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.


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!


Ask Covenant Cat: Put a Cap on It!

Boo Boo wuz hereThis periodic “advice column” addresses common questions about the Hickory Ridge village covenants and other property maintenance concerns. To keep it interesting, your questions are answered by a local feline who is surprisingly well-versed in covenant issues. This cat may or may not be an overweight orange tabby named Boo Boo that lives with the Village Manager. Send your burning questions to


Dear Covenant Cat:

One of the openings to a Howard County water pipe on my property is missing its cap. Who fixes this?

-Mystified on Middlewater


Dear Mystified:

The answer to this question depends on which pipe is missing its cap. If you look carefully, you will find more than one on your purroperty. You should have both a water meter cap (about 12” wide, usually metal) and a ball valve cover (4.5-6” wide, usually plastic). If one of these is missing, Howard County will replace it at no charge. However, the pipe could also be your sewer cleanout. If that cap is missing, it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to replace it. Either way, you can call the Howard County Bureau of Utilities for assistance at 410-313-4900. Someone will come out to your home and identify which cap is missing. If it’s the water meter or ball valve cap, they will replace it for you. If it’s the sewer cleanout cap that is missing, the County can replace it for you for a fee (ranging from $20-45 depending on the part(s) required). They will leave you a note explaining how much it will cost fur the County to replace the sewer cleanout cap before they do the work.

And don’t come inside until you’ve met someone new!

[In the interest of recycling, this is an edited version of a post written last summer in honor of National Night Out. The 2014 NNO is TONIGHT!]

Remember the good old days of summer? When our parents kicked us outside and told us we couldn’t come in until dinnertime? Or better yet, the long lazy days of summer when we went BACK outside after dinner and stayed out playing flashlight tag and catching fireflies until our parents hollered for us (using our middle names) to come in and take a bath?

These days, our lives are so busy and we are so “plugged in” to phones, computers, TVs, and the like that the idea of going outside at night seems strange. Plus, it could be dangerous. Who else might be out there? Creepy people? Criminals?

Guess what — the creeps won’t hang around if you and your neighbors are outside. If neighbors are talking regularly, looking out for each other, and making it clear that they care about their street, crime drops. That’s the idea behind National Night Out. National Night Out (NNO) is designed to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

This year, National Night Out is TONIGHT, Tuesday, August 5. It may be too late to plan a full-on block party for tonight, but don’t let that stop you from getting outside with your neighbors.

NNO events can be as simple as everyone sitting in lawn chairs at the cul-de-sac (use the KISS principle), or could include an ice cream social or even a cookout (if you’re the Martha Stewart type). If you’re already using, it’s as easy as a quick post announcing a BYOP (Bring your own popsicle) gathering at the playground! It’s up to you – the important thing is that neighbors get outside and talk to each other on August 5! And don’t come back inside until you’ve met someone new!

What We Did in FY2014 (May 2013-April 2014) — aka The Annual Report

Every year, the village staff produces an Annual Report that is shared with the Village Board and with residents. This report lets our residents know what we have been up to in the past  year, and the many ways that we work to keep Hickory Ridge looking good and running smoothly. Here is the report that was published in the July 31, 2014 LOG newsletter. Enjoy!


FY14 Annual Report

Our fiscal year ended April 30, 2014. 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:

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



Village Board Projects

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

  • Hickory Ridge Village Center Park development plan
  • Redesign of the Sixpence/Buglenote Tot Lot
  • Inner Arbor Plan for Symphony Woods
  • Negotiation of CA Management Contract
  • Funding for a new Wilde Lake Middle School
  • Ash tree removal by Howard County
  • Hawthorn Park usage by soccer clubs
  • Street parking on Sunny Spring
  • Monument Sign(s) at the Hickory Ridge Village Center
  • Street parking around Atholton High School
  • External Financial Audit of the Association
  • Columbia Retail Market Study
  • Route 32/Cedar Lane Intersection improvements
  • 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 215 Exterior Alteration Applications, approving 188 through the regular process, and 27 with Fast Track. The RAC denied 6 applications. Serving on the RAC this past fiscal year were:

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

Appeals are heard by the Architectural Committee, composed of three Village Board members and two RAC members. One appeal was heard in FY2014. This past year Tom Louden chaired the AC, joined by Michelle Wood, Miles Coffman, Dianne Earley and Linda Loesch.

During this period, the covenant advisor handled 160 new covenant violation cases and issued 126 Letters of Compliance. A total of 180 covenant cases were resolved in FY2014, 6 cases were sent to Columbia Association for legal action, and 15 cases carried over into FY2015.


Special Events

Our Special Events Coordinator, Joan Lancos, planned the following events this past year:

  • 4 Family Bingo Nights
  • Family Pool Party
  • Village Yard Sales
  • Wine Tasting
  • Landscaping Programs
  • Volunteer Party
  • Family Holiday Event
  • Holiday Craft Show
  • Ice Cream Social
  • Searching for Spring
  • 3 Shredding & E-cycle Events
  • Village Election
  • Ladies Night Out
  • Columbia Home Tour
  • School’s Out Lunches (2)
  • Duct Tape Purse Class
  • Cardmaking Event
  • Open Space Crew Lunch
  • 50+ Lunches (2)


Services Offered at the Village Office

  • Free Notary Public
  • Postage stamps
  • Free classified ads
  • Block Party Grants
  • Faxing, photocopying
  • Mowers list
  • Maps & schedules
  • Cul-de-sac Grants
  • Snow Shovelers List
  • Laminating


FY14 Budget

The village association brought in $359,688 income. Expenses were $352,331. The village reserve account (savings) totals $45,283. $248,898 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          $248,898
Rentals                                       $  98,807
Interest                                      $       123
Special Events                         $    3,851
Fees                                             $       921
Miscellaneous                         $    7,088


Total                                         $359,688




Staff Salaries & Benefits        $203,876
Payroll Taxes                           $  13,947
Contract Labor                        $           0
Janitorial Expenses               $  25,717
Fees                                              $  13,607
Operating Expenses               $  13,001
Taxes/Insurance                    $    5,866
Advertising                               $    1,949
Newsletter                                 $  31,992
Contributions                           $       502
Special Events                          $  10,469
Utilities                                       $  14,764
Maintenance                             $    4,810
Furniture & Fixtures             $    4,141
Depreciation                             $    4,362


Total                                          $352,331


If you’re still awake after reading all this, please feel free to call the village office with any questions you may have.

Better Late then Never – Our Letter to the CA Board of Directors

At their June 16 meeting, the Hickory Ridge Village Board decided to send a letter to the Columbia Association (CA) Board of Directors regarding the CA Board meeting held on June 12, 2014. Below is the text of the letter:

Dear President Matthews and Members of the Columbia Association Board of Directors:

The Hickory Ridge Village Board was recently made aware of the events that took place at the Columbia Association Board of Directors meeting on June 12, 2014. It is our understanding that a new item was added to the meeting agenda by a 5-4 vote at the beginning of this meeting, without any advance public notice. Later, a vote was taken on this item without any public notice that a motion would be on the table.We believe that this action clearly violates the Columbia Association Board of Directors’ Special Rules of Order. With regard to Agendas, this document states (emphasis is ours),

3.1 Preparation of Agenda: The Board Operations Committee shall be responsible for preparing the Board agenda with background materials for each regular meeting. This agenda shall be submitted to all members of the Board, the Village Boards and the press seven (7) days in advance of any regular meeting, unless circumstances shall prevent such distribution. Generally, items will not be placed on the Board agenda until they have first been reviewed by a Board committee and then referred with a recommendation to the Board Operations Committee for placement on the Board agenda.

3.2 Agenda Items within 7 days of a meeting: If any matter arises within seven (7) days immediately prior to a regular meeting which, in the opinion of the Chairperson or President, requires action by the Board before the next scheduled regular meeting, that item shall be included on an Agenda Additions Sheet and distributed at the beginning of the meeting. Such addenda shall be announced at the beginning of the meeting.

3.3 Emergency Items: An emergency item may be added to the agenda during a regular meeting or executive session only if it has the two-thirds approval of all the members of the Board present at such meeting.

The actions taken by the CA Board of Directors on June 12 did not follow these Rules. This was not an “emergency item,” and a two-thirds approval vote was not achieved. In fact, these actions could also be considered violations of the CA Code of Ethics. And while the actions taken on June 12 are not a direct violation of the Maryland HOA Act, they certainly do not follow the spirit of the law.

We believe that the actions taken at the June 12 meeting reflect poorly on the CA Board for several reasons. First, the members of the CA Board who took these actions were not acting in the spirit of transparency that CA strives to achieve. Because this particular agenda item is so important to Columbia’s lienpayers, the actions make it appear as though the CA Board was attempting to make a major change without gathering public input.  Finally, the CA Board is setting a bad example for all the condominium and homeowners association boards in Columbia by either not being aware of its own meeting rules or intentionally disregarding them when it found it convenient to do so. We ask that Columbia Association take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that this does not happen again.”

A PDF version of the letter is viewable here: Letter to CA Board June 2014

Because this issue is so important to the Board, we are sharing this letter with the public so that all our residents are aware of what the newly-seated CA Board of Directors is operating. We urge you to stay informed on the CA Board’s activities — this elected body oversees how your assessment dollars are spent. Attend a CA Board meeting if you can. Speak up if you have something to say!

Find out when the CA Board meets and what’s on the agenda here:

Get involved and make a difference!