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:
- Sign up to attend one of the small group meetings Kimco is holding by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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.
- Call the village office at 410-730-7327 to speak to Village Manager Jessamine Duvall (email@example.com) or Land Use Liaison Joan Lancos (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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.