Howard County School Construction Financing(presentation on 2019-1-12)

This presentation was presented by the Howard County Administration to the HoCo State Delegate Work session on Saturday 2019-1-12.

There is a surcharge comparison among different counties. Among 13 counties, we are at bottom three. Montgomery almost charges 10 times more than our county.

surchange comparison

Predicted new revue under new law:

increased revenue

Note: Every new student costs around 15,000 dollar per year in HoCo in the operating cost. Recently, we are adding around 1,000 new students per year, which is 15 million dollars. 

The presentation is attached here for reference.

DelegationHearing 1-12

APFO Overview_2019_1_12

This is the APFO overview presented to HoCo State Delegation Work Session.

Some slides :

  • Each year a 6-year capital improvement plan (CIP) is adopted by the County Council
  • The CIP covers roads, schools, fire, police, parks, libraries, community college, water and sewer, stormwater, and other county facilities
  • Based on general plan and individual department plan objectives
  • There are 3 test associated with APFO – 1) Allocations, 2) Schools, 3) Roads
  • Allocations test is conducted at initial plan stage approval
  • Schools test conducted once plan has allocations
  • For roads test, traffic study must be conducted, and adverse impacts must be mitigated by developer

Recent changes to APFO

  • Major change is lowering capacity utilization rate to 105% for ES, 110% for MS, and added HS test at 115% — effective in July 2019
  • Other significant changes include:
    • exempting moderate income housing units from needing allocations
    • a stricter roads test
    • adjusting allocations in the Growth & Revit. and Est. Comm. areas and eliminating shared pool
    • allowing the County Council by resolution to exempt LIHTC projects from Schools Test

Here is the heat map for future development. Look at those blue dots scattering around.

development heat map

The presentation is attached here:

Howard County Delegation Meeting – APFO Overview

2020 HoCo County Economic and Fiscal Outlook

During last night’s board meeting, Dr. Holly Sun from the County Government shared their Economic and Fiscal Outlook. Several key takeaways:

  1. recession is possible
  2. county revenue growth is slow (1.8% in 2017, 1.3% in 2018)
  3. APFO legislation may have a negative impact on the revenue
  4. During last two economic downturns, County revenue plunged by $35 million ($26-$43 million) on average
  5. County revenue: 49% from property tax, 41% from income tax
  6. County real property tax rate (1.014% general + 0.176% fire) is the 2nd highest in MD counties. For those living on CA, there is another 0.067% annual charge.
  7. County income tax rate (3.2%) is at the highest level in the State
  8. Howard County ranked 3nd among all 24 counties in Maryland for County spending per pupil for public schools. County spending per student totaled $10,321 per year, 41% higher than the State average of $7,323.
    • No.1. Worcester: $13,526 • No.2. Montgomery: $10,599 • No.3. Howard: $10,321
  9. A (Significant) Structural Gap Anticipated in Next 6 Yearscounty economical and fiscal outlook

Here is the document.

2020 HoCo Economic & Fiscal Outlook



HCPSS health care deficit along the way

Here I am attaching several figures to show how HCPSS health care got such a big deficit as today. And the new fiscal year, HCPSS need another extra $11 millions to fund the health care cost, not mentioning the $37 million deficit.

health fund deficit p1health fund deficit p2health fund deficit p3health fund deficit p4health fund deficit p5

School overcrowding, APFO and development impact fee

“How successful are Maryland Counties in preventing school overcrowding” is a report  created by Richard D. Klein of COMMUNITY & ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE SERVICES. I communicated with Richard on some other issues while I served on the CA board. He is really a great resource.

Here is the 42 pages report School Overcrowding Problem in Maryland Counties

Right now, Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary proposed a bill to increase the development impact fee (Ho. Co. 3–19). I totally support it and I hope you are supporting it and testifying  ( or writing mails, making phone calls) to support it. When I testified two weeks ago in County Council main meeting room, I said this bill was long overdue and it should be proposed by our delegates at least 10 years ago.  However, developer’s money is a nice cake for political campaign and this fee was arbitrarily set at $1 per square foot and was never revised at all for so many years.

