Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Howard County Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) Overview

On Wednesday, January 13, 2016, the Task Force chartered by Howard County Executive Alan Kittleman to perform the first comprehensive review of the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) will meet in Ellicott City for one of two remaining working meetings.

The Task Force plans to wrap up its discussion in the January 27th meeting two weeks later, with a final meeting on February 10th.

Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) Task Force
Date: Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM

So what is APFO, why should you care, and what are the issues being discussed?

What is APFO?

APFO was instituted in 1992 as a mechanism for Howard County to manage growth and the impact of new development on schools and roads.

Howard County did this by controlling the number of housing allocations. Developers are not able to build without housing allocations, and their projects must undergo a review to determine the cost of mitigating the impact on local school capacity and traffic congestion.

Developers have the option to either perform the required improvements themselves or pay into a County fund for that purpose.

(It should be noted that the courts have ruled, however, that the County cannot indefinitely delay development. If developers have housing allocations and the correct zoning for their projects, they can proceed after 4 years even without the improvements.)

Why should you care about APFO?

APFO attempts to establish reasonable thresholds for ensuring that funding is available to increase school and road capacity, to offset the impact of growth from new developments.

These issues have a major effect on quality-of-life issues in our community, especially in a place like Howard County that places high value on its top-performing school system.

What are the APFO issues being discussed?

The questions raised in the review revolve around the scope of what should be included (i.e., should the impact on more than just schools and roads be considered), what are "reasonable" thresholds and criteria, and how often the process should change.

Among the topics expected on tomorrow's agenda are:

Notes: Emerson Town Hall with Council Member Jen Terrasa (Dec. 2015)

Howard County officials were the invited guests at Emerson's December 2015 Town Hall in the Emerson Clubhouse. Featured were:

  • Kathleen Donodeo, Transportation Planner in the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning
  • Jen Terrasa,  Howard County Council Member for District 3
  • Kate McLeod, Special Assistant to Ms. Terrasa

The primary topics for discussion were transportation issues (including the lack of public transportation in Emerson and traffic), the status of infrastructure improvement local projects (primarily the Stephens Road bridge and sidewalks), school funding, and zoning and development. 

Public Transportation

Monday, January 11, 2016

Cyber Security Preparedness Briefing by the FBI on 1/27/16

Howard County's Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) will be hosting FBI Supervisory Special Agent Daniel Gray on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 in Ellicott City during the second half of their quarterly meeting to speak on the topic of Cyber Security Preparedness.

Mr. Gray is responsible for the management and coordination of all FBI Cyber Investigations for Maryland and Delaware, and was formerly the Assistant Section Chief of FBI Cyber Division’s former Cyber National Security Section.

To sign up, go to the LEPC EventBrite page: http://howardcountylepc.eventbrite.com/

Topic: "Cyber Security Preparedness: Best practices for individuals, and businesses to meet escalating cyber threats” with FBI Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) Daniel Gray

Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2016
Time: 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM (the first hour will have brief outs from Howard County agencies, and the second hour will be Mr. Gray's presentation)


Roger Carter Community Center
3000 Milltowne Drive
Ellicott City, MD 21043

Web Site: howardcountylepc.eventbrite.com

Full Description from the Event Page:

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Howard County Zoning Director Meets Community in North Laurel (Dec. 2015)

Howard County's new Director of the Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) Valdis Lazdins was the primary speaker at the December 1, 2015 open forum of the Southern Howard County Civic Association (SHCCA) in North Laurel, MD.

Howard County's DPZ has a very large effect on many of the quality of life issues in our area, to include the potential redevelopment of Route 1.

They manage the zoning regulations in Howard County, and review developer proposals for their impact upon schools, the environment and congestion (traffic).

DPZ's Approach to Development in Howard County

Mr. Lazdins spoke about his philosophy for the zoning process and his belief that engagement with the community was essential for successful outcomes.

He stated that any community will always be going through a constant state of change, and that there are three components to creating great design that is a good fit for Howard County:
  1. Preserve: Identify the the things that the community values, and that you want to write zoning regulations to keep
  2. Enhance: This is more difficult, as you have to define what it means -- housing? streets? sidewalks?
  3. Transform: The toughest part, especially if an area hasn't hit bottom yet where it has become clear to everyone that radical change is needed
Mr. Lazdins cited his broad and diverse background, including in the public sector (Chief of Special Projects for Montgomery County, and City Planner for Grand Rapids, MI) and as a partner in a professional planning firm (with other partners from the Rouse Company in Howard County) where he worked on projects across the country, to include the 3-year effort to replace the Woodrow Wilson Bridge outside of DC.

After listening to several residents express their concerns, he stated that it was clear to him that the Route 1 Corridor needs more attention in the 2016 DPZ work plan presently being put together.

Assessment of the DC-MD-VA Region

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Frozen Fest at Robinson Nature Center (Columbia, MD)

Howard County's Robinson Nature Center will be hosting Frozen Fest on Sunday, January 24, 2016 from 1 PM to 4:30 PM.

This kid-oriented activity will focus on the science of "cold" activities, with expected events including how to make ice cream, guided Winter Nature Walks, frozen experiments, and presentations on how cold-blooded animals survive winter without being able to generate their own heat.

Frozen Fest

Date: Sunday, January 24, 2016
Time: 1 PM - 4:30 PM
Cost: $7 for Robinson Annual Pass holders; $10 General Admission; Under 3 years old - FREE

Robinson Nature Center
6692 Cedar Lane
Columbia, MD 21044


Activities for 2016 Frozen Fest:

Monday, January 4, 2016

Autumn Walk Leaf Removal

We received an inquiry last month about the status of the Autumn Walk leaf removal service, so here's the response from our contractor:
We have been out to the property several times since leaf season began in October. We were there on or around October 8th & the 20th, November 3rd and again on the 16th. We are pretty much finished for the season and will get any late falling leaves cleaned up when we do the Spring Clean-Up on the property.
If you have leaves still caught in the bushes of your private flowerbeds, you'll need to remove them yourselves because the service works by blowing the leaves into a large pile, and then mulching them to return them to the soil.

Some of the equipment left stains on driveways in some cases, but those washed away with the rains.