Village Board to Discuss Development Issues

At their meeting on July 8, the River Hill Village Board will discuss the following development-related issues that directly impact the community:

• Re-zoning of three Grace Drive properties now being considered by the County Council during the Comprehensive Zoning Plan process; and
• Re-development of the River Hill Garden Center property

The Village Board is moving forward to enter into covenants with the Grace Drive property owners to limit the uses which would be allowed under the proposed Planned Employment Center (PEC) and Planned Office Research (POR) zones. The Association’s goal is to ensure that future  development along Grace Drive will not detract from the nearby residential properties in the Pointers Run neighborhood and is appropriate for our community. The Board is also aware that development along Grace Drive has the potential to negatively impact the nearby Robinson Nature Center and the Simpson Mill residences under construction off of Cedar Lane.

Andrea Beri, a long-time resident of the Pointers Run neighborhood, has volunteered to solicit input from residents who will be affected most  directly by changes along Grace Drive. She will be canvassing the community and residents for input. Residents can also reach her at  443-472-0819 or andreaberi123@gmail.com. Kathy Chavers, the Board Member liaison on this development matter, can be reached at  Kathy.Chavers@gmail.com.

In addition to the re-zoning issues along Grace Drive, the owners of the River Hill Garden Center are preparing to re-develop their property. In 2011, the Howard County Zoning Board approved a change in zoning for the Garden Center property from R-20, which is established to permit single family dwellings, to B-1, which is established to provide areas of local business that can directly serve the general public with retail sales and services. When the owners, Steve and Cathy Klein, presented their case to the Zoning Board requesting this change, Mr. Klein’s testimony
focused on the need to grow the garden center in order to have a profitable, non-seasonal business. Mr. Klein recently held a required pre-submission meeting at which he presented their redevelopment plans to the public. The plan that Mr. Klein presented includes a down-sized “boutique” garden center use, a restaurant site which Mr. Klein said may be a Panera Bread restaurant, a fast food restaurant which may be a Chick-fil-A restaurant and a bank. The plan requires the removal of the former Kendall home and includes the creation of a new main entrance/exit at Sheppard Lane. Although Mr. Klein has stated he does not have plans to construct a pharmacy, the environmental concept plan submitted
to the Department of Planning and Zoning also includes a pharmacy as a proposed use.

Residents in attendance at the pre-submission meeting were surprised by the plans. Several residents expressed their concerns to the County Council during their June 24 Comprehensive Zoning hearing. These residents have asked that the River Hill Garden Center property’s zoning be reversed from B-1 to R-20 as a part of the Comprehensive Zoning process. At their meeting on July 8, the River Hill Village Board will discuss how the Association will proceed and resident input will be helpful. At this point it is unclear whether a change can be made as part of the  Comprehensive Zoning Plan process.

The County Council is expected to vote on the Comprehensive Zoning Plan (CB32-2013) on July 25 beginning at 4:30 p.m. Residents can share their views about both the Grace Drive re-zoning requests and the River Hill Garden Center re-development plans with the Council via  councilmail@howardcountymd.gov.

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