I applauded Delegate Atterbeary’s bold move. I support the $8 per square foot based on many readings. Let’s do it.


Resignation from CA board

I am resigning from the Columbia Association board and the River Hill Community Association board, effective on December 1st, 2018.
It has been my honor and pleasure to serve on the CA board since 2015. I benefit tremendously from this journey and truly appreciate our CA staff, other board members and community members’ help during the time.
I will write less about the development, River Hill and Columbia, more about education related issues in Howard County. In the past, I wrote each month and the articles are listed here:
I am now starting a new journey in our school system as a newly elected board member in our Howard County Board of Education.
Together, we can continuously provide quality education to our students.

Public Notice For Hearing on HoCo Bills in 2019 Legislative session

Public Notice For Hearing on Local Bills (UPDATE 11/20/18)

If you are interested in the update, please email and ask them to include your email.

There are two bills related to education, both are proposed by Delegate Atterbeary. 

Ho. Co. 1–19 proposes 2020 (2024, 2028, etc) BOE board members are elected by council district (2020 BOE candidates can run a smaller scale campaign) .

Ho. Co. 3–19 proposes to raise development impact fee which closely relates to the school capacity( should help to mitigate the school overcrowding problem).

Ho.Co. 8-19: Howard County – Board of Education Redistricting – Requirements, Ho.Co. 08-19 ,By: Chair, Howard County Delegation. Legislation still in Bill Drafting (not sure what will be inside).

The Howard County Delegation of the Maryland General Assembly, chaired by Senator Guy Guzzone and Delegate Terri Hill, will hear testimony from the public on drafted local bills. No testimony on other issues will be permitted as a second hearing devoted to statewide bills will be scheduled.

Any individual may testify for up to 3 minutes, as long as they are signed up.  Signup will begin at 7:00pm in the Banneker Room and will close at 7:20pm.  Advance sign up is not available.  The delegation encourages you to bring written copies of your testimony (preferably 15) to distribute to us, though it is not a requirement to speak.  The hearing is scheduled as follows:

Monday, November 26th, 2018 – 7:30 p.m.

Banneker Room, George Howard Building

3430 Courthouse Drive, Ellicott City, MD

The 2018 legislative session will begin on January 9, 2019

Full text of the proposed Howard County bills can be accessed, as they become available from Bill Drafting, beginning Wednesday, November 14, 2018, at 6:00pm on the Howard County website (Home>About Howard County>State Delegation>Proposed Local Legislation): Please monitor this page regularly for the most recent updates. This list of proposed legislation and the order of presentation at the public hearing is subject to change as determined by the Delegation Chairs. Short descriptions of the local bills are included below.

Bond Initiative Requests

Butterfly Building for Visual Arts Gallery and Guest Services – Design and Build, Ho.Co. 05-19, $2,000,000

By: Delegate Hill

Historic Barnard Fort House Restoration, Ho. Co. 09-19, $150,000

By: Chair, Howard County Delegation

Historic Thomas Isaac Log Cabin Relocation and Rehabilitation, Ho. Co. 10-19, $100,000

By: Chair, Howard County Delegation

Harriet Tubman Community Center and Museum – Development and Improvement, Ho. Co. 16–18, $500,000

By: Delegate Atterbeary


Proposed Local Bills


Howard County Board of Education – Elected School Board, Ho. Co. 1–19

By: Delegate Atterbeary

FOR the purpose of requiring that certain members of the Howard County Board of Education be elected by the voters of certain districts and certain members be elected at large by the voters of the county; providing for the application of this Act; and generally relating to the election of the members of the Howard County Board of Education.

Howard County – Orphans’ Court Judges – Qualifications, Ho. Co. 2–19

By: Delegate Atterbeary

FOR the purpose of proposing an amendment to the Maryland Constitution to prescribe different qualifications for judges of the Orphans’ Court for Howard County; requiring judges of the Orphans’ Court for Howard County to have been admitted to practice law in the State and be members in good standing of the Maryland Bar; and submitting this amendment to the qualified voters of the State for their adoption or rejection.

