridge Village Center
  • Signage at the Hickory Ridge Village Center
  • Mailing absentee ballots to every village household
  • Changes to Architectural Guidelines & RAC/AC By-Laws
  • Discussion of New Town Zoning with Howard County Council
  • Street parking around Atholton High School
  • Howard Community College Master Plan
  • Formation of the Hickory Ridge Watershed Advisory Committee
  • Planning the Open Streets Howard County event
  • Various building projects in and around Hickory Ridge
  • Joint meeting of Hickory Ridge’s smaller homeowners’ associations

Covenant Work

This year the Resident Architectural Committee reviewed 234 Exterior Alteration Applications, approving 189 through the regular process, and 38 via our Fast Track process. The RAC denied 1 application. The following volunteers served on the RAC this past fiscal year:

  • Dianne Earley, Chair
  • Linda Loesch, Vice-Chair
  • Debbie Cline
  • Barbara Condron
  • Kathy Mardaga
  • Skye Anderson
  • Bob Opatovsky

Appeals are heard by the Architectural Committee, which is composed of three Village Board members and two RAC members. No appeals were heard in FY2015. Tom Louden chaired the AC, joined by Michelle Wood, Miles Coffman, Dianne Earley and Linda Loesch.

During this period, the covenant advisor handled 218 new covenant violation cases and resolved 215 covenant cases. In FY2015, 2 cases were sent to Columbia Association for legal action, and 11 cases carried over into FY2016. The Association received 105 requests for a Letter of Compliance, and issued 87 Letters of Compliance.

Special Events

Our Special Events Coordinator, Joan Lancos, planned the following events in FY2015:

  • 4 Family Bingo Nights
  • 50+ Lunches (3)
  • Wine Tasting
  • Family Pool Party
  • Village Yard Sale
  • Landscaping Classes
  • Volunteer Party
  • Family Holiday Event
  • Ice Cream Social
  • Holiday Craft Show
  • Searching for Spring
  • Village Election
  • Ladies Night Out
  • School’s Out Lunches
  • Open Space Crew Lunch
  • Flea Market
  • Prepare to Care Event
  • Lifetime Transitions
  • 2 Shredding/E-cycle Events


In FY2015, the village offered the following services:

  • Notary Public
  • Postage stamps
  • Laminating
  • Reader’s Exchange Ads
  • Block Party Grants
  • Mowers list
  • Faxing & Copy Services
  • Maps & schedules
  • Cul-de-sac Grants
  • Snow Shovelers List
  • Columbia Cards
  • Scoop the Poop signs
  • Storm water assessments
  • Soil sample dropoff site

FY15 Budget

The village association brought in $359,470 income. Expenses were $360,743. The village reserve account (savings) totals $44,948. $256,798 of our income is our share of the CA special assessment that all Columbia residents pay yearly. Here is a breakdown of the budget:

CA Assessment Share $256,798
Rentals $  88,192
Interest $       123
Special Events $    4,631
Fees $    1,583
Miscellaneous $    8,142
Total $359,470
Staff Salaries & Benefits $213,403
Payroll Taxes $  14,357
Contract Labor $       241
Janitorial Expenses $  28,280
Fees $  14,339
Operating Expenses $  17,064
Taxes/Insurance $    5,445
Advertising $    4,812
Newsletter $  31,721
Contributions $       450
Special Events $    8,836
Utilities $  11,929
Maintenance $    5,190
Furniture & Fixtures $       164
Depreciation $    4,512
Total $360,743