Development Updates:

Given the Village of River Hill’s location, on the edge of Columbia, its proximity to large parcels of undeveloped land and lots eligible for subdivision, as well as access to MD 32 and MD 108, the community continues to be impacted by development and redevelopment projects. Updates are provided below:

Zoning Board Hearing Date Set for Continuing Care Retirement Community

In March 2019, the Howard County Planning Board recommended approval, subject to four conditions, of Erickson Living Properties II, LLC’s petition to amend the zoning of approximately 62 acres in Clarksville. The site fronts on MD 108 at the Sheppard Lane intersection and the change in zoning from Rural Conservation-Density Exchange Option (RC-DEO) and Business-General (B-2) to a Community Enhancement Floating Zoning – Mixed (CEF-M) zone is needed for the Erickson Living at Limestone Valley Continuing Care Retirement Community to move forward and for the existing Freestate Gasoline Service Station to be relocated and architecturally modified. The Zoning Board will begin to hear the zoning amendment case (ZB-1118M) on Wednesday, March 4 at 6 p.m. at the George Howard Building (6340 Court House Drive, Ellicott City).

River Hill Square

The River Hill Square retail project is currently under construction on the site of the former River Hill Garden Center. The developer has requested a non-residential variance to reduce the required structure and use setback from a residential district from 30’ to 0’ to accommodate an 8-foot solid fence. The Board of Appeals will hear the case (BA 19-022V) on Tuesday, January 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the George Howard Building.

Robinson Overlook

The Woda Group, in conjunction with the Howard County Housing Commission, is developing a 48-unit apartment complex having a low, moderate, and mixed income structure on the property located at 7410 Grace Drive, Columbia. The developer’s Site Development Plan must be reviewed and approved by the Howard County Planning Board. The Planning Board will hold a hearing on the project (SDP-19-055 & PB 449) on Thursday, January 9, starting at or near 7 p.m. at the George Howard Building.

Clarksville Water Tank

As part of the county’s FY21 capital budget process, in December the Howard County Public Works Board recommended inclusion of Capital Project W8334. This project is for the design and construction of a 0.5 million-gallon elevated water storage tank and associated piping to serve the
630 West Water Zone. The project includes funding to identify and purchase a site in the Clarksville/River Hill area. The western half of the Elevation 630 West water zone extends from the Middle Patuxent River to Guilford Road and encompasses Clarksville, western Hickory Ridge and River Hill. The eastern 630 West Zone includes Harpers Choice, Wilde Lake and the eastern portion of Hickory Ridge. Redevelopment of downtown Columbia has increased the demand for infrastructure improvements including the need to include planning and construction for additional water storage in the Columbia and Clarksville areas. This project was initiated by the Department of Public Works in response to the needs of the County’s approved Master Plan for Water and Sewerage. The elevated water tank is required in order to stabilize zone pressures, provide system reliability, and for use with fire protection. In February, the Planning Board will review the proposed capital program and any new or substantially changed capital projects. The Planning Board prepares comments and recommendations regarding the impact of the proposed capital program on the County’s General Plan and the growth of the County and submits those comments and recommendations to the County Executive with a copy to the County Council.

Development Updates:

Plans for Bank Revised

JPMorgan Chase Bank is moving forward with plans to redevelop the former Ruby Tuesday site in the River Hill Village Center. Representatives from JPMorgan Chase and Core States Inc. will present a revised site plan to the association’s Board of Directors on Monday, October 7 (this is an update since they were originally scheduled to attend the 9/9 meeting) at 7 p.m. at Claret Hall. River Hill residents are invited to attend this meeting. Modifications have been made to the plan shared in June. The revised plan integrates comments made at the meeting regarding the construction of a bank branch building and provides more details pertaining to the subdivision of the parcel and the re-use of the former restaurant building.

As part of the county’s process, Chase Bank must hold a Pre-Submission Community Meeting, and the plans must be re-viewed by the County’s Design Advisory Panel. Once these meet-ings are scheduled, the association will publicize the information so interested residents may attend. Additionally, the plans require approval from the Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) which has architectural and landscaping control and covenant enforcement responsibility for all properties in the village center. HHC’s design requirements may be more stringent than the county.

Model Home Park Construction to Begin

The Cedar Creek residential development located at 7600 Grace Drive is coming closer to becoming a reality. The Final Plans for Phases 1 and 2 were determined by the county to be technically complete in the spring. In May, a site development plan for Phase 1 (SDP-19-022) was approved. This plan includes the improvements along Grace Drive (bikeway, sidewalk connections, crosswalks, and a bike station), entrance features to the new community, and the model homes for the single family – detached and townhouse units. NV Homes will be the builder. Chesapeake Realty Partners, the developer, expects to break ground in mid-fall, once they have obtained the needed bonds, the plats have been signed, the documents have been recorded, and the grading per-mit has been obtained. Tentative allocations for the schools were assigned in 2016 and will be made permanent when the plans have been signed and recorded. In the meantime, residents may notice the fence between WRGrace and the Cedar Creek development being relocated. The site development plan for the environmental trail and bridge connecting the new development to the Robinson Nature Center (SDP-19-025) is currently under review by the county.