Howard County – Authority to Impose Fees for Use of Disposable Bags, Ho. Co. 4–19

By: Delegate Hill

FOR the purpose of authorizing Howard County to impose, by law, a fee on certain retail establishments for the use of disposable bags as part of a retail sale of products; limiting the amount of a certain fee; defining certain terms; and generally relating to the authority for Howard County to impose a fee for the use of disposable bags.


Howard County – Alcoholic Beverages – Marketplace License, Ho.Co. 06-19

By: Delegate Hill

FOR the purpose of establishing a marketplace license in Howard County; authorizing the Board of License Commissioners to issue the license to certain individuals; specifying the scope, hours of sale, and fees for the license; authorizing the license holder to sell beer, wine, and liquor within the marketplace under certain conditions; authorizing a license holder to obtain a refillable container permit and a nonrefillable container permit under certain conditions; specifying certain standards to be met by the marketplace; defining a certain term; and generally relating to alcoholic beverages in Howard County.

Howard County – Flood Control Standards – Tiber – Hudson Branch, New Cut Branch, and Plum Tree Branch, Ho.Co. 11-19

By: Delegate Flanagan

 FOR the purpose of requiring the Department of the Environment to adopt regulations that establish certain flood control standards to be adopted by the Howard County Council for a development or redevelopment project located in certain watersheds in Howard County; requiring the Department to adopt regulations that specify that certain stormwater management plans for a development or redevelopment project located in certain watersheds in Howard County be designed to implement certain flood control standards; and generally relating to flood control standards.

Property Tax Credit – Elderly Individuals – Eligibility, Ho. Co. 16–19


FOR the purpose of altering the definition of “eligible individual” by requiring that an elderly individual must live in the same county, rather than the same dwelling, for a certain number of years to be eligible for a certain statewide optional property tax credit against the county or municipal corporation property tax; providing for the application of this Act; and generally relating to the eligibility of certain elderly individuals for a certain property tax credit.

Howard County – Ethics – Limit on Developer Contributions, Ho. Co. 12-19

By: Delegate Miller (ADDED TO THE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA 11/19/18)

 Legislation still in Bill Drafting.

Impact Fees – Calculation, Ho. Co. 3–19

By: Delegate Atterbeary

 FOR the purpose of altering the amount of the school facilities surcharge in Howard County; authorizing the County Council of Howard County to enact a local law providing for the annual alteration of the amount of the school facilities surcharge based on a certain calculation requiring the school facilities surcharge to be used only for the benefit of schools within whose attendance area certain residential construction is located; requiring the County Executive of Howard County to submit a certain report to certain persons at a certain time; defining a certain term; and generally relating to the school facilities surcharge in Howard County.


Howard County – Board of Education Redistricting – Requirements, Ho.Co. 08-19

By: Chair, Howard County Delegation

Legislation still in Bill Drafting.

For further information, please feel free to contact me.


Erinn Camp Mansour

Howard County Delegation Administrator

Maryland General Assembly

The Maryland House of Delegates

6 Bladen Street, Room 214B

Annapolis, MD 21401

phone: 410 -841-3360, 301-858-3360

CA board meeting summaries 2018-11-8

This is an unofficial summary. 

Board Work Session

Resident speakout:

  1. Chris Alleva, missed his talk. In his written testimony, talked about CB73, which was withdrawn and could possibly come back in front of the planning board in next January (Royal Farms SDP 17-041)
  2. Brian England, missed his speech.
  3. Amy Gallagher, talked about mold issues related to the facility they rented and impacted their operation, created extra financial burden and operation hardship.
  4. Alan Klein, representing his village, talking about the mold issue and thanked CA staff.


Howard County Phase 2 Land Development Regulations Assessment:
  1. There are 36 different zoning codes. That is one of the reasons the County Government wants to rewrite the zoning law and recude the zoning category.
  2. Out-parcels with Columbia Planning area: there are 7% ( 365 acres) for undeveloped residential parcel for future residential development.
Discussion of the Most Recent Development Tracker
Capital Projects and Open Space Updates
Four Easement Requests from Howard Count

Board Meeting

The board approved the pathway system in the Merriweather Park in Symphony Woods with condition from board final approval.

Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods


2018 HoCo general election amendment guide

Amendment 1: (YES)

Let’s fix the loophole and keep the promise (using gambling money to fund education). Even I don’t agree with funding the education by gambling money or marijuana tax.

Amendment 2: (NO)

Same day registration will create much longer waiting line and cost more money. It is unnecessary.

Two thoughts on this:

  1. I feel we need have a study whether eight days early voting is increasing the voter participation or not. We should shorten it to be four days. By the way, I totally support more voter participation/awareness, the better community.
  2. We need make Election Day a federal holiday. If everyone agrees election is so important, and every vote is so important, let’s celebrate election with a day off and offer people more convenience to vote.

Amendment 3: ( YES)

Howard County Council will have more time for a bill. I agree with it. It does not hurt giving them extra days. Last time, they passed a bill which expired and I hope that will not happen again.

Proactive Engagement in Land Development Needed (The Villager 2018-11)

Council Corner:

Proactive Engagement in Land Development Needed

 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.

The letter will be published on Nov 2018 issue of “The Villager” of River Hill Community Association.

The Patuxent Storage Facility under construction near Guilford Road at the entrance to the Patuxent Branch Trail in the Village of Kings Contrivance has recently been the focus of the Columbia Association’s (CA) board of directors and many residents. The issue is the location of the access to the storage facility. Rather than entering from Guilford Road or through adjoining CA open space, the developer chose to locate the entrance using a road which for many years has been used by the public to access the Patuxent Branch Trail. This decision resulted in many residents feeling unhappy about the developer’s choice. After numerous meetings, the county has agreed to pay at least $200K to build a new pathway connector to the Patuxent Branch Trail. This new connector will run through CA open space to replace the old, nearly 200-meter pathway that will be used by the developer to access the storage facility The CA board eventually approved a land easement so the county can build this separate and new pathway to ensure public access to the trail, pedestrian safety, and minimize the environmental impact of the project.

What was missing in this project was a quick and direct communication between stakeholders. The community needs a coordinated effort from our county council (zoning approval agency), the county government and developers.  The community needs to be informed early in the process. In some cases, the community does not necessarily oppose the development, but would like to provide input to make the development better. Columbia has been a planned community from the start and residents expect future growth to be planned with community input.

In the Village of River Hill, the association’s board of directors has been actively engaging in the process as development occurs around the village. Even on issues as small as the right turn exit by the McDonald’s, the association has coordinated with Kimco Realty several times to improve safety because some drivers make illegal left turns there. Current projects the association is reviewing and providing input on are:  the Erickson Living Continuing Care Retirement community with a capacity of more than 1200 residences; the redevelopment of the garden center as the River Hill Square commercial project, Cedar Creek (formerly the Simpson Oaks) residential development with 184 units; and most recently the Robinson Overlook 48-unit affordable housing development proposed on Grace Drive.

The board seeks to bring our residents’ concerns to the developers, zoning board, county government, and even the State Highway Administration to make sure that proper consideration is given to the impacts on traffic and safety and residents’ quality of life. The community association welcomes residents’ participation in various committees established by the village board so that we proactively engage with stakeholders as development projects arise. To find out more about the Traffic and Safety and Development Committees visit

Finally, please don’t forget to vote in the Primary Election on Tuesday, November 6. It is our civic duty and a perfect opportunity to begin to engage with the development process.

Chao Wu, Ph.D.

River Hill Representative to Columbia Council and Columbia Association Board of Directors

Email:  Website:



Chao Wu for BOE, final pitch before the general election

No endorsement is better than our voters’ trust. As an independent candidate and non-partisan election, I am asking for your support to vote for me during the 2018 Howard County Board of Education election.

It is you, our voters, by making a little bit of effort to understand the candidate’s background, experience, and vision for the school system, make an informed vote. Your vote is my endorsement.  With this belief in my heart, I won the primary in June with 15600 votes without any organizational endorsement.  I am looking for your continuous support.

