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.

Proposed Retirement Community Update

On January 24, the County’s Design Advisory Panel (DAP) reviewed Erickson Living’s revised concept designs for the Limestone Valley Continuing Care Retirement Community. The community is proposed for the north side of MD 108 at the intersection with Sheppard Lane. During the time between the DAP’s initial review on December 6 and the January meeting, Erickson Living modified the design in response to the panel’s recommendations and comments provided by the community. The Association believes the revised design better reflects the objectives of the Clarksville Pike Streetscape Plan and Design Guidelines and the enhancement requirements established in the zoning regulations for Community Enhancement Floating zones.
The developer was responsive to the Association’s initial DAP input. Key improvements in the revised design are:
  • The expansion of amenities accessible to the public including a children’s play area, dog park, bocce, and pickleball courts with adjacent parking;
  • Enhanced views into the property from MD 108 and the use of the topography to create an amphitheater; and
  • The co-location of amenities to create community gathering spaces that will support opportunities for interpersonal and programmatic connections between the CCRC’s residents and the broader Clarksville/River Hill community.
The Association is also pleased that Erickson Living has been in discussion with other stakeholders about extending the multi-use pathway to the east and west of the site and investigating the potential for extending pedestrian and bike amenities along the southern side of MD 108. Expansion of these features will improve safety, encourage integration of the new development, and set the standards for all new construction and redevelopment projects along this corridor. To view the revised concept plans, visit www.ericksonatlimestone.com.
Elements in the plan that the Association considers essential are the signalization of the MD 108/Linden Linthicum Lane inter-
section and the creation of an access road that will extend Linden Linthicum Lane across MD 108 and behind the existing commercial properties. However, the safety of the project’s proposed main entrance on MD 108 remains a major Association concern. Erickson and their traffic engineering consultant have had multiple conversations with the Traffic and Safety Committee and they are exploring options.
The next step for Erickson is to file the official petition to change the zoning of the site to a Community Enhancement Floating zone. Erickson has submitted a petition to amend PlanHoward2030, the County’s General Plan, to extend public water and sewer to the site. Throughout these processes, there will be additional opportunities for the public to have input. The Planning Board will review and make recommendations on both matters. The Zoning Board will have the final decision-making authority on the zoning change. Amendments to PlanHoward require a legislative change approved by the County Council. The River Hill Community Association will continue to provide input throughout the process and encourages residents to also be involved. We invite residents to share their ideas and opinions with the Association by attending meetings of the Development Advisory and Traffic and Safety Committees, speaking at Resident Speak Out during a Board meeting, or contacting the village manager at manager@villageofriverhill.org or 410-531-1749.