Thursday, November 17, 2016

Overview: Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) Recommendations

One of the topics of the November meeting of the Southern Howard County Civic Association (SHCCA) covered the recommendations provided to the Howard County Executive by a task force convened in 2015 to consider changes to the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO).

APFO was enacted in 1992 to slow the exploding growth of housing in Howard County, and to ensure that public infrastructure (schools and roads) were capable of handling growth.

It defines criteria ("tests") for determining when developers must provide funds or mitigations to prevent school overcrowding and road congestion.

There wasn't sufficient time to completely cover the topic, but highlights are provided below and Howard County's Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) Jeff Bronow is willing to meet with the community again if there is interest.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Minutes: Autumn Walk HOA Annual Meeting and Election Results (11/7/16)

Autumn Walk held its Annual Meeting on November 7, 2016 in the Emerson Clubhouse.

  • FY17 Budget Adopted
  • Monument Sign for Autumn Walk Entrance
  • Maintaining Community Engagement
    • Welcome Wagon
    • Contact Information
    • Flamingo Fridays and Events
  • Yard Maintenance Issues
  • Solar Panels
  • New Board Member Elected

Autumn Walk Halloween Block Party 2016

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2016 Autumn Walk Halloween Block Party! There was steady stream of visitors all night and a surge when all of our trick-or-treaters returned with their loot candy.

And special thanks go out to the hosts, Allie Stegner and Daphna Morgan, and to everyone who entered the chili contest and pumpkin carving contest. There were three vegetarian chilis, five meat chilis, and nine pumpkins! (Plus an anniversary cake!)

The crowd came out in force even on a school night, and it was great to see both old and new neighbors, as well as friends from other neighborhoods.

Top vote-getters were:
  • Meat Chili: Allie Stegner
  • Vegetarian Chili: Jamie Humphreys
  • Pumpkin: Niki Patel (Pirate Flag Pumpkin)
But all of the chilis were delicious and the pumpkins were works of art. It was hard having to choose!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Pink Flamingos Cryin' in the Rain

Well, probably many of you won't get the Willie Nelson song reference, but it was raining when these pictures were taken today...anyway the forecast is for it to be dry this Friday (November 11th), when Bindu and Dharmesh will be hosting Flamingo Friday at their house (9811)!

The Flamingo is your invitation to "come on down"! Please come out if only for a short while to say hello to your neighbors.

These are super casual get-togethers that just allow everyone to mingle and get to know others in the community.

Date: Friday, November 11, 2016
Time: 7 PM
Location: Bindu and Dharmesh's house (9811)

More information about Flamingo Fridays is on our web site, but typically the host provides drinks and everything else is variable.

Sometimes people bring snacks or appetizers too, but this is really just about the chance to meet your neighbors face-to-face and be part of a community.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Howard County Officials to Discuss Route 1 Revitalization and APFO on Nov. 1

(Please note that although both topics are on the same agenda, APFO addresses congestion from new housing in all of Howard County and not just the Route 1 Corridor.)

Howard County officials will be the guests at the next meeting of the Southern Howard County Civic Association (SHCCA) on November 1st at 6:30 PM in the North Laurel Community Center (NLCC).

  • Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) 
  • Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) Task Force 

There will be two topics:
  • 7:00 PM: Route 1 Revitalization
  • 7:45 PM: Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO)

Date: Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016 [add to Facebook calendar]
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: North Laurel Community Center (NLCC), 9411 Whiskey Bottom Road, Laurel, MD 20723

At this meeting Howard County will provide an overview of the review committee's recommendations for the first major changes to APFO since 1992, which govern what contributions developers must make for schools, roads, and other public infrastructure to account for the increased burdens created by growth.

The committee spent hundreds of hours over the course of 2015-2016 discussing the changes and this is your chance to understand the recommendations in a condensed form.

These recommendations are expected to form the basis for discussions between the Howard County Executive and the County Council when they consider making changes to the law over the next year.

To learn more about APFO, go to Howard County's web site at:

Related Posts:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Halloween Lights (Odenton, MD)

For a little Halloween fun, the 2016 Halloween Light Show will go live on Ice Crystal Court in Odenton on Friday, October 21 from 6:30 PM to 9 PM! The show should stay up through Halloween.

See the linked article about last year's show, and go to the family's Facebook page to see the rules for visitors (which essentially ask you to be courteous to the neighbors and to be safe).

