River Hill Board of Directors
July 11, 2023
Opening (Agenda Item 2):
Mr. Bruening called the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m. The meeting was held remotely via Zoom. The following members attended: Kevin Bruening, Mark Combs, and Rob Mekelburg. Mr. Moe Imran joined the meeting at 7:12 p.m. Renee DuBois (Village Manager) and Eric Greenberg (CA Representative) were present. The following guests attended the meeting: Ron and Laura Briggs, James Kirk, Chris Griffin, Syed Ahmad, Donnie, Tony, Cara H., Resident, Diagnostics’ iPhone, 856-986-0897, and Jennifer Lynott (Communications & Events Coordinator).
Approval of the (Agenda Item 3):
Ms. DuBois requested the addition of 2 items to the agenda, the appointment of Mr. Adam White to the Watershed Advisory Committee (WAC), and the discussion of a Development Advisory Committee Charter amendment.
Mr. Bruening made a motion to add item 4E (WAC appointment) 7D (Development Advisory Committee Charter) and to approve the agenda as amended. Mr. Combs seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 4-0
Announcement of Executive Session (Agenda Item 4A)
June 13, 2023, Minutes (Agenda Item 4B)
Mr. Bruening made a motion to approve the Minutes from the June 13, 2023, meeting. Mr. Combs seconded the motion. The motion passed with unanimous consent. 4-0
Board of Directors’ Calendar (Agenda Item 4C):
Ms. DuBois proposed changing the dates of the September and October Board of Directors meetings so as not to conflict with the Plan Howard Academy classes. The September meeting would be moved from Tuesday, September 12 to Monday, September 11, and the October meeting would be moved from Tuesday, October 12 to Monday, October 11.
Mr. Bruening made a motion to move the September and October meeting dates as proposed. Mr. Combs seconded the motion. The motion passed with unanimous consent. 4-0
Syed Ahmad appointment to the Architectural Committee (Agenda Item 4D)
Mr. Bruening made a motion to appoint Mr. Ahmad to the Architectural Committee for a 2-year term. Mr. Mekelburg seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 4-0
Adam White appointment to the Watershed Advisory Committee (Agenda Item 4E)
Mr. Bruening made a motion to appoint Mr. White to the Watershed Advisory Committee. Mr. Combs seconded the motion. The motion passed with unanimous consent. 4-0
Resident Speak Out (Agenda Item 5)
HCPSS Transportation Policy (Agenda Item 6A)
Mr. Bruening provided some background information related to the new policy adopted by the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) to discontinue bus service to approximately 3,500 students for the upcoming school year, and he shared a summary of his testimony from the last Board of Education meeting. Mr. Bruening explained that residents of the Village of River Hill are particularly affected by the removal of bus service for several parts of the neighborhood. Due to the expanded non-transportation areas, students will now be required to walk over the Route 32 bridge and along sidewalks that are only 1-2 feet from the roadway in certain places. Mr. Bruening recommended that the RHCA Board of Directors send a letter of concern to the HCPSS Head of Transportation and all Board of Education members.
Mr. Bruening made a motion to have the RHCA Board send a letter expressing their concerns related to the HCPSS transportation policy to the Head of the Department of Transportation and to all Board of Education members. Mr. Imran seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 4-0
Q4 FY23 (Agenda Item 7A)
The report was unavailable as it has not yet been provided by RHCA’s accounting firm. It was suggested that the Board hold another meeting on July 27 via Zoom to review the financial statements at that time.
Mr. Bruening made a motion to hold a Board Meeting on Thursday, July 27, at 7 p.m. to review the Q4 FY23 financial statements. Mr. Mekelburg seconded the motion. The motion passed with unanimous consent. 4-0
Clarksville Commons Mixed Use Development (Agenda Item 7B)
Mr. Bruening shared his notes from the presentation made by Greenstone Ventures, LLC, II, at the 6/13 Board meeting and from the 7/6 Pre-Submission meeting that was held at Claret Hall. The process to get the zoning changed for the Mixed-Use Development is lengthy, and it includes a public hearing next year (date still TBD). During the Pre-Submission meeting, audience members expressed concerns about overcrowding at Clarksville Elementary School, cutting down specimen trees to make way for the development, the already limited amount of parking for patrons of Clarksville Commons, and increased traffic along Route 108. The question of why they plan to build apartments instead of condos was also posed. Greenstone Ventures had a weak response to the question. The RHCA Board will continue to monitor the proposed project as it has both pros and cons.
