Development Updates (Robinson Overlook & Erickson Living at Limestone Valley)

There continues to be a lot of development-related news in the area surrounding the Village of River Hill!

Robinson Overlook Update

On March 18, Andy Cohen, Senior Vice President, Woda Cooper Companies, gave the association’s Board of Directors an update on the Robinson Overlook mixed income, multi-family rental housing project. The project will be located at 7410 Grace Drive and will be a partnership with the Howard County Housing Commission (HCHC). Woda Cooper will construct and manage the complex and the HCHC will coordinate resident services such as after school programs. Five, 3-story buildings with dormers will be located on the site for a total of 48 apartment units ranging in size from 1-bedroom to 3-bedrooms. Financing for the project will be through a low-income housing tax credit program administered by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

The Environmental Concept Plan (ECP-19-005) has been approved and was signed in March 2019. The next step is for the developer to submit the Site Development Plan for review (SDP). Many of the utilities were previously installed on the site as part of a different project. Therefore, actual construction is expected to take less time than usual. The county’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO), that is designed to manage growth and ensure that adequate public roads, schools, and other facilities are provided in a timely manner, will apply to the project. However, the county’s development regulations, Section 16.1103(e) – Special Affordable Housing Opportunities, allow for exceptions to the school capacity test in order to balance the county’s affordable housing goals and adequate school facilities. Woda Cooper plans to apply for an exception. Therefore, the County Council and the County Executive must approve either a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement or a resolution authorizing the project to proceed. As a part of the approval of the PILOT or resolution, the County Council must hold a public hearing on the matter. A decision must be reached prior to the SDP being signed.

Woda Cooper’s current timeline is:
• Late March/Early April 2019 – Submit SDP
• June/July 2019 – Public Hearing on APFO Exception
• August 2019 – SDP Approval
• September 2019 – Receive Building Permits/Commence Construction
• August 2020 – Complete Construction
• December 2020 – Complete Leasing/Fully Operational Housing

The River Hill Board of Directors raised the following concerns at the March meeting:
• Overcrowding at Pointers Run Elementary School and Atholton High School;
• Vehicular and pedestrian safety on Grace Drive;
• Adequate play space and amenities for children; and
• Aesthetics of the buildings and amount of hardscape.

The plans for landscaping include removal of the overgrowth and re-planting of the steep slope fronting on Grace Drive. The developer is required to provide a site distance analysis at the community’s entrance/exit and must measure actual speeds as a part of this study. The developer anticipates that the bike lane planned as a part of the Cedar Creek residential project will narrow the roadway and will aid in lowering vehicle speeds. Although sidewalks will be installed along the property’s frontage, the developer has no plans to complete connections to Cedar Lane or to the W.R. Grace site. Their engineers are investigating whether it will be possible to tie the site to the Robinson Nature Center.

Once the SDP has been submitted to the county, residents may request to review the plans at the Department of Planning and Zoning’s (DPZ) Public Service Counter (1st Floor George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City), Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m-5 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m.-3 p.m. DPZ can be reached at 410-313-2350 or planning@howardcountymd.gov.

Zoning Change Recommended (Erickson Living at Limestone Valley)

Erickson Living Properties II, LLC has been developing plans to construct Erickson Living at Limestone Valley, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) on approximately 62 acres fronting on MD 108 in Clarksville. For them to move forward with the development process, the zoning of the site must be changed. On March 21, the Howard County Planning Board reviewed Erickson Living’s petition to amend the zoning of the subject properties from Rural Conservation–Density Exchange Option (RC-DEO) and Business-General (B-2) to a Community Enhancement Floating Zone – Mixed (CEF-M) zone. Following presentations by Department of Planning and Zoning staff and the developer, many Howard County residents testified in support and in opposition to the change. The River Hill Community Association’s (RHCA) Board of Directors testified in support of the CEF-M zoning. A copy of the association’s testimony is available for review at www.villageofriverhill.org.

Following a work session, the Planning Board voted on March 21 to recommend to the Zoning Board that the petition be approved for the purpose of constructing a CCRC as depicted in the Development Concept Plans submitted by Erickson Living. The recommendation for approval included four conditions:
• The Site Development Plan shall comply with the Design Advisory Panel’s recommendations, as determined by the Director of Planning and Zoning.
• Many of the proposed enhancements require approvals from the Maryland State Highway Administration and other regulatory agencies. If an enhancement required per the Decision and Order has not received a full approval prior to the issuance of building permits or construction of the first CCRC residential dwelling, the Petitioner will pay into an escrow account the full cost of constructing that enhancement.
• The Petitioner shall provide details concerning the maintenance over time of the multi-use pathway(s) to ensure safe access and use by the broader community.
• The Petitioner shall work closely with the County to ensure that the needed utility system components can be accommodated on the property.

