Howard County Times
Howard County

Howard County honing HoCo By Design to shape long-term development

Howard County officials are working to develop a long-range, visionary plan called HoCo by Design that will detail development and conservation in the county through the year 2040.


Once each decade, Howard County updates its general plan that guides land-use decisions. The current plan, PlanHoward2030, was adopted in 2012.

The document establishes an overall plan and recommended actions relevant to current and future needs of the county.


“Howard County is reaching a critical inflection point,” said Mark Miller, administrator with Howard County’s public information office. “High demand for new housing and commercial growth, paired with a need to ensure affordable and attainable housing for all who want to live and work in