I am sharing two Design Advisory Panel summaries for two Clarksville developments here: One for River Hill Square ( River Hill Garden Center) and Erickson Senior Living ( across River Hill Garden Center)
I had the opportunity to meet Roger Caplan (The Caplan Group) and Steven Montgomery (VP for Erickson) and got a deeper understanding of this new senior living facility. I am sharing two key pictures for this project. It is still early and future changes may occur.
The facility scale is very large. It will hold 1300 residents, 240 full time staff, 60 part time staff. It has its own cafeteria, hospital, recreation facility. It is not cheap. You may have to pay about 500k refundable deposit and a monthly 2500 fee to live there. It will create many job opportunities for locals.
If you need their presentation, please email me. It is too large to be put here. The presentation is also on their website, but I just could not find the link again for the moment.
Clarksville Continuing Care Retirement Community Proposal Announced
On Thursday, June 15, 2017, Erickson Living will be hosting a community discussion regarding its proposal to locate a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Clarksville. The meeting will be hosted at The Gathering Place, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029 beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The proposed CCRC community is intended to be located on the west side of Route 108 (Clarksville Pike) near Route 32, between the Freestate Gas and Sheppard Lane and will contain approximately 60 acres of land on two parcels (Tax Map 34, PAR 185 and a portion of Tax Map 28, PAR 100). Across the River Hill Garden Center, besides Free State Gas Station.
Representatives of Erickson Living will be sharing information such as:
What the Erickson CCRC model is and the vital need for expanded housing opportunities for the aging members of our community.
The potential impacts, benefits and opportunities of an Erickson Living CCRC.
Potential enhancements and efficiency of traffic flow along Route 108 through Clarksville.
There are two housing developments which are moving forward:
application number: SDP-17-013. Two single-family model homes at the intersection of Guilford Road and Route 108, just opposed of the Donaldson funeral home. (50 total homes of 150 approved). On Page 6.
application number: P-17-002. Prilimary plan submitted for the Simpson Oaks development north of Grace Drive that includes 46 single family detached( starting from 800K) and 83 single family attached. Total 129 houses. On page 7.
Chao Wu, Columbia Association board member and father of two, said he was one of Amanda’s first customers to buy lion T-shirts for his family.
“I think it’s amazing for her, as a young lady, to get some friends and classmates and start this from scratch,” Wu said. “It’s great for little kids because they love animals.”
It is so glad that the kids continue working on this project using their talent. I believe they can develop a small business on this and support not only Ellicott City Flood recovery, but also others. It is always good to grow and learn. That are valuable lessons when they grow up.
No place for a Nazi sign in our community at Columbia, Maryland
By Dr. Chao Wu, Clarksville, MD
November 29, 2016
(I sent this article to Columbia Flier and Baltimore Sun and did not get any response. So I am publishing it here first. It was published on 2016-12-08 issue at Columbia Flier and Howard County Times eventually. I really appreciate them effort by sharing my voice.)
I was shocked to see a swastika painted at my neighborhood playground over the Thanksgiving holiday. Many residents, including myself, take our kids there to play, socialize and enjoy this beautiful neighborhood. None of us expected this type of vandalism, with its links to Nazism, fascism, and racism, to happen in the community.
Our city of Columbia prides itself in honoring diversity and being civic-minded. I understand the 2016 presidential election was very divisive. In many other places, campaign signs were destroyed, houses were vandalized, and contentious words were exchanged. However, a swastika sign in the neighborhood is still a huge shock to the many people who live here.
Since its inception in the 1960’s, Columbia has been a driving force for promoting mutual respect and building community harmony. The two most recent speakers in Columbia Association’s Community Building Speakers Series, Rob Breymaier, Executive Director of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, and Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III, UMBC President, discussed Columbia’s founding principles of diversity and inclusiveness. This Saturday, December 3, 2016, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Bain 50+ Center in Columbia, County Executive Allan Kittleman will hold the first forum in his #OneHoward Initiative, which is designed to promote community dialogue and reinforce the county’s shared goals of diversity and inclusiveness.