Here are my main points:

  1. Keep an open mind. For many problems, people naturally have different views based on their personal experiences, background and priority. These diverse points of view will give us a great understanding why some problems seem easy, but are difficult to solve. From my life experience that I was educated and lived in multiple countries with diverse cultural, educational and racial background, I will be a champion on this. I will also be the independent voice on the board.
  2. Get the data right, the process transparent and the communication channel open. As a data scientist using machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms in my professional work, we need get the data right. We need try our best to have evidence-based and data-based analytic solutions for our problems.  With my advocacy on the board, I believe HCPSS can and should do better.
  3. Ask tough questions. When a board member asks questions, it is in general not an attack to our staff. It is the curiosity and responsibility of a board member to get the fact right and make an informed vote. This accountability will make our school system better, increase the trust of HCPSS from the general public.
  4. I have almost four-year experience as a board member on Columbia Association ( 80 million dollar yearly budget) board and have been an active volunteer in HCPSS.  The board experience and volunteer advocacy will serve HCPSS on day one. I will be a team player on the school board and together we will provide quality education to our students.

I will be your voice and you are my strength.

A Vote for Wu is a Vote for you.

Save the best for last.  ( My name is always shown at the last in the ballot)


CA sister city signing ceremony on September 10

Columbia to Sign Sister Cities Agreement with Liyang, China on September 10

The Sister Cities program “promotes peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation, one individual, one community at a time.” — Sister Cities International

Columbia Association will sign a Sister Cities Agreement with the Chinese city of Liyang, People’s Republic of China, on Monday, September 10 at Historic Oakland, 5430 Vantage Point Road, in Columbia. The Mayor of Liyang, Huaqin Xu, will be visiting Columbia with a delegation and will sign the agreement with CA President & CEO, Milton Matthews.

The search for a Chinese sister city began four years ago when members of the approximately 8,000-member, Chinese-American community in Howard County came to CA asking to partner with a sister city in China. They discussed eight Chinese cities as possibilities and decided on Liyang, which was seeking a sister city on the East Coast of the U.S. and is located in Jiangsu Province, a leader in education, tourism, technology and finance. Columbia and Liyang also share common concerns, such as high standards for education and preservation of green spaces. Located in southern China, 150 miles west of Shanghai, it is considered a small city by Chinese standards, with a population of 889,000. It joins cities in France, Spain, Ghana and Haiti as Columbia’s fifth sister city.

The relationship between Columbia and Liyang will allow residents to meet and explore each others’ cities for the mutual benefit and understanding of both. The Columbia/Liyang sister-city program will foster global engagement and peer-to-peer exchanges at every level — cultural, educational and municipal — resulting in travel abroad programs for youth and adults, artistic  and cultural exchanges, economic development and tourism promotion.

If you are interested in attending the signing ceremony with the Mayor of Liyang, Huaqin Xu, and his delegation, please contact Laura Smit at 410-715-3162 or email

To learn more about Liyang — what it looks like and what it has to offer the residents of Columbia, click here.


Superintendent Struggle Part 2

What is happening with our superintendents recently?

  1. Howard County Superintendent Renee Foose resigned with 1.6 million dollars’ package in 2017.
  2. Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance first resigned without any early notice and now was jailed for greed, bribery and lie in 2018.
  3. P.G. County Superintendent Kevin Maxwell retired with 800,000 package in 2018. Under his leadership, PG county systematically inflated student grades to meet graduation requirements.
  4. Montgomery County could not find a superintendent for a long time since 2015.

These four school systems are very large. The superintendent struggle probably tells us something unique to our school system. The Council of Great City Schools, which researches tenure, salaries and characteristics of school superintendents, found in a 2014 report that 3.2 years was the average tenure among superintendents in cities with populations of more than 250,000. Ref:

In order to prevent the superintendent position as a cash cow in the future, we need give the school board the authority to fire the superintendent. In my opinion, the firing needs a super majority, not a simple majority.  We need push our state legislatures to update our law.