This is the fifth year the family has created a light show, and they usually do one for Christmas as well.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fall Maintenance Tips

Angie's List has a fairly comprehensive list of suggested Fall Maintenance tasks to prepare your household for the upcoming change in seasons:
  1. Seal drafts and add insulation 
    1. Caulk, seal, and weatherstrip
    2. Measure your insulation
    3. Audit energy waste
  2. Service your furnace 
    1. Schedule fall HVAC maintenance
    2. Replace furnace filters
  3. Protect your plumbing 
    1. Insulate water lines
    2. Drain your water heater
    3. Remove and drain outside hoses
  4. Check your gutters, roof, and chimney 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Halloween Block Party and Chili Cook-Off

It's time for the 2016 Autumn Walk Halloween Block Party and Chili Cook-Off on Garden Ranges! Like last year, the event will held at 9832 (Allie's house).

To sign up for the Chili Cook-Off go to the link below or send an email to Allie at

Planned events:
  • Halloween Block Party - bring your treats for the trick-or-treaters
  • Chili Cook-Off (both meat and vegetarian categories)
  • Pumpkin Carving Contest (on Saturday @ 5pm, bring your own pumpkin)
  • Adult Costume Contest
  • Food and drinks - hots dogs/chips

To Enter the Chili Cook-Off:
  • Send email to Allie at
  • Tell her how many chili entries and which categor(ies)

Date: Mon., Oct. 31, 2016 (Halloween!)
Location: 9832 Garden Ranges

Saturday 10/29 @ 5pm: 
  • Pumpkin Carving Contest
  • Bring your pumpkin to the common area behind the 9830-9838 Townhouse Row (where the picnic was)
  • Pumpkins will be judged on Halloween along with the chili

Monday 10/31:
  • 5:30pm: Bring your chili entries to 9832
  • 6pm - 7:30pm: Chili and Pumpkin Judging Begins
    • Enjoy food, fun, and fellowship
    • Vote on your favorite chili (meat and vegetarian categories) and pumpkin
    • Adult costumes will also be judged by the hosts Allie and Daphna
  • c. 8pm: Prizes awarded for:
    • Best Adult Costume
    • Best Pumpkin
    • Best Meat Chili
    • Best Vegetarian Chili
This has been a fun tradition for both adults and kids here in Autumn Walk the last few years, and a great way to meet your neighbors!

Please join us even if you don't intend to enter one of the contests. It's just a great way to spend Halloween!

For the full set of pictures from last year:

Friday, September 30, 2016

Autumn Walk 2016 Annual Meeting and Elections

The 2016 Autumn Walk Annual Meeting and Elections will be held on Monday, November 7th at 7 PM in the Emerson Clubhouse.

The expected agenda:
  • This year there will be 1 position open on the three-member Board of Directors. For the elections to be valid, a quorum of 12 houses is needed either in attendance or by proxy.
  • Your current Board is:
    • Dharmesh Patel, President
    • Damon Wood, Vice President
    • Mike Fitzgerald, Secretary
  • The Board will also be adopting the 2017 Budget at this meeting. Look for the draft budget to be mailed to you soon. Comments can be provided ahead of time or at the meeting.
Emerson Elections
The Emerson Elections will occur just one week later, on Mon., Nov. 14th.

All three resident slots on the 5-member Board are up for re-election. 

In order to provide for better continuity in the future, the terms of office will be staggered based upon the number of votes in this election. 

The candidate getting the most votes will get a 3-year term of office, the next will have 2-years, and the final director will get 1-year.

Watch for Mail
Please keep an eye on your mailbox for the candidate forms and proxy forms that are being mailed to you (separately for each HOA)!

Emerson Capital Improvements - Town Hall 10/24

Emerson will discuss the survey results and the Board's decisions for capital improvement projects at the next Emerson Town Hall Meeting on Mon., Oct. 24th at 7 PM in the Clubhouse.

As you will recall, the Board sent out a survey asking residents to provide feedback on possible improvements to Emerson facilities in order to enhance our quality of life, ranging from an expansion and renovation of the Clubhouse to an expansion of the pool.

48% of the almost 1000 households in Emerson filled out the survey, with many write-in suggestions as well.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

"No Parking" Signs

The Howard County Fire Marshal is expected to install "No Parking" signs along the traffic island within the next month. This will create fire lanes to ensure that emergency vehicles can get through.

Once the signs are installed, cars can be ticketed for parking along the islands.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Howard County School Board Candidates (Wed. Oct. 19th)

(Update 11/9/16: Three newcomers were elected to the 7-member Board of Education: Kirsten Coombs, Christina Delmont-Small, and Mavis Ellis.)

As the General Election approaches, we also have an important Howard County School Board race this year.

The independent School Board directly controls $617.5M (58.8%) of Howard County's entire FY17 Operating Budget, and Howard County has set aside an $891.3M Capital Program for education.