To watch a video of the March 21 meeting visit: www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Planning-and-Zoning/Boards-and-Commissions/Planning-Board. The next step in the process is for the Zoning Board to make a final decision on the change to a CEF-M zone. Once a date is announced, RHCA will share the information with the community.

Here is a copy of the RHCA Board Testimony: Planning Board ZB-1118M – RHCA Testimony 3.20.19

Erickson Retirement Community Update

The Howard County Council held a hearing on July 16 about Council Bill 59 – 2018. This bill proposes an amendment to the General Plan for Howard County (PlanHoward 2030) by adjusting the Planned Service Area for water and sewer service, the Growth Tier Maps, and the Designated Place Types. The bill applies to approximately 61 acres of land located at the corner of MD 108 and Sheppard Lane on which Erickson Living Properties II, LLC proposes to build a continuing care retirement community. Numerous Howard County residents testified before the Council, both pro and con. The River Hill Community Association submitted oral and written testimony in support of CB 59-2018. View the Association’s written testimony at CB59-2018 RHCA Input 7.13.18.

The County Council was expected to discuss CB 59-2018 at its July 23 work session and to act as early as July 27. For more information, residents can visit https://cc.howardcountymd.gov or contact Jessica Feldmark, Council Administrator, at jFeldmark@HowardCountyMD.gov or 410-313-2001.

Multi-Family Housing Proposed for Grace Drive

Howard County’s prime location has created high housing demand and prices resulting in the need for more affordable housing options. To help meet this need, the Howard County Housing Commission (HCHC) and Woda Cooper Companies are partnering to develop Robinson Overlook, a mixed income, multi-family rental housing community on 3.8 acres at 7410 Grace Drive. The plans for the community were presented to the Association’s Board of Directors on July 9.

Woda specializes in developing and operating multi-family, rental housing. Since its formation in 1990, the company has developed properties in 15 states, including projects in western Maryland and Baltimore City. Their model is to own and manage the properties over the long-term. HCHC’s mission is to “provide safe, quality, affordable, and sustainable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income families who live or work in Howard County and to assist them in moving toward economic independence.” The Commission will manage onsite programming such as financial literacy classes and after school programs for the community’s residents.

Woda will finance the development through Low-Income Housing Tax Credits awarded by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. By selling the tax credits to private, institutional investors, Woda takes on less debt and in turn can charge lower rents. The Robinson Overlook design consists of five buildings with a total of 48 back-to-back stacked units that range in size from 1- (718 sf) to 3- bedrooms (1398 sf). On site amenities will include a community room, computer lab, and tot lot. At this time, 43 targeted income units and 5 market rate units are planned. Household income levels for the 43 targeted income units will range from $20,160 (30% Area Median Income (AMI)) to $61,500 (60% AMI).

Woda has already submitted a Tax Credit application and expects to begin the county development review process in late summer/early fall. A pre-submission community meeting will be scheduled. When the meeting is scheduled, the Association will publicize the information. Members of the community who are interested in this project may view the July 9 presentation at Robinson Overlook Presentation 2018-07-09  River Hill residents may provide feedback to the Association at a Board meeting, by calling Renée DuBois (Development Advisory Committee, Chairperson) at 443-686-0702, or by emailing manager@villageofriverhill.org.

To learn more about the Howard County Housing Commission, visit www.househoward.org. For information on Woda Cooper companies visit www.wodagroup.com.

Hearing Rescheduled for Retirement Community

The Planning Board Hearing originally scheduled for March 29 on the General Plan amendment to extend the Planned Service Area in Clarksville (GPA 2018-01 – Erickson Living) has been rescheduled to Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. (Banneker Room, George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City). County approval to extend public water and sewer to the entire site, located at the intersection of MD 108 and Sheppard Lane, is needed prior to considering changing the zoning of the affected properties to a Community Enhancement Floating Zone.
The Planning Board has an advisory role at this stage in the process. Their recommendation on the General Plan Amendment will be considered by the Zoning Board, which makes the final decision. The Department of Planning and Zoning’s technical staff report will be posted two weeks in advance of the Planning Board hearing at www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Planning-and-Zoning. Members of the community may testify at the public hearing or submit written testimony in advance of the April 19 hearing via email to planningboard@howardcountymd.gov, fax to 410-313-3042, or by mailing to Planning Board c/o Department of Planning and Zoning, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043.
To view or download Erickson Living’s petition to amend the General Plan, visit www.ericksonatlimestone.com/development-plan. Additional information can also be found at this website. At the time of printing this newsletter, the River Hill Community Association’s Board of Directors had not decided whether to testify before the Planning Board on April 19.