2018 Transportation Overview of Columbia (The Villager 2018-08)

2018 Transportation Overview of Columbia

This article will be published on the August 2018 Issue of The Village of River Hill Village Association.

There has been a substantial effort to create a transportation network in Columbia to help our residents move around. In this Council Corner, I am outlining some efforts and policies which are shaping the implementation and discussion of our transportation status and outlook.

Stakeholders and Process

The County Executive (CE) takes charge of transportation implementation. Under CE’s leadership, with the help from the County Council, there are two county departments working on transportation matters: 1) Office of Transportation has the lead in planning, oversight, and bicycle, pedestrian, and transportation demand management; 2) Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Engineering handles capital projects and the Bureau of Highways focuses on traffic engineering and highway maintenance.

There are a variety advisory and advocacy groups which help formulate transportation policy and implementation: Bicycle Advisory Group, Transit & Pedestrian Advisory Group and Multimodal Transportation board, RTA Commission and Riders Advisory Council. Stakeholder groups include Bicycle Advocates of Howard County, Association of Community Services, Transportation Advocates of Howard County, as well as resident focused groups such as the village community associations.

PlanHoward 2030 (Council Bill 26-2012)

Transportation policy is guided by PlanHoward 2030. This document (Council Bill 26-2012) was passed in 2012 by the County Council as the general plan for Howard County for land use and land conservation and multiyear development planning for transportation, public facilities, water, sewerage, parkland, housing, human services and environmental protection; and generally relating to planning, zoning and land use. Specifically, the following three policies focus on transportation:

  1. POLICY 7.3 – Prioritize and pursue cost-effective, long-term capacity improvements to the road and highway network to support future growth in accordance with place type designations.
  2. POLICY 7.4 – Enhance the accessibility and quality of existing and future transit services.
  3. POLICY 7.6 – Reduce highway congestion, energy consumption, and greenhouse gases by increasing the number of residents using alternate modes of transportation

These policies provide the guidance for transportation decisions. The county government implements many projects with the help from the advisory groups. The state and federal government are also involved if the road is a state or federal road. I recommend everyone take some time to read PlanHoward 2030. This document will provide insight on why certain projects move forward separately from the changes made by developers.

Columbia Wide Effort

In Columbia, the focus is on four transportation modes: roads, transit, bicycle and pedestrian. There will be two main nodes: downtown Columbia and Gateway.

Howard County’s transportation planning unavoidably should think about the future: aging population, more population, self-parking cars, and autonomous and semi-autonomous cars. One recent exciting development is the concept of self-parking cars. They have already come to Columbia. A local company, STEER, is working with Merriweather District and Howard Hughes Corporation. A driver can exit a car at a destination and the car parks itself in a designated parking lot.

The county has a bus rapid transit plan to connect Route 29 in Howard County (six stops) from Route 40, to Montgomery County (2 stations). Route 29 has seen more traffic over the years and many of our county residents use it for daily commutes. The County government hopes the implementation of bus rapid transit will mitigate the traffic congestion problems on Route 29. In my own opinion a dedicated direct lane on Route 29 during rush hour will help mitigate the traffic problems too.

BikeHoward outlines the County’s vision to become a bicycle-friendly place where residents and visitors can bike as a means of daily transportation and healthy recreation. Right now, there is a 3-year implementation plan and the County is investing $8 million over 3 years and will provide a 48-mile connected network. This investment includes 14 miles of bike lanes, 20 miles of shared use pathway, and 14 miles of shared roadway improvements. There is a bike rental program called Howard County Bikeshare. You can join the program and rent bikes at several designated locations using a smart phone app.

There has been strong commitment from the county government and Columbia Association to provide a connected pedestrian network that safely and conveniently accommodates people of all ages and abilities. Recently Columbia Association established a trail steward program on our pathways in high-traffic areas. The stewards will educate and engage with pedestrians and encourage more people to use our pathways. With more people using the pathways, we hope to create a positive experience so that more people feel safer to use our pathways.

I believe these transportation improvements will create a better quality of life for the county’s residents.

Chao Wu, Ph.D.

River Hill Representative to Columbia Council and Columbia Association Board of Directors

Email: Website:

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.