Our community is now at a turning point with more changes to come. Following the County Council’s passage of the Downtown-related legislation several weeks ago, Columbia’s population is expected to increase by additional 20,000 residents. We can expect the area to become more diverse than ever – culturally, racially, educationally, and economically.
From my perspective, respecting and celebrating diversity needs to be practiced. What really matters is how we view ourselves and others with respect, how others view themselves and others with respect, and whether we can put ourselves in other people’s shoes. We need a common sense solution to create a shared future that is inclusive of everyone. This work needs to occur within our family, within our schools, at the workplace, and in our neighborhoods.
We also need a continuous, open and honest discussion on diversity and inclusion such that all groups should be heard with humility. The conversation should happen not only among people who are likely-minded, already vocal and visible in the community, but also from those who are usually left out by the main media. This requires extra effort to reach out. It also requires a heart with true tolerance especially when other opinions may be quite different, even offensive.
Diverse thoughts, mutual understanding, and truth-seeking are the keys to finding such a solution. There should never be a place for a Nazi swastika in our community. We are not afraid by its occurrence, but we need to be vigilant and continue working to achieve a safe and peaceful community.
This article will be published on October issue of The Villager of River Hill community Association.
On September 17, 2016, we celebrated the Village of River Hill’s 25th birthday. This was a day for celebration. From a formerly rural area, we have become a vibrant community. We had our fourth annual Health fair at the same time and there was a great turnout. Jennifer Zhang, (Student Member on the Board of Directors), Henrietta Kan (Coalition Halting Obesity in Children Everywhere), and Jennifer Lynott (RHCA Events and Newsletter Coordinator) were instrumental in organizing this event. Our village manager, Susan Smith, contributed to making the day a great success. Howard County Council Chair Dr. Calvin Ball presented the Association with a certificate and Council Resolution to recognize this great moment. Michael Cornell, the Chair of the Association’s Board of Directors, made the opening remarks and shared his 20+ years’ experience in the village. Dennis Mattey, Director of Open Space and Facility Services, congratulated the community on behalf of the Columbia Association. People of all ages, ethnicities, and faiths shared the joy of celebration.
Let’s Look Back
We are the last of Columbia’s villages to be developed, beginning in 1991. By local standards, we are far from Columbia’s town center, -bordering farms, the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area, and homes on larger lots that are outside the County’s water and sewer districts. The composition of homes is quite different from all previous villages because almost 80 percent of homes are single family homes, while the remaining 20 percent consist of townhouses and condos. There are no rental communities in River Hill, though some homes are available for rent.
The name River Hill refers to an old plantation, dating back more than 100 years ago, which reportedly was one of the first in the state to free its slaves. The Village has two neighborhoods, Pheasant Ridge and Pointer’s Run. Pheasant Ridge was named after a 1745 land grant. The poetic street names were selected from noted American writers Walt Whitman and James Whitcomb Riley. Claret Hall, the community center and home of the Association, was named for the 18th century land grant “White Wine and Claret” that included much of the land that is now part of the village. See Ref 1.
Let’s Look Forward
Now the Village of River Hill includes 2,096 dwelling units and 6,520 people. Our village has one of the most successful shopping centers. We have one of the Columbia Association’s most utilized outdoor pools. The Columbia Gym is also loved by our community. Our children attend Clarksville Elementary, Pointers Run Elementary, Clarksville Middle School and Atholton and River Hill High Schools and they are among the best in the county.
The Clarksville/River Hill community is still growing. Though outside the boundaries of the Village of River Hill, Clarksville Commons, a mixed use development, is finishing construction. More housing units will be developed around the edges of the village, including the Simpson Oaks development currently going through the County’s approval process A new and larger United States Post Office will return to serve Clarksville. Stores will be built at the intersection of Route 108 and Ten Oaks Road. The River Hill Garden Center is expecting to be redeveloped.
At the same time, we need think about how the development in other areas will impact our village, for example, how will Columbia’s new downtown development impact our community? Recently, the Howard County Veterans Foundation expressed interested in building a memorial at the Lakefront fountain. This will modify the fountain either in context or in structure. What is the role of our village in the whole of Columbia and in Howard County?