Open Meetings Policy (Agenda Item 7C)
Ms. DuBois and Mr. Bruening provided background about the previous Board of Directors’ policy to only allow Village of River Hill residents to receive notifications of and attend (remotely or in-person) RHCA Board Meetings, Architectural Committee Meetings, and other meetings pertaining to Village residents.
Mr. Bruening made a motion to rescind the Open Meetings Policy passed by the previous Board of Directors. Mr. Imran seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 4-0
Development Advisory Committee Charter Amendment (Agenda Item 7D)
A proposal to amend the Development Advisory Committee Charter was discussed, which seeks to allow for non-residents of the Village of River Hill to be a part of RHCA committees and/or workgroups. Mr. Bruening offered to draft the wording of the amendment and send it via email to the other Board members. Ms. DuBois suggested allowing Ex-Officio members to share their expertise with RHCA committees but not allow them to have voting privileges. Mr. Greenberg explained that the title of Ex Officio doesn’t pertain since the non-residents that may want to serve on various RHCA committees are not already holding an RHCA/CA office. Mr. Imran suggested that people that are interested in working with/on RHCA committees just be classified as volunteers.
Development Advisory Committee (Agenda Item 8Ai)
Mr. Imran and Mr. Mekelburg discussed developing a strategy and method to track the committee’s priorities and work efforts for various topics and projects related to development. They plan to advertise for more committee members through various communication channels including The Villager. Mr. Bruening mentioned that the County Council’s next public hearing on the General Plan (HoCo By Design) will be held on July 19 at 7 p.m. and that people can register to testify. Ms. DuBois recommended that the Board prioritize what they want to comment on and mentioned the opportunity to host a Town Hall in September if desired. Mr. Bruening suggested combining the Development Advisory items along with the Traffic & Safety Committee’s interests for a Town Hall in September. Mr. Mekelburg requested information and notes from past meetings related to specific projects that the Development Advisory and Traffic & Safety Committees had worked on recently.
Traffic & Safety Committee (Agenda Item 8Aii)
Mr. Combs and Ms. DuBois will set up a time to meet next week to determine what to focus on moving forward – primarily related to the noise barriers.
Watershed Advisory Committee (Agenda Item 8Aiii)
Ms. DuBois will contact River Hill High School and inquire about student interest and reactivating the committee.
Village Manager (Agenda Item 8B)
Ms. DuBois thanked the Board members for their strong presence and assistance with the very successful Independence Day Parade. She mentioned that she is open to their input on the event and how to make improvements for the future. Mr. Combs remarked that he’d like to see the school bands involved. Ms. DuBois mentioned that she is considering using shuttle buses next year to transport parade participants as needed, such as from the endpoint/reception area back to the schools to retrieve their cars, etc. She also made some good contacts with the 5th District Volunteer Fire Department and plans will be underway to work more collaboratively and hold events together.
Council Representative (Agenda Item 8C)
Mr. Greenberg reported that the CA Board will primarily be working on the Strategic Plan and will be looking closely at the last 5-year plan. They will also be working on the Ethics Policy. A Playground Pilot Study will get underway to form a general strategy for CA to make tot lot improvements and diversification throughout all of the Villages. Oakland Mills is the village that was selected for the pilot study, and each village can recommend someone to be a member of the workgroup that attends the 9 scheduled work sessions and report their findings. Mr. Bruening volunteered to represent River Hill and serve on the Playground Pilot Study workgroup committee. Mr. Greenberg also mentioned that the Columbia Gym will be undergoing a capital improvement renovation which is different than the annual Summer Shutdown. The work is expected to be completed during the first week of September. Mr. Bruening inquired about the additional funds that CA had available at the end of FY23. Mr. Greenberg stated that $3 million was transferred to the “Rainy Day” fund, which now has $8 million in it. Finally, the rate at which residents are assessed was discussed since the Annual Charge statements recently came out. Mr. Greenberg strongly recommended that residents talk to their mortgage companies to inquire whether the CA Annual Charge is escrowed or not. This is important for residents to know so that they’re not surprised when they receive the bill in the mail from CA each year in early July.
Board Chairperson (Agenda Item 8D)
Mr. Bruening shared that he greatly enjoyed the sense of community involvement, diversity of the community, and the “organized chaos” that makes the annual Independence Day Parade so successful.
Board Speak Out (Agenda Item 9)
Mr. Imran thanked Mr. Bruening for his leadership and patience as the new Board members settle into their positions.
Adjournment (Agenda Item 10)
At 9:29 p.m., Mr. Mekelburg made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Combs seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 4-0