The above photo is the Bike Share Program in front of the County Government.

Follow the law, simple and straightforward

I got the permission to post this letter from Stu Kohn, President of Howard County Citizen Association. As humble as an ordinary citizen, we just simply ask our County Council Members, who are making law for everyone in this county, to follow the law first.

Many people may remember the farce that the County Council passed APFO last winter and then they found out the legal time span to vote on the bill expired. How awkward and wrong!!!

They are not new council members. Four of five council members have been on the seats continuously for almost 12 years.  By the way, if our ordinary citizens do not pay attention, this probably continue to happen. On the hand side, if we go back to the last 12 years and examine those bills/resolutions passed before, we may find more violations.

I am not talking about the Erickson Senior Living project at all. Our River Hill Village Association Board had many discussions and sent our opinion to the DPZ already.

I am simply asking our elected County Council Members to follow the law.

Date:  16 July 2016

Subject:  CB59-2018 Erickson Proposal – Expansion of the PSA

Dear Council Members – My name is Stu Kohn and I am the President of the Howard County Citizens Association, HCCA testifying on their behalf.  This proposed Bill is not about any marketing on Erickson’s part or any campaign donations.  It is about the expansion of the Planned Service Area, PSA and only this.  Unfortunately the Planning Board did not adhere to this mandate announced by Val Lazdins, Director of DPZ when it was heard in April.  You will hear from other Associations that we are very infuriated we are even here to discuss CB59.  We should not be here.  This is because the Howard County – Code of Ordinances under TITLE 16 – PLANNING, ZONING AND SUBDIVISIONS AND LAND DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS, SECTION16.211 – COUNCIL MANIC ELECTION YEARS clearly states the following:

“In any year in which members of the County Council are elected, the incumbent Councilmembers, shall not take final action on any zoning application after the date of the primary election as set by law and until the newly elected County Councilmembers have qualified and taken office. The enactment of this section shall not in any way prevent the Zoning Board or the County Council from acting on zoning matters which are considered, in the discretion of the Council or the Board, to be emergency matters that could be injurious to the County or any of its citizens.”

There is absolutely no interpretation required as the aforementioned states you are not permitted to discuss any zoning changes during the specified period of time.  This is by all means a “Zoning Matter.”  Just refer to the contents of this Bill on page 1, lines 27-30.  It states, “WHEREAS, the proposed expansion of the Planned Service Area is a part of a specific zoning proposal to rezone the Property from RC-DEO to CEF-M for the stated purpose of providing a continuing care retirement community (“CCRC”) to consist of independent living units; assisted living; and skilled nursing care.” This clearly is a zoning change request!

 In fact you clearly state exactly this in the proposed CB56 which you all support on page 3, Lines 2 thru 4.  It states, “Because the County Council is prohibited from taking any Zoning action until January 2019, it is imperative that the County have sufficient time to consider and act on any recommendations concerning zoning changes in the Tiber Branch Watershed.” Furthermore you declared CB56 via a Resolution an Emergency situation.  So in order for CB59 an Emergency must be declared by this body via a Resolution before you even think about public testimony.  In addition, the sad thing is that CB59 and for that matter CR119 was not Pre-filed or Late-filed when you conducted your Legislative Hearing on 2 July.  Why not?  How was the public to be properly informed?  On the County Website regarding Pre-filed it states, “Legislation that will be introduced at the next legislative session is pre-filed 11 calendar days before that legislative session. During these 11 days, you will be able to view pre-filed legislation on this page.”  Where is the transparency? 

In conclusion you as Councilmembers have no choice but to tell the applicant that the Expansion of the PSA cannot be discussed by us because we would be wasting everyone’s time as we are not permitted to take final action because of an election year as stipulated in Title 16, Section 16.211.  If the applicate wants to pursue then it is incumbent for you to tell them their proposal will have to wait until at least January 2019.  We simply ask you to fulfill your duty as our representatives. 

Thank You,

 Stu Kohn

HCCA, President


Newly Proposed Affordable Housing of Robinson Overlook at River Hill

Newly Proposed Affordable Housing of Robinson Overlook at River Hill

This was presented to River Hill Village board on July 9th, 2018.