Robinson Overlook

The Woda Group, in conjunction with the Howard County Housing Commission, has plans for 48 dwelling units spread be-tween five residential apartment buildings at 7410 Grace Drive. The development will have a low, moderate, and mixed income housing structure and is a permitted use under the current zoning. The County Council approved a resolution on July 29 permit-ting a Payment in Lieu of Taxes Agreement (CR-97-2019) for the project. This approval enables the project to be exempt from meeting the requirements of the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, including the test for school allocations. The developer has requested an administrative adjustment from the county’s bulk regulation requirements to reduce the setbacks for sidewalks and two buildings (AA-19-011). A meeting on this matter was scheduled for August 21, however a decision was not available prior to finalizing this issue of the newsletter. The site development plan for the project (SDP-19-055) is currently under review by the county’s Sub-division Review Committee and a revised plan must be submitted on or before September 8. When the SRC’s review is nearing or is complete, the Planning Board will hold a hearing and make a final decision on approval of the SDP.

River Hill Square Construction Underway

Undoubtedly by now readers have noticed that construction of the River Hill Square retail development, on the site of the former River Hill Garden Center, is well underway. Perhaps you’ve been wondering what those huge metal cylinders are for? They are part of the stormwater management system which has been designed to accommodate a 100-year storm. What can the community expect to see happening over the next month or so? The developer anticipates that building construction will begin in mid-August and paving will be complete by the end of August. They are aiming for the center to open in late spring 2020. The United States Post Office, which will have a branch in the center, is the only tenant announced to date.

Meanwhile, construction is occurring on the corner across MD 108 from the center. This project is the start of the realignment of Sheppard Lane. When this work is complete, there will be a 4-way signal at the intersection enabling vehicles to enter/exit the River Hill Square site and allowing for longer turn lanes on Sheppard Lane and MD 108. Sheppard Lane will need to be closed for 1–2 weeks in order to make the connection. The intersection is expected to be complete by late December 2019, although this timeline is dependent on weather and Verizon and BGE schedules. The contractors will do their best to minimize traffic disruptions during construction.

Plans for Ruby Tuesday Site Progressing

What is happening on the site of the former Ruby Tuesday restaurant? In mid-June social media chatter increased when two RV’s with camping-related gear and a large truck cab were observed parking overnight in the lot for several days. Combined with the minimal maintenance occurring on the property, it is not surprising that residents are concerned the site is becoming an eyesore. After doing some research, the community association discovered the RVs belonged to ID Plans Corp. This company was onsite as part of a detailed assessment of the village center being conducted at the request of Kimco Realty. The truck cab was unrelated. JPMorgan Chase Bank, the new owner of the former Ruby Tuesday site, is aware of the concerns and has indicated they plan to take measures to limit unauthorized access to the property and improve its appearance. Unlike with residential properties, Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC), not the village community association, has the responsibility for enforcing maintenance standards on the commercial properties in the village center. HHC is also aware of the community’s concerns.

Representatives from JPMorgan Chase Bank and Core States Inc., an architectural, engineering and construction firm, pre- sented their initial concept plan for constructing a Chase Bank at the association’s Board of Directors meeting on June 3. Their current plan is to locate the new branch building in the southwestern portion of the site, enabling the property to be resubdivided and the section containing the restaurant building to be sold or leased. At this time, it is unknown whether the restaurant building will be razed or repurposed.

The following process has been identified by the Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) to redevelop the site:

  • Pre-Submission Community Meeting.
  • Design Advisory Panel (DAP) Meeting. The Clarksville Pike Streetscape Plan and Design Guidelines will be used in conjunction with review by the DAP.
  • Environmental Concept Plan approval by DPZ.
  • Final Subdivision Plan approval by DPZ for re-subdividing the parcel into two lots. Resubdivisions do not require sketch or preliminary plan approval if no public road improvements are required and there is no additional area being included within the parcel.
  • Site Development Plan approval by DPZ.
  • Planning Board approval. Any adjustments or variances to the Final Development Plan (FDP) criteria is reviewed and approved by the Planning Board.

    In addition to the county process, HHC will also need to review and approve the architectural and landscaping plans. The River Hill Community Association anticipates the Pre-Submission Community Meeting will be held in mid-August. When the date and location become available, the meeting information will be publicized via the association’s various communications tools and signage on the property will be posted.