Education, transportation, family and community are our priority and we strive to make them better. Civic engagement is a crucial part to build a better community. My vision is that through continuous and planned development, we will foresee a more diverse and prosperous community. I am looking forward to enjoying 25 more years of life here in the village until my kids graduate from college.
Ref 1: J.R. Mitchell, D.L. Stebenne, New City Upon A Hill, A History of Columbia, Maryland, P144-145
Chao Wu, Ph.D.
River Hill Representative to Columbia Council and Columbia Association Board of Directors
There have been several incidents about car theft and tire smashing in my street. Last week my tire was smashed and I got a flat tire on Route 200, I feel more urged to write this post. Then during last weekend, my next neighbor told me that somebody tried to break into her car at midnight.
I have a feeling the safety in our neighborhood is deteriorating. I have not heard so much of this after I moved into this neighborhood until this year. I filed a police report online and got approved. The approval letter starts:
To receive a copy of a police report, please submit your written request to the Howard County Department of Police – Records Section, 3410 Courthouse Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043. There is a $6.00 reproduction charge for each report requested. Payment must be in the form of a check or money order (cash will not be accepted) made payable to HOWARD COUNTY DIRECTOR OF FINANCE.
It is just like when the neighborhood asked the state highway to set up a traffic light at the Route 108 and Linden Linthicum Lane, they told us there were not enough accidents to warrant a traffic light. Now there have been at least more than six property damages in just one neighborhood street , we still have not obtained any real help from the police.
I need set up a camera to catch those petty criminals.
Important Note: A pre-submission meeting has been scheduled for a new development proposal at the River Hill Garden Center: Thursday, October 6 at 6 p.m. at Kahler Hall, 5440 Old Tucker Row, Columbia (across the parking lot from the Athletic Club). This is a required meeting for the developer to present the concept to the community. I recommend that members of the Development Advisory Committee (DAC) attend this meeting. Between now and then, we will put out notifications to the community via Constant Contact and will include an announcement in the October newsletter (which doesn’t start delivery until October 1).
Reminder: DAC Meeting with Raj Kudchadkar, Deputy Director, DPZ on Wednesday, September 14 at 7 p.
The developer, Simpson Oaks CRP3, LLC, has announced a community meeting to discuss minor modifications to the approved Simpson Oaks Development Concept Plan. The modifications have been brought about by requested changes to the sketch plan in regards to the 184 residential dwelling units (103 single family detached units and 81 single family attached units) located along the north side of Grace Drive, west of the existing W.R. Grace facility.
The community meeting will be held on
Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.at the Robinson Nature Center, 6692 Cedar Lane, Columbia, Maryland 21044.
If you are unable to attend the meeting, you may contact Sang Oh at 410-964-0300 to receive meeting minutes and follow-up correspondence.
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.
Donaldson Funeral is trying to build a Donaldson Mortuary along Clarksville Pike ( Route 108). There have been strong oppositions from the neighborhood, including several churches, schools and residents.
Last week, they are conducting a traffic study. The timing seems very odd. During summer when the school are closed and many people are on vacation, there for sure will be much less traffic. I am not sure how the authority agreed to conduct the traffic study during this time frame.
The traffic study result will not be convincing because of the flaw how the data was collected. Maybe they do not care too much since it is just a standard procedure and they need to push forward. Or maybe they are afraid to provide evidence which is not good for them if they choose to collect data in a normal working day.
Anyway, a large bulldozer is cleaning the hurdles now on the site.
The article will be published on the August 2016’s River Hill Monthly Journal “The Villager”
The Howard County community is debating legislative changes impacting affordable housing in downtown Columbia. The implementation of any changes will have a long-lasting impact on Columbia’s downtown and our county’s future. Therefore, it is important for there to be careful consideration by the decision-makers and for the community to understand the pros and cons of the changes being considered. The Columbia Association’s Board of Directors has been hearing presentations from all sides and will ask CA staff to testify in front of the County Council to relay the CA Board’s positions in August.
There are two proposals in front of the County Council that amend the current legislation governing affordable housing as Columbia’s downtown is further developed.