Tonight, the Wode Cooper Development, with the Howard County Housing Commission, is proposing 48 housing units at 7410 Grace Drive, Columbia, MD, 21044. The location is at the corner of Cedar Lane and Grace Drive, between Grace building and Robinson Nature Center. Note this is different from the Simpson Oaks’ development plan along Grace Drive uphill.

Woda Cooper Development (CJ Tyree), formed in 1990, have over 300 projects in 15 states. They build, own and manage properties. This project costs around 20 million dollars.

Howard County Housing Commission (Peter Engel) facilitated the development of around 800 affordable units in the county. This is their new project, partnering with Woda Copper.

Back-to-Back stacked units

48-unit rental townhouse/apartment

  1. 8: 1-bedroom (718sf)
  2. 19: 2-bedroom (962 sf)
  3. 21: 3-bedroom(1398 sf)
  4. Amenities include community room, computer lab, and tot lot.

Financing through low-income (62,000 a year income) housing tax credit, administered by Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

JC believe this stacked type of housing more appealing than apartment.

Mixed Income Structure

  1. 30% AMI targeted units = 9 . , annual salary of 20K for 1 bedroom
  2. 40% AMI targeted units = 6
  3. 50% AMI targeted units = 6
  4. 60% . AMI targeted units = 22
  5. Unrestricted income units = 5


  1. May 2018, submitted tax credit application
  2. August 2018, begin county entitlement process
  3. September 2018, receive tax credits
  4. July 2019, Receive building permits, begin construction
  5. August 2020, Complete construction
  6. December 2020, Complete leasing

Zoning 101 and Howard County Rezoning

The Columbia Association board took a three-hour zoning 101 lesson from Jeff Zyont this Saturday morning. I learned a lot.

ZONING 101 by Jeff Zyont

At the same time, Howard County is going to rewrite the zoning law. This change may have a huge impact to our county in the future. Attached is an assessment for our county’s zoning regulation.  More details could be found at

HoCo 2018 Rezoning assessment


CA Board Meeting Summary 2018-06-28

Chairman’s Remarks:

oncoming meetings for Columbia Association related

July 4, 2018

Fireworks at Lakefront

5:00 PM

July 7, 2018

Chrysalis Kids: Grandsons, Jr.

10:00 AM RR

July 8, 2018

CA’s Second Sunday Swim (free access with Columbia Card)

(See Pool Schedules)

July 12, 2018

CA Board work session

7:00 PM (note time change)

July 17, 2018

Volunteering Made Easy

6:00 PM RR

July 17, 2018

Columbia Solar Cooperative information session (OM)

7:00 PM

July 17, 2018

Aquatics Advisory Committee meeting (HR – see web site)

7:00 PM

July 19, 2018

Senior Advisory Committee meeting

2:30 PM

Resident Speakout:

Brian England, on behalf of Guilford Business Group, asked CA to join them to proceed commercial covenant enforcement, instead of waiting for the county rezoning process to be finished( the timeline for the county wide rezoning process is uncertain).

Chris Alleva, proposed a building alteration process. The process is for building alterations without a change of use to the Architectural Committee. Demolition of a building or in some circumstances a. change in use requires an amendment of the Final Development Plan, Comprehensive Plan and the Preliminary Development Plan. Amendments to these plans are reviewed under those provisions in the commercial and industrial architectural guidelines.

Ginger Scott: talked about flood damage on the Fairway Hill Golf Court, whether CA staff informed the board about the risk or not, recommended CA reevaluate the whole golf court area.

Board Action:

  1. The board sent board resolution indemnifying CA Team Members on the 401(k) Plan Investment Committee back to CA staff for further clarification. The board has concern of “gross negligence”.
  2. The board approved an updates to the Board Reimbursement Policy.
  3. The board approved resolution allowing Residents to Speak on Any Topic at Board Work Sessions.

Board Discussion:

  1. FY 2020 Draft Budget Schedule
  2. Two Closed Meetings related to Business Transaction