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.

River Hill Square Project Moves Forward

River Hill Square, LLC met with the County’s Design Advisory Panel (DAP) in December 2017 to review their revised design plans to redevelop the River Hill Garden Center property. On January 24, the developer held a pre-submission meeting to review these plans with the community. The next step in the process is for the developer to submit the Site Development Plan (SDP) to the Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) for review by the Subdivision Review Committee.
Changes made to the plan since the developer’s first presentation to the DAP in February 2017 include:
  • Moving buildings closer to MD 108 and reducing the amount of parking along the road frontage;
  • Increasing the green space along MD 108;
  • Anchoring development with two stand-alone buildings (one of which is proposed to be a bank) closer to MD 108;
  • Expanding the width of internal sidewalks, adding landscaping, and using special paving in pedestrian areas and crosswalks;
  • Improved architectural character and use of building materials such as glass, stone, metal, and some brick; and
  • Improved pedestrian connections, including a proposal to connect at the rear to the Columbia Association pathway that runs behind Whistling Winds Walk and connections into the center from the multi-use pathway which runs along the frontage.
In December, the DAP agreed the architecture, site plan and materials were substantially improved when compared to the original plan. They did recommend design improvements to make the plan more consistent with the Clarksville Pike Streetscape Plan and Design Guidelines. Some of these recommendations were addressed by the developer at the January pre-submission meeting. The developer stated plans to:
  • Enhance the Main Street with special paving, plantings, and lighting;
  • Keep all lighting on site a lower scale
  • using poles 14 – 16’ tall, use indirect lighting, and shield light fixtures from residential areas so that all light remains on site;
  • Retain as much of the existing, treed buffer along the two rear sides as possible, add additional landscaping where able, and retain or replace the existing fencing with fencing of a similar style and height.
Although the DAP recommended a re-evaluation of the parking to determine if the buffer between the project and the adjacent neighborhood could be expanded, no parking spaces were eliminated in the plan presented to the public. The current plan includes 241 parking spaces, which is 3 more than the minimum required by the County based on the project’s size and type.
At the pre-submission meeting, members of the community commented on the impact of the project. Due to the elevation of the site, which is higher than the properties to the rear, lighting continues to be a concern. Nearby residents asked for more evergreen screening and inquired about enhancing the berms to minimize the impact. Members of the River Hill Community Association’s Watershed Advisory Committee inquired about the stormwater management plans including use of permeable pavement, rain gardens, and native plant materials. Tony Miceli, Chair of the Association’s Traffic and Safety Committee, expressed concern about the right out exit and inquired whether it can be removed. Anticipated issues include delays caused by merging vehicles and the hazards caused by exiting vehicles crossing multiple lanes to turn onto Sheppard Lane.
What are the next steps? Anyone who provided their names and addresses/emails at the pre-submission meeting (and anyone unable to attend the meeting who contacts the developer/petitioner requesting to be added to the list) will receive copies of the minutes from the January 24 meeting within 30 days. In addition, everyone on the list will receive notice of the actual SDP submission within 7 days of filing.
Citizens may request a meeting with a staff member of DPZ to review the initial SDP submittal after the plan has been formally submitted to DPZ. In addition, once the SDP is submitted, DPZ will upload data and information to its website (“Search Development Plans and Public Meetings” web application): at
Once River Hill Square, LLC files their SDP with the county, the Subdivision Review Committee will review the plan to ensure all regulations are complied with. It is highly likely that the developer will be asked to make further revisions before construction can proceed.