HoCo By Design, a long-range, visionary plan to shape development and conservation in Howard County through 2040, has entered its next phase following unanimous approval March 9 by the Howard County Planning Board.
The Howard County Council plans to hold multiple work sessions on the plan during the next few months, with public hearings scheduled into September, before voting in the fall. Dates and times can be found at https://cc.howardcountymd.gov/Calendar.
“I want to commend the Planning Board for its commitment to ensuring the next general plan provides sound guidance for the county’s land use decisions over the next decade,” Amy Gowan, director of the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning, said in a news release. “The board provided a thoughtful and well-informed recommendation of approval.”
Once each decade, Howard County updates its general plan that guides land-use decisions. The current plan, PlanHoward2030, was adopted in 2013.
HoCo By Design establishes an overall plan and recommended actions important to current and future land use, growth, development, and conservation in the county during the next 20 years. It also gives guidance for the county’s capital construction budget, as well as zoning, and land development regulations.
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HoCo By Design planning started in 2020. The planning board spent the past three years gathering community input and analyzing data, the news release states.
During a March 9 public hearing, the board heard two primary concerns from residents – providing enough affordable housing and avoiding school overcrowding, according to a Department Planning and Zoning document. As a result, the board recommended that 25% of units in new housing developments be set aside for affordable housing. Board members also recommended that any future development of affordable housing be dispersed around the county to avoid concentration in one area.
“The presentation of the plan was very thorough and everything that was possible to be addressed, was,” Planning Board Vice Chairman Kevin McAliley said in the news release. “Of particular importance is the people who work here and can’t live here. We need to be able to house them.”
Regarding school overcrowding, the board said that the county’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance Task Force should address and evaluate concerns. The ordinance is a county tool to manage growth by analyzing a proposed development’s impact on public infrastructure such schools and roads. The task force is scheduled to meet after the council’s adoption of HoCo By Design later this year.
“Our HoCo By Design plan is the product of a comprehensive public engagement strategy that engaged a broad spectrum of our community, including historically under-represented populations,” Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said in the news release. “To inform this transformational plan, the Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) conducted historic community engagement with nearly 100 community meetings and received more than 12,000 comments from participants across our county.
“HoCo By Design also identifies numerous policies that will advance a more equitable and inclusive future for all county residents,” he said.
To learn more, go to https://www.hocobydesign.com/.