Date: Wed., Oct.19, 2016
Time: 6pm - 9pm (Meet and Greet 6-7 pm, Forum 7-9 pm)
Location: Forest Ridge Elementary School (cafeteria), 9550 Gorman Road, Laurel, MD 20723

The Savage Community Association (SCA) and Forest Ridge Elementary PTA have partnered to bring you a forum for the upcoming Howard County Board of Education candidates prior to the election. Come meet the current BOE members and candidates on the ballot.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Please Pick Up After Your Pets

Pet waste is growing a problem throughout Emerson.

There are many Dog Waste Stations installed all around Emerson that both supply bags, and have trash receptacles for depositing them after they have been used.

Please help to keep Emerson clean! Thanks all!

Monday, September 26, 2016

2016 Autumn Walk Picnic Pictures

A huge thanks goes out to the volunteers who organized the 5th Annual Autumn Walk (Garden Ranges) Picnic on Sept. 18th, often at their own expense!

There was more great food than we could eat, and we had games for the kids including the cake walk and “shaving-cream/cheese-doodle head.”

Monday, September 19, 2016

Columbia, MD #1 in 2016 Money Magazine Best Places to Live in America

Columbia, MD is #1 on Money Magazine's 2016 Best Places to Live in America list!

This is the sixth consecutive time that Columbia has been in the Top 10 of this biennial ranking, and the first time that Columbia has taken the top spot, with the publication citing good schools, a strong business climate, economic and social diversity, and relatively affordable housing for this region.

This year's rankings emphasized the economy and jobs.

Other Top 50 communities in DC-MD-NoVA were Ashburn, VA (#22) and Hunter Mill, VA (#28, incorporating parts of Reston, Herndon, Vienna, and Tysons Corner).

As you know, Emerson is on the southern boundary of Columbia and shares the same top-rated Howard County school district and library system.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sign Up for 2016 Autumn Walk Picnic

Update 9/15/16:

Hopefully the weather will be great, but the picnic will be held come rain or shine!

In case of rain, the picnic food and activities will move into the garages at 9832 and 9834. If the weather is good, it will stay outside in the common area behind that row.

We have more details for the 5th Annual Autumn Walk (Garden Ranges) Potluck Picnic!

Date: Sunday, Sept. 18th
Time: 3 PM - 6 PM
Location: Autumn Walk Common Area (behind the 9830-9838 Townhouse Row)

To sign up to bring a potluck dish or picnic supplies, or volunteer to help, go to

or send an email to Please give us a house number/name so we know who is coming!

Come out and meet your neighbors! Fun for the whole family!

  • Food, fun, games, door prizes!
  • Autumn Walk HOA will provide pre-made sandwiches, everything else is up to you!
The organizers decided to go with sandwiches this year, so everyone can enjoy the picnic and no one is left tending the grills.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Autumn Walk Picnic on Sunday, Sept. 18th

Update 9/15/16:

Hopefully the weather will be great, but the picnic will be held come rain or shine!

In case of rain, the picnic food and activities will move into the garages at 9832 and 9834. If the weather is good, it will stay outside in the common area behind that row.

To sign up to bring a potluck dish or picnic supplies, or volunteer to help, go to

Save the date! The 2016 Autumn Walk Picnic will be on Sunday, September 18 from 3 PM - 6 PM.

  • There will be a new location this year, the grassy common area between Autumn Walk and Skylark Ridge (on the north side of the street, behind the second row of houses).
  • As usual the Picnic will be potluck. Stay tuned for more details about what will be provided and what will be needed, as well as activities.
The Picnic has been a great success each of the past 4 years, thanks to the efforts of our volunteers. Please tell those not on the mailing list about it, and come out to have a fun time with your neighbors!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Flamingo Friday This Week!

We've had a few Flamingo Fridays this year, and it's great to see that this wonderful tradition is enduring.

For those of you new to our neighborhood, The Flamingo signals that everyone is welcome to drop by casually and meet the neighbors. The host provides drinks, cups, napkins, etc. -- and everything else is up to you!

Please stop by, if only for a few minutes to say hi. This is one of the many things that makes Autumn Walk a special community to live in!

Date: Friday, Aug. 5th, 2016
Time: 7 PM
Location: 9868 (Dionne and Damon)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Emerson National Night Out - Food Drive for Ellicott City

Emerson's National Night Out (NNO) will still continue as scheduled tomorrow night, but appearances by Howard County police, fire, and government officials have been cancelled due to the recovery efforts from the devastating floods in Ellicott City this past weekend.

