River Hill Village Manager to Retire

After almost 27 years of service to the association, River Hill Village Manager, Susan Smith, will be retiring effective September 1. “I have sincerely enjoyed my time working on behalf of the community, and I may continue in an advisory capacity if needed,” she said when announcing her plans to the River Hill Board of Directors at their meeting on June 10. Ms. Smith was an original property owner in River Hill, and she is looking forward to having more time to spend with her family which now includes two grandchildren that live locally. She also plans to take the time to enjoy some of her favorite activities such as hiking, traveling, and attending concerts and other festivals. Her dedication to the community will be greatly missed and not easily replaced.

The search for a new Village Manager has begun. Interested? Here are the details:

Are you a Howard County resident who’s passionate about serving your community? The Village of River Hill is seeking a Village Manager to manage all Village operations. This is a fantastic opportunity to work with one of the ten Villages of Columbia and have a direct impact on the community! Head to this link to learn more and apply today: https://hrstrategygroup.applicantstack.com/x/detail/a2mqsz0b8hdq

Association Thanks Volunteers and Welcomes Resident Involvement

What does it take to create a thriving community? In River Hill, we are fortunate to have volunteers who are committed to making the village a great place to live, work, and play! Without the assistance of these volunteers, the association would have a difficult time accomplishing all that it does, and life in the village would be a lot different. We are grateful for these volunteers and their contributions of time, energy, and ideas.

Just like the members of the Board of Directors and River Hill’s Columbia Council Representative, the association’s committee members and other volunteers are residents who help build community. These residents help too with much-loved traditions like the annual Independence Day Parade and Haunted Hallow’s Eve event. They ensure that improvements made to residential properties in the village are aesthetically pleasing and based on the Architectural Guidelines and Covenants. They advocate for improvements to enhance the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles; educate residents on maintaining the health of our creeks and rivers and promote environmental sustainability. Volunteers help work the polls on Election Day, pick up trash, and much more. They are your friends and neighbors who are stepping up in both small and large ways to enhance the quality of life that benefits everyone in the River Hill community. Please make sure to thank them for what they do and let them know that their efforts are appreciated.

The Board of Directors recently identified three groups of volunteers who deserve special recognition and thanks for their efforts in FY2021 (May 2020 – April 2021): the Members of the Architectural Committee (AC), the Members of the Resident Architectural Committee (RAC), and the FY21 Election Committee Chairperson.

Resident Michael Cornell stepped in on short notice in March to Chair the Election Committee and oversee village elections held in April. Thanks to his previous experience as a member and Chairperson of the association’s Board of Directors, as a member and Vice Chair of the Columbia Association’s Board of Directors, and numerous times volunteering during village elections, he was up to the task. Several critical issues unexpectedly arose during the nomination and election process and Mr. Cornell’s knowledge was essential to the association navigating the challenges. Based on the issues that arose during this last election season and lessons learned, in June, the Election Committee provided the Board of Directors with recommendations for improving the election process in the village. The association is expected to consider these recommendations and update the association’s Election Guidelines and Regulations as a result. Stay tuned and watch for opportunities to volunteer to assist!

Also being recognized are the FY21 contributions of the AC and the RAC members. When combined, these committees have well over 30 years of experience conducting site visits, reviewing exterior alteration applications, and recommending and making decisions about changes to residents’ properties. In FY21 the members worked with association staff to modify procedures during COVID 19, adapted to Zoom meetings, and kept the review processes going with only a brief period of “downtime.” The resulting property improvements enabled residents to enjoy their properties during a time when being at home was essential and being outdoors was one of the few diversions available.

One important contributor to the architectural review process over the last 25 years has been Mohammad Saleem, a resident of the Pointers Run neighborhood. The association will miss him when he and his wife relocate this summer. Mr. Saleem began his service to the village first as a member of the RAC and as its Chair, then on the Board of Directors and as its Vice Chair, and in recent years as Chair of the AC. His background as an architect and his thoughtful insights have been of great benefit to the community. His departure provides an opportunity for other residents to volunteer and give back to the village.

Residents interested in becoming more involved with the association and contributing to making the village a better place are encouraged to check out the various committee options, volunteer to assist with an upcoming event, talk to a staff member, and watch for new opportunities coming soon!

If you would like to learn more about how to get involved and what areas are in your realm of interest/expertise, visit the association’s website at www.villageofriverhill.org. Click on the Board tab, and spend some time familiarizing yourself with the variety of active committees that work on behalf of the association and residents to continually improve the quality of life for all who reside in River Hill. If you have any questions, please direct them to Susan Smith, Village Manager, via email to manager@villageofriverhill.org.