One is the joint proposal mainly developed by Howard County Government and Howard Hughes Corporation (Columbia’s master developer). In this proposal, the parking requirement is greatly reduced, the housing density in downtown will be increased (from 5500 total units to 6400 total units), and a public financing scheme called tax increment finance (TIF) of $170 million will be implemented. Tax increment financing (TIF) is a public financing method that is used as a subsidy for redevelopment. Through the use of TIF, the county government will divert future property tax revenue from this Downtown Development to Howard Hughes for its willingness to take responsibility for ensuring the development of affordable housing. Howard Hughes will have a 40-year binding rights under Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreement such that no future legislation can change this proposed Downtown development plan.
In the joint proposal, the affordable housing units are proposed for the following locations: 100 at the Banneker Fire Station, 100 at Toby’s Dinner Theater, 150 at the existing library site, 90 units at a temporary fire station and 60 at the transit center. These units will be mixed with market rate units. Since the 900 units in downtown currently under construction do not offer affordable housing, another 5,500 units (the original number of units proposed in the 2010 Columbia Downtown Development Plan) are being proposed. This will make the total number of units 6,400. The Central Library, currently under renovation, will ultimately be replaced by housing units. A new library location has not been determined.
Jen Terrasa’s Proposal
The second proposal has been submitted by Councilwomen Jen Terrasa (District 3). This proposal requires 15 percent of Howard Hughes’ or any other developer’s units to be affordable. It ensures that downtown Columbia develops with a full spectrum of housing options as envisioned in the Downtown Columbia Plan (2010).
Advocates for the joint proposal want to make sure the housing will happen sooner by giving Howard Hughes financial incentives provided by TIF and binding the company to an agreement that requires a specific number of affordable housing units are built. Advocates for the Terrasa proposal support the simplicity of the proposal and argue TIF is only used to help the revitalization of blighted or economically depressed areas, which Columbia’s downtown area is not.
Here are my thoughts on the affordable housing in downtown after reading and reading all available materials.
Total Units for Downtown
I believe there is a need to have a cap on the total units developed over the next 40 years. Columbia has been a planned community from the start when Jim Rouse envisioned this new city. Without a cap, we can not plan the infrastructure accordingly. Having a set number of housing units will require any proposed future increase be considered in an open and public process. This is a good planning tool and is needed to ensure Columbia remains a planned community.
The county has been waiving the affordable housing requirement (usually 10%-15%) for developers in other parts of Howard County. Developers do not like to build affordable units because they will make less profit. The 900 downtown housing units currently under construction have no affordable units built as originally proposed as part of the 5,500 total units. That is the reason the joint proposal will give another 5,500 units to Howard Hughes. I am concerned that if this happens again, the developer will simply say we could not achieve the affordable housing goal after 6,400 units are built, and the county will probably simply agree to increase the total unit number.
Density for Downtown
I believe that increasing the density for downtown in order to achieve affordable housing is reasonable. It is in the best interest of our community to have people who work in Columbia and Howard County able to afford to live here.
Affordable Housing Distribution
Others in the community debate that there are too many affordable housing units located in downtown or Columbia. The following data were obtained from CA board chair Andy Stack’s paper shared on my website. Howard County has 1,337 Section 8 vouchers and of these 1,068 are located in Columbia, which is 80%.
Howard County has 1,260 units of Section 8 Project-Based Housing and 1,154 (92%) of them are in Columbia. (If Monarch Mills, which is located on Oakland Mills Road just outside of Columbia’s boundaries, is included, then 1,191 (95%) are in the Columbia area.
Howard County has 1,646 units that receive the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit ( LIHTC) and 372 (23%) units, or 451 (27%) if Monarch Mills included, are in Columbia. So Columbia has 2710 units (Section 8 + LIHTC) of the total 4245 units of Howard County, which is over 64%.
Considering that only 33% percent of the population of the whole county is in Columbia, I believe there is room for the affordable housing to be reasonably distributed around the county.
