Our Planned Community (The Villager 2016-9)

 Our Planned Community

This article will be published on the September 2016 “The Villager” of River Hill Community Association.

Recently our county was hit hard by natural disasters. A hurricane hit western Howard County. Then, there was the flash flood that hit old Ellicott City. The flash flood caused tremendous damage to the old, historical city which is located in a basin surrounded by hills. Some people blame the flood on too many developments uphill from old Ellicott City and the watershed management is not functioning as expected.  One Saturday I went to help clean-up the aftermath and saw the damage first hand. Some buildings’ basements were washed away and they are now supported by temporary structures to ensure safety. This experience made me think about Columbia’s future.

There is a heated community debate on the two different proposals for the Downtown Development Plan. See my August newsletter article “Columbia’s Downtown and Affordable Housing” (https://chaowu.org/2016/07/27/columbias-downtown-and-affordable-housing/) for more information. Some people are complaining we are losing control to developers. There are concerns that too large a concentration of affordable housing will be placed in the downtown area. Some people believe that the assumption that millennials will want smaller homes with less driving is unfounded.

Recently, I read a book by Joseph Mitchell and David Stebenne “New City Upon A Hill, A History of Columbia, Maryland”. The book gave me a complete and big picture view of how our city was formed and arrived at today’s unique situation. The diversity of villages, the village centers merging with the communities, the green space, the pathways and the parks, the less congested roads are the reasons I loved Columbia and moved here. If a planned community begins to grow unplanned, it will become a disaster eventually.

We should always be forward-looking when considering Columbia’s future. This community has been a planned community since the start. The community will grow. More people will move in. We would like more businesses to move in such that people living here can work here. Our population is growing older.

We have to properly plan to accommodate these changes. With proper planning, we will be better able to cope with new issues. We need all the community efforts to plan early, better and ahead.


Chao Wu, Ph.D.

River Hill Representative to Columbia Council

Columbia Association Board of Directors

Email: chaowu2016@gmail.com  Website: http://chaowu.org

Disclaimer: This letter only represents Dr. Chao Wu’s personal opinion. It does not represent River Hill Board of Directors nor Columbia Association’s Board.