Development Updates

Erickson at Limestone Valley
Erickson Living, LLC’s proposal to obtain a zoning change to permit construction of a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Clarksville, which includes the relocation/expansion of the existing Freestate Gasoline Service Station, is continuing to be heard by the Howard County Zoning Board. The hearing for Case ZB-118M will continue July 27, 2021, at 6 p.m. The hearing will be held virtually and live streamed via WebEx. To review the related documents and register to attend, visit https://cc.howardcountymd.gov/Zoning-Land-Use/Zoning-Board.

Erickson Living has also requested a two-year extension to the General Plan Amendment originally adopted in 2018 (CB59-2018). In April 2021, the Howard County Planning Board considered Erickson’s request for an extension and unanimously recommended that the County Council adopt GPA-2021-01 to extend the timeframes established in CB59-2018. The Howard County Council is currently considering Council Bill 50-2021 (CB50-2021) which, if approved, will extend the timeframes for the developer to obtain the required zoning change, or make the connection to public water and sewer. The Council held a public hearing on this matter on June 21. To view the legislation, written testimony, and related information visit https://cc.howardcountymd.gov.

Scott Property
The owner of property at 6479 and 6485 South Trotter Road (adjacent to Clarksville Middle School) is proposing to build 25 age-restricted units and a clubhouse on two lots totaling approximately 9.75 acres. Age-restricted development is permitted as a conditional use for the property’s zoning, which is R-20. A pre-submission community meeting was held on May 25. To view the concept plans, pre-submission meeting minutes and more visit www.bei-civilengineering.com/scottproperty. The next step in the process is for the developer to submit the plan. The project will be reviewed by Howard County’s Design Advisory Panel, and following their review, the plan will be submitted to the Department of Planning and Zoning for the conditional use request to be considered by the Howard County Hearing Examiner. In the meantime, the developer is developing plans to remove the existing farm pond and restore the stream channel that previously existed on the property. As a part of this, permits must be obtained from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the application will be made before the conditional use request is submitted to the county.

Willow Nook (Shaw Property) Annexation
In December 2018, the Columbia Association’s (CA) Board of Directors approved Howard County’s request for a public water, sewer, and utility easement for a new subdivision adjacent to CA Open Space Lot 239 in the Village of River Hill. The request was for the Shaw Property, located at 7079 Guilford Road. Residents will recognize this property as the white house with green trim and related outbuildings located on the north side of Guilford Road. The property backs to homes on Bright Memory Drive and Morning Light Trail. CA staff recommended the easement agreement because this is the only access the property has to public water and sewer needed to subdivide the lot. Additionally, the developer agreed to add the future subdivision to the CA lien through a process known as annexation. CA staff review of the final documents and having the CA lien recorded on the property were recommended conditions of the easement’s approval. Plans for the subdivision of the property into two lots, now known as Willow Nook (F-18-118), were approved in February 2019. The current owner is now ready to finalize annexation which will bring the property under the River Hill Covenants and the Columbia Association Declaration. The River Hill Community Association’s Board of Directors must approve the annexation and is expected to consider the request at their meeting on July 12.

Trotter Estates
The owner of property at 5808 Trotter Road is proposing to construct 4 single family dwellings on 3.78 acres. A pre-submission meeting will be held on July 22, 2021 at 6 p.m. at Claret Hall, 6020 Daybreak Circle, Clarksville, MD 21029. The type of initial plan submission to DPZ will be a final plan (following the submission of the Environmental Concept Plan). If you are unable to attend the meeting but would like to see the meeting minutes, please contact the engineering firm at contact@mba-eng.com. For general information about pre-submission community meetings, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/planning-zoning and click on the quick link.

Attractive Nuisance: Tree Swings, Ropes and Tires

During the past year we have seen an eclectic array of tree swings, swing seats, multicolored ropes and occasionally a tire swing pop up in the trees in front of homes in River Hill. Although the association understands the desire to have options for kids other than the community playgrounds during the pandemic, these structures have not been approved by the Architectural Committee (AC).

These additions are an eclectic mix and not viewed by the AC as a general “improvement” to the properties where they are located. Some people consider them attractive nuisances. Although Maryland is one of the few states that does not subscribe to the attractive nuisance doctrine, the state has been on record as stating that property owners can be held liable for injuries their attractive nuisances cause in places where children have a right to be. Remember, not all the trees on front lawns are the owner’s property, some may be a Howard County street tree or an adjacent owner’s tree.

In addition, an improperly installed structure in a tree, with each movement, can strip tree bark and leave the tree vulnerable to pests and disease. Drilling into a tree is a dangerous process and there is no guarantee that there will be no damage to a tree. Installing a structure in a tree that is not the proper tree type to support it can also be a liability to the tree and/or the owner.

Although ropes, tree swings, tree seats, and tire swings can be a symbol of carefree play and relaxation, the River Hill AC has not approved these items on front or side lawns. Therefore, the association asks that homeowners remove them immediately. We appreciate residents’ cooperation.