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.

Change Coming Down the Pike in 2018

Happy New Year! If there is one thing in life that is constant, it is change. 2018 promises to be a year of more growth in the Clarksville/River Hill area. Here are just a few development-related changes the Association is anticipating as the new year kicks off:

River Hill Square: The retail project planned for the former River Hill Garden Center property will continue to move through the County’s development approval process in 2018. On December 13, the developer presented revised plans to the County’s Design Advisory Panel (DAP). River Hill Square, LLC will hold a second community pre-submission meeting on January 24 at the Gathering Place (6420 Day Long Lane, Clarksville), time TBD, to solicit feedback on the modified plans.

Following this step, the plans will be submitted to the County’s Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) for review. This property is zoned for business (B-1) and may be developed as a matter of right, subject to County and State Highway Administration approvals. Therefore, there will be no additional public hearings or meetings. Community members wanting to provide additional input should contact DPZ at 410-313-2350. To view the recommendations made by the DAP on December 13 visit:

www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Planning-and-Zoning/ Boards-and-Commissions/Design-Advisory-Panel and click on “Past Meeting Materials.”

Limestone Valley Continuing Care Retirement Community: Erickson Living, LLC’s plans were reviewed by the DAP on December 6. To view the DAP’s recommendations, visit the link provided above. Since then, Erickson has been integrating the comments and making modifications to the plans. They are expected to present revised plans to the DAP in January. Erickson will then file the official petition to change the properties’ zoning to a Community Enhancement Floating zone. The Planning Board will hold a minimum of one public meeting to consider this zoning change and the General Plan amendment needed to expand public water and sewer to the site.

Simpson Oaks: The Preliminary Plan for the Simpson Oaks residential development, located on Grace Drive, has been approved by the County. Chesapeake Realty Partners will submit the construction drawings for the first phase of the project to the County in early 2018.

New Cell Tower: In mid-December, Calvert Crossland, LLC began construction of the new cell tower on W.R. Grace property. The tower will be stacked around January 21. The service providers will be installed, moved over and in service no later than May 2018.

Clarksville Commons: New retailers will continue to fill Clarksville Commons in 2018. In early January, Food Plenty restaurant will open. Food Plenty will be the third restaurant opened by the Victoria Restaurant Group, with the first two being Victoria Gastro Pub and Manor Hill Tavern. Also in early 2018, Victoria and Albert Hair Studio will be relocating to the Commons from their Columbia location. Everett Jewelers will move from the River Hill Village Center to the Commons in 2018. In early February, look for Rick Everett and his team in the small stone building at the front of the complex.

Design Panel to Review Revised Plans for River Hill Square

Remember the River Hill Square project? It is the proposal to re-develop the site of the River Hill Garden Center into a retail center. It has been 10 months since the County’s Design Advisory Panel (DAP) first reviewed the project and asked the developer to reevaluate the design and return with a plan that better reflects the Clarksville Pike Streetscape Plan and Design Guidelines (February 2016). Since then, the developer has hired a new architect to revise the design.

What types of changes can be anticipated? During its review in February 2017, the DAP concluded the initial design plan was not consistent with the Streetscape Plan and Design Guidelines and a “Main Street” development pattern. The DAP expressed concerns about the amount of parking, the need to buffer nearby homes, the robustness of the proposed pedestrian features, and the building forms, materials, and locations. Since then, the Erickson Living at Limestone Valley project has been proposed. The Association is very eager to see how the River Hill Square project has been re-designed and relates to the Erickson project.

The developer, River Hill Square, LLC, will submit revised design plans for DAP review on Wednesday, December 13 at 7 p.m. at the George Howard Building (3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City).  Interested residents may view the submitted materials here.  Those who wish to submit written input must do so in advance of the meeting. The public may observe the DAP meeting but does not have an opportunity to participate.

Community Feedback Given on Proposed Retirement Community

At the Zoning Board meeting on October 12, members of the public shared their views on the proposed Erickson Living at Limestone Valley retirement community. This meeting was the first required opportunity for the community to participate in the formal development process. The impact of the project on traffic along MD 108 was a major concern raised. David Elsaesser, a River Hill resident, noted that although the concept plan includes a light on MD 108 at Linden Linthicum Lane and relocation of the Sheppard Lane intersection, only a single eastbound through lane is proposed between Linden Linthicum Lane and River Hill High School. He questioned whether these changes will be adequate to address congestion and safety in the area. He also questioned the ability to extend the proposed access road to Auto Drive and the relationship of this project to the redevelopment of the River Hill Garden Center property. Eden Weber, another resident of the Village of River Hill, noted that the Great Star Drive/MD 108 intersection needs to be evaluated as a part of the project.

Several opponents commented that the project will change the character of the area from a gateway to the more rural western portion of the County to a “mini city.” They questioned whether the proposed development fits in the community due to its size, density, and location adjacent to properties with agricultural preservation easements. Some community members questioned whether there are other locations within the existing planned service area that can accommodate the project. They recommended evaluating these sites before going through the process of amending the County’s General Plan and extending public water and sewer. Others expressed concerns about the financial impact this project will have on smaller CCRCs in Howard County and the adequacy of emergency medical and fire services given the projected increase in population.

There was support for the project and other attendees offered suggestions for enhancements. Several attendees spoke about the need for additional residential options for Howard County’s aging population and cited personal experiences at other Erickson Living communities. Some supporters noted the positive impacts the proposed project will have, including opportunities for youth employment, housing relatives nearby, and maintaining the County’s tax base. Other audience members recommended extending the proposed bike lanes and sidewalks to Chapel Woods, along the proposed access road, and to the existing commercial area. Renee DuBois, River Hill Board Member and Development Committee Chairperson, recommended modifications such as the construction of a community playground or park to promote interaction between the residents of the CCRC and the surrounding River Hill/Clarksville area. Members of the Zoning Board discussed the concept of establishing covenants that would ensure the property would revert to its current zoning (RC-DEO) if Erickson was unable to move forward on the project.
To view the Initial Concept Plan presented to the Zoning Board and Erickson’s petition to amend the general plan, visit:
To view The Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning’s preliminary evaluation of the CEF District proposal visit: http://cc.howardcountymd.gov/Zoning-Land-Use/Schedule-of-Hearings and click on Preliminary Evaluation.