One of Emerson's residents has arranged for a Food Drive for Ellicott City in conjunction with the Howard County Food Bank and the Grassroots Center. Donations can be brought to a dedicated area at NNO.

Date: Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Time: 6 PM - 8 PM
Location: Emerson Clubhouse

1. National Night Out Events:

Friday, July 29, 2016

Emerson Is Official Howard County Kick-Off Site for 2016 National Night Out!

Emerson's Ice Cream Social will be the Official Kick-Off Site for the National Night Out (NNO) party in Howard County for 2016, with many local dignitaries in attendance including the Howard County Chief of Police!

NNO is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live.

In support of crime prevention efforts, thousands of communities across America will be turning on their outside lights and stepping outside to take part in neighborhood events and block parties.

Date: Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Time: 6 PM - 8 PM
Location: Emerson Clubhouse

Note: There will be no parking in the Clubhouse Parking Lot on Tuesday August 2nd from 7am to 7pm

As the lead site, Emerson will host many dignitaries and special events.

Special Guests and Dignitaries:

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Early Voting in Primary Elections Starts April 14

Early voting locations can be found on the web page of Howard County's Board of Elections.

You can vote at any early voting location in the county where you live from Thursday, April 14, 2016 through Thursday, April 21, 2016 from 10 am until 8 pm.

Any registered voter can vote in the non-partisan School Board elections. To vote in the Presidential Primaries, you must be a registered member of that party.

The schedule for the 2016 Election Cycle:

Primary Election:

  • Early Voting: Thursday, April 14, 2016 through Thursday, April 21, 2016 from 10 am until 8 pm. 
  • Primaries Election Day: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 from 7 am to 8 pm

General Election:
  • Early Voting: Thursday, October 27, 2016 through Thursday, November 3, 2016 from 8 am until 8 pm.
  • 2016 Presidential Election Day: Tuesday, November 8, 2016 from 7 am to 8 pm

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Autumn Walk Spring Clean Up Has Begun!

The weather may have transitioned directly from Winter to Summer, but the Autumn Walk Spring Clean-Up under our landscaping contract began today!

The first stage focused on trimming the Common Area bushes, and then re-edging all of the mulched beds, including in front of private homes.

The final step will add weed control to the flower beds, and then a new layer of mulch.

As a reminder, replacing mulch which has washed away the rest of the year is the homeowner's responsibility for the private flower beds in front of your home. The re-mulching only occurs under the HOA contract once per year in the Spring.

Also, trimming of the shrubs in your private flower beds, and weeding as well, is also the homeowner's responsibility.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Howard County Board of Education Candidates in North Laurel on April 5th

Come meet the candidates!

It may surprise you to learn that because school systems in Maryland are set up to be largely independent, the School Boards have direct authority over the schools, not the elected County Government officials.

On Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 6:30 PM, the Southern Howard County Civic Association (SHCCA) will bring together the candidates for the upcoming Howard County Board of Education elections in an open forum at North Laurel Community Center (NLCC).

There are eleven candidates for the three openings for 4-year terms on the Board that are up for re-election in the 2016 cycle. The Howard County Board of Education has 7 full Members plus a Student Member (who can vote on all matters except the budget, personnel, or other restricted topics).

The primary election will be held on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Because the School Board is non-partisan, any registered voter can vote in the primary.

Voters will be asked to select 3 candidates, with the top 6 advancing to the general election on November 8, 2016.

Daylight Savings Time: Sunday, March 13th

Don't forget to "Spring Forward" this weekend!

Daylight Savings Time

Date: Sunday, March 13, 2016
What to Do: Set your clocks forward one hour at 2 AM (unless you want to be late)!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Emerson February 2016 Town Hall Notes

Howard County's Chief of the Traffic Engineering Division was the special guest at Emerson's February 2016 Town Hall on February 22, 2016, attended by approximately 30 residents.

This division, within the Department of Public Works, is responsible for engineering traffic solutions (to include signals and traffic calming) as well as for operational functions such as snow removal on public streets.

 The topics covered that evening:
  • Parking problems within Emerson
  • Snow removal
  • Traffic and speeding issues

The highlights were:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

National Electronics Museum (Linthicum Heights, MD)

In a nondescript building near BWI is the National Electronics Museum, incorporated in 1980 primarily as a way to display defense-related electronics from the former Westinghouse (now Northrop Grumman) facility nearby, including airborne radars and a radar for the BOMARC supersonic missile (the first long-range anti-aircraft missile).

By 1983 the museum had its first permanent facility staffed by volunteers, with the first full-time staff hired in 1989. Today it is in a 22,000 square foot facility with outdoor exhibits and meeting spaces.

Inside the Museum

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:

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:

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