40 year Binding Agreement
I am concerned about the 40-year binding agreement with Howard Hughes. Yes, it ensures stability for Howard Hughes, but I believe it will be a problem for Columbia in the long term. It prevents our future legislators from making reasonable changes if needed. We must admit, nobody can accurately foresee Columbia’s development in 40 years.
Better Planning of Infrastructure
The Downtown Columbia Partnership estimated the following improvements to the infrastructure are needed to accommodate the downtown’s growth: a new elementary school ($30 million), a new fire station ($30 million), a new library ($40 million), a new arts center ($20 million), traffic improvement ($75 million), a new transit center ($9.5 million) and a new parking garage for Merriweather Post Pavilion ($50 million). The total is $254.5 million. Note, the TIF for Howard Hughes is estimated to total $170 million. I think more infrastructure should be proposed: another elementary school ($30 million), a new middle school ($60 million), a new high school ($180 million), a new hospital ($200 million). That is another $370 million. So total new spending for Columbia Downtown can easily top $1 billion.
Howard County Public Schools have been overcrowded and need money for upgrades and expansion. When we plan for the new Downtown, we should prepare enough schools, hospitals and roads to accommodate this change. It is always better to plan earlier, clearer and with careful financial considerations.
If you want to share your thoughts, please come to a CA Board meeting, county meetings, or email me. The county council is expected to vote in September on the proposed legislation.
The MD 32 Expansion plan between RT 108 and I-70 was developed without any plan whatsoever for sound mitigation to the existing homes along MD 32. The development will wipe out tree and vegetation buffers, increase the speed of vehicles, increase the volume of vehicles, and do nothing about the tractor trailer engine brakes being used. Sign this petition to tell the Maryland State Highway Administration and their supporters in the Howard County Government that the project should not move forward without a sound barrier as part of the plan.
There is a very important meeting to amend Plan Howard 2030 to revise the Growth Tiers designations. All Tier IV properties not currently preserved through Howard County’s Agricultural Land Preservation Program or in C or RR zoning districts will be designated as Tier III. Planning Board will make recommendation to County Council. Meeting date: 4/7/16
Location: 3430 Courthouse Drive, Ellicott City, MD
My previous post is located at https://chaowu2016.com/2015/12/06/eight-new-developments-around-river-hill/, about new residential and commercial developments. Thanks to CA staff, I got some update.
Public water adn utility easements to new commercial building location for the expansion of Conscious Corner in Claksville
Near River Hill
Final Plan for Phase I of the Enclave at Tiernery Farm development located east of Route 108 and west of Guilford Road. Phase I includes 50 single-family homes
Near River Hill
Sketch plan for 103 single-family homes, 19 single-family attached Moderate Income Housing Unites and 62 single-family attached housing unites proposed north of Grace Drive and east of Quiet NightRide
Near River Hill
Resubdivision plan to consolidate parcels and an easement for water utilities where three retail stores are proposed (Chick-Fil-A, Mr. Tire and a drug store) north of Ten Oaks Road at the intersection of Route 108
Near River Hill
Environmental Concept Plan for nine single-family detached homes north of Tall Timber Drive and west of Trotter Road
Near River Hill
Final Plan for Phase I of the Enclave at Tierney Farm development located east of Route 108 and west of Guilford Road. Phase I includes 50 single-family homes.
Near River Hill
Environmental Concept Plan for Simpson Oaks development east of Quiet Night Ride on Grace Drive for 103 single-family detached and 81 single-family attached homes.
Near River Hill
Developer is seeking a waiver petition from regulations governing on-site forest retention including leaving state champion trees, trees 75% of diameter of state champion trees, trees larger than 30 inches in diameter and providing recreational open space.
Near River Hill
Approved – November
Developer is seeking a waiver petition from regulations governing on-site forest retention including leaving state champion trees, trees 75% of diameter of state champion trees, trees larger than 30 inches in diameter and specimen trees in an undisturbed state.
Near River Hill
Decision Deferred November
Proposal to add a new automobile dealership “Antwerpen Hyundai “south of Auto Drive and north of Route 32.
We had two presentations Monday night at our monthly HOA meeting. One was for compost recycle from our very young residents. The other was from the watershed committee. I learned a lot from both presentations.