Howard County Executive Ken Ulman Tuesday accepted the first ever Smart Growth Community Award from the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission recognizing the county's Downtown Columbia Plan.
The plan is a 30-year master plan for evolving and renovating Columbia's Town Center and was one of two public projects recognized.
"Columbia was founded to be one of the premier planned communities in the country," Ulman said in a statement. "The plan that we have put so much effort into since 2005 makes sure that Downtown Columbia lives up to that reputation and transforms it to meet the needs of the future. That means green, sustainable and responsible growth. The quality of the Downtown Columbia Plan is more than evident as we begin to see the intital projects taking shape at the mall and the lakefront and set the stage for a great future for Downtown Columbia."
At its first annual Sustainable Growth Forum, the commission recognized the Downtown Columbia Plan for achievements in all of its “twelve visions” – Quality of life and sustainability, public participation, growth areas, community design, infrastructure, transportation, housing, economic development, environmental protection, resource conservation, stewardship and implementation.
Jon Loria, chair of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, said the plan embodies smart growth principles that the commission has been promoting throughout the state.
"It transforms Jim Rouse's 1960 suburban vision of Columbia into a 21st century walkable, urban center where people live, work, shop and be entertained," he said in a statement.
Approved by the Howard County Council in February of 2010, the Plan will guide mixed-use development of 5,500 residential units, 1.25 million square feet of retail space and 4.3 million square feet of commercial development including 600 hotel rooms.
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