River Hill Village Center Master Plan Draft Available for Public Comment

For the past 3 years, the River Hill Master Plan Committee (MPC) has been preparing a Master Plan that will help guide the future development and growth of the Village Center. The MPC solicited input from stakeholders including Village Center merchants, local landowners, residents of River Hill, and the River Hill Community Association Board of Directors to prepare the document. The purpose of The Plan is to define the boundaries of the Village Center, provide a synopsis of current and future issues, and offer a framework for implementing near-term and long-term improvement options. The Plan specifically addresses five primary areas of concern to our community:

• Maintaining and improving the vibrancy and success of the
Village Center
• Creating a community gathering place
• Continuously adapting to meet a modern community’s needs
• Supporting improved traffic and safety
• Improving the Village Center’s parking lots

The Plan also assesses the impact of future development in the surrounding area on the Village Center and offers proposals for better integrating the Village Center with future development along the adjacent Route 108 corridor. The Plan incorporates ideas from a variety of MPC-sponsored activities including community surveys, merchant interviews, a community brainstorm, and a walkabout. Once it is finalized, this Plan will become an advisory document that can be used by the Village Board and community stakeholders to address current and future issues that impact the Village Center and growth in the surrounding area.

A draft of the Master Plan was presented to and approved for public comment by the River Hill Village Board on February 4, 2013. The full draft and a shorter executive summary are now available for public comment through May 31. The documents can be accessed through the River Hill Village website at www.villageofriverhill.org and can be reviewed, in printed form, during normal business hours at Claret Hall. The draft Master
Plan will also be on display during the Village Elections on April 20 and members of the MPC will be available to answer questions and solicit comments from the community. The Master Plan Committee would like your input.

• What do you like most about The Master Plan?
• What areas need improvement?
• Do you have ideas that you would like to contribute?
• Do you have concerns or issues that you want the Master
Plan to address?

Comments and suggestions for the Master Plan can be sent by leaving a comment at the bottom of the Master Plan article posted online at the Village of River Hill website, via email to the River Hill Village Manager, Susan Smith, at manager@villageofriverhill.org, or by completing a Master Plan comment form available at Claret Hall. The MPC will review all comments and present a final document for approval at a Board meeting during the summer. The approved document will be submitted to the Columbia Association and the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning. The current members of the MPC are: Robert Runser (chair), Trevor Greene, Jim Burnett, Jacqueline Easley, and Olivia Vaught.

Click here to see the entire River Hill Village Center Master Plan.

Click here to see the Executive Summary of the River Hill Village Center Master Plan.

Please feel free to leave comments here or come in to Claret Hall to fill out a Master Plan Comment Sheet.


5 replies
  1. Shawn Rovansek
    Shawn Rovansek says:

    I have a suggestion for section III.B where you discuss improvements to the retention ponds. Have you considered adding fountains to the retention ponds? Still water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes which have the potential to carry diseases (e.g., West Nile). Fountains in the ponds would create a ripple effect that disrupts the surface and inhibits mosquito breeding. If you’ve ever visited the Bethany Beach area, this is a widespread practice at retention ponds there. The side benefits are aesthetic appeal to add to the other proposed improvements and the same ripple effect that disrupts mosquito breeding would also inhibit algae growth.

  2. Robert Runser
    Robert Runser says:

    We appreciate your interest and concerns on some of the ideas raised by the Master Plan and thank you for your comments. The Master Plan’s primary purpose is to address issues impacting the Village Center boundary. We all know that the Route 108 corridor is one of the primary concerns of everyone living in River Hill–traffic and safety, lack of pedestrian accommodation, congestion, aesthetics, etc. The primary purpose of the Master Plan, as explained to our committee by CA and those involved in the legislation that enabled the committee to form, is to address those issues within the Village Center boundary. After lengthy conversations with CA, it was determined that the Route 108 corridor and businesses on the opposite side of 108 cannot be included in the Village Center (VC) boundary. Although we were disappointed with this finding, we tried to strike the right balance between those issues within the VC boundary and those properties in the “high impact area” adjacent to the VC to emphasize the importance of these issues to our Plan. Both the County and the State are the primary stakeholders that we need to influence to affect change along the 108 corridor and we will continue to voice our collective concerns.

    Another important aspect of the Master Plan is to identify where future growth within the Village Center boundary might be accommodated. Aside from the undeveloped parcel adjacent to the Giant (which is also owned by Giant), there are no vacant properties available for development. It is a valid point that one approach is to keep the Village Center as is and to oppose new development. Another approach is to identify where new development may serve the community’s interest and alleviate future problems such as parking lot capacity while preserving the aesthetics and amenities of the Village Center. We agree with you that if new development takes place, it should be clearly defined what uses are and are not permitted. We will take your comments into consideration as we hear from others in the community about how to strike the right balance between the present size and scope of the VC and impacts future growth in our area may have on the capacity of the VC to serve the community’s needs. -Robert Runser (Chair, Master Plan Committee)

  3. Tara Capino
    Tara Capino says:

    This proposal mentions apartments…will these apartments have a certain percentage designated as low income rentals ? Are apartments being proposed for the Gateway site ? Is it a priority of the county to develop low income rental housing in River Hill, and if so..why ?

  4. Julie Wilson
    Julie Wilson says:

    Thanks for all of the effort in defining the future direction of the community. I love living in RH and in Clarksville. I like living in this community because it is a wonderful neighborhood, with walking trails and a LIMITED number of retail ammenities. I am concerned about the proposal for rental housing and a parking garage on the gym parking lot. I will oppose any rezoning efforts to place these faclities in the back and side yards of the existing single family housing. The reality is that Clarksville is being developed on all HC edges and the streets are not keeping up traffic. I think the the single most significant priority is addressing traffic on 108 and providing pedestrian friendly access across Great Star and 108. What our community needs is not more housing and commercial development, rather we need the county’s support in providing connections (Bike and foot) that allow residents to access property on the county side of our community. Again, the infrastructure for a livable community is way behind the curve with respect to the county obligations. If we begin to solve this isssue by introducing some landscape, green parking lots etc to the Village Center paved lots, a consderable improvement will be achieved. Some of the schemes for the parking lot and one-way travel seem a little fussy and impractical.
    All in all, I would hope that our Master Plan pushes the county to make needed changes. I am opposed to increasing density, adding housing, adding commercial, etc. While many people tend to think that more development is better, I think that more development will have an adverse effect on the liviblity of our community. “Less is More” as a Mies Van Der Rohe once said. Lets focus on green space and community space as opposed to more retail.

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