New Community Transforms Grace Drive Property

Construction of the Cedar Creek community continued all summer and the new development has dramatically changed the area between the Pointers Run neighborhood and the W.R. Grace complex. When complete, the project will include 83 garage-style townhouses and 101 single-family detached homes.

The developer plans to complete the project in three phases, working from the front of the property to the rear of the site over time. In August, residents can expect to see the following changes: widening of Grace Drive along the development’s frontage, installation of curbs, gutters, and storm drains in the front-most section of the project, and laying of the base and initial asphalt layers of road. The developer expects to install the new community’s entry signage in September. Over the next 2 – 3 months the water and sewer lines will be installed throughout the project and power will then be brought into the site. The developer hopes to begin construction of the model townhouses (6 units) and single-family detached models (2-units) in November. As work is completed in the front section, the developer will continue in the middle section. The final area to be opened for sale will be the homes located at the rear of the property. The home builder will be NV Homes.

Development Updates

Changes in the form of development and re-development continue to occur around the boundaries of the Village of River Hill. Updates are provided below:

Erickson Living Continuing Care Retirement Community
On March 4 at 6 p.m. the Zoning Board will begin to hear the case (ZB-1118M) to amend the zoning of 62.116 acres located off MD 108 at 12170 Clarksville Pike. 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 for the Erickson at Limestone Valley Continuing Care Retirement Community is needed for the project to move forward. This hearing is expected to continue beyond March 4 and the following dates have been set aside: March 11 at 6 p.m., March 18 at 4 p.m., and March 25 at 6 p.m. Although the association continues to have concerns about the safety of the retirement community’s entrance on MD 108, the River Hill Community Association’s Board of Directors voted on February 10 to submit testimony in support of the petition. The association’s written testimony will be posted on this site following submittal.

River Hill Square
Construction of the River Hill Square retail project on the site of the former River Hill Garden Center is well underway and a summer opening is anticipated. In February, the Howard County Board of Appeals Hearing Examiner granted River Hill Square, LLC a variance (BA 19-022V) to reduce the required structure and use setback from a residential district from 30’ to 0’ to accommodate an 8-foot solid fence. The Garden Center will no longer have a presence on site. In addition to having a U.S. Post Office and a State Employees Credit Union (SECU branch), businesses coming to the center are expected to include a coffee shop, a burger place, an ice cream store, and a hair care business. Prior to completion of the Sheppard Lane re-alignment, a stormwater management facility must be constructed on the east side of Sheppard Lane. This facility will drain under the intersection and outfall into the existing stream valley on the Limestone Valley Farm property. The developer estimates Sheppard Lane will need to be closed for 2 weeks to complete the roadwork.

Robinson Overlook
The Site Development Plan for Robinson Overlook, the 48-unit apartment complex with a low, moderate, and mixed income structure located at 7410 Grace Drive (SDP- 19-055 & PB 449), was reviewed and approved by the Howard County Planning Board (5-0) in January. The Department of Planning and Zoning has granted allocations for 43 housing units in 2021. Signature approval of the site development plan original occurred in February. The developer may now apply for building permits.

Cedar Creek Development
The Site Development Plans for the first phase of this residential project were signed and approved in early January 2020: SDP-19-022 – for model homes consisting of five single-family attached homes and 2 single family detached homes; and SDP19 057 for 122 units. Phase 1 construction has begun with tree removal, grading, and the installation of perimeter sediment control fencing. Utilities and the limit of disturbance for the pathway connection at Quiet Night Ride have been marked. Temporary stormwater control measures will be created onsite followed by the installation of utilities and road construction. Plans for the environmental trail and bridge connecting this development to the Robinson Nature Center (SDP-19-025), are currently under review by the County.

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.