Monday, February 18, 2013

Howard County Officials: Visit to Emerson HOA on Jan. 28

Howard County officials were special guests at the last Emerson HOA meeting on 1/28/13 and answered questions from the community, mostly about traffic. Though Howard County Council Member Jen Terrasa was scheduled to attend, she was represented by members of her staff due to a late-running meeting.

Guests included Jo Ann Maxfield (Special Assistant to Ms. Terrasa) and Diane Schwarzman (Chief of Traffic Engineering and the County’s sole traffic engineer).

  • Extension of Skylark Blvd to MD-216 
  • Straightening Gorman Road 
  • Schools (including rezoning) 
  • Emerson Property Issues 
  • Sidewalks 


  1. Extension of Skylark Blvd to MD-216 
    1. Part of the long-term plan. May be affected by other considerations, need to talk to Marsha McLaughlin (Chief of Department of Planning and Zoning) to know actual plan.
    2. When Emerson was built, the Developer was required to build at least one access to MD-216 and chose to build the bridge over I-95 and connect via Stephens Road. 
    3. In response to a question from audience, does not anticipate any lights along Skylark other than at MD-216 intersection. 
    4. If Milk Producers land gets redeveloped may need a light there 
  2. Straightening Gorman Road 
    1. Plan is to straighten the dogleg near the school. Wincopia Farms developer has plans to acquire land to straighten out curve by the ballfields. Requires planning because don’t want children to have to cross Gorman Road to reach the ballfield. 
    2. South of Wincopia Farms plan is 11’ travel lanes, left turn into development, 5’ paved  shoulder, bike lanes. 
    3. Community raised issues with intersections at Skylark Blvd and Murray Hill Road. 
      1. Gorman backs up along Skylark Blvd at rush hour because it is difficult to make left turn and there is no way for cars to get past to turn right. 
        1. Audience suggested a traffic circle at intersection with Gorman and she seemed to like the idea. (Note that the ideas are not new.)
        2. Other possibility is a 3-way stop sign 
      2. When coming from Murray Hill Road to turn onto Gorman Road, it is difficult to see cars coming from right due to slope. 
        1. Ms. Schwarzman suggested primary fix is to get property owner at corner to trim bushes for better visibility. 
  3. Schools 
    1. School rezoning was not evaluated this year. 
      1. Murray Hill and Patuxent Valley Middle Schools will be considered this summer, to take effect in 2014. 
      2. Can find public redistricting info on the schools web site. 
    2. Issue was raised with cars waiting for kids along side street 
      1. Asphalt path connects schools to street, so parents park there to wait for kids to avoid the congestion at school 
      2. Cannot prohibit this as it is a public road, but homeowners can put up signs asking cars not to park on grass and ask the school PTA to educate the parents 
    3. Complaint about school buses waiting near the traffic circle on Stephens Road 
  4. Emerson Property Issues 
    1. Question about safety of storm ponds 
      1. No fences and children were playing on frozen ponds; not safe 
      2. Officials will query someone about this 
    2. Various related questions about who is responsible for maintaining the storm ponds and other areas 
      1. HOA is responsible for clearing trash 
      2. Various other issues are a mix of Emerson and sub-HOAs (many residents seem to be unaware that the sub-HOAs have primary responsibility for maintaining their neighborhoods) 
      3. Question about speed limit signs in Cross Creek referred to the sub-HOAs 
      4. Phil said they will put a map of the sub-HOAs on the Emerson web site 
  5. Sidewalks 
    1. To be widened along Stephens Road 
      1. Soil boring studies now, preparing plats for land acquisition 
      2. Expect construction Spring 2014 
    2. Request for sidewalks to allow residents to walk to North Laurel Community Center on Whiskey Bottom Road 
      1. They are aware of issue and it is a high priority for Jen Terrasa 
      2. Children who live right across the street cannot walk there 
      3. Also, cars speed along Whiskey Bottom even with traffic calming devices 
      4. Problem is that developers were not required to put in sidewalks when that area was constructed and retrofit is much more expensive especially due to curbs, gutters, pipes 
      5. Money allocated in FY14 (July 2013), but sidewalks are always the first thing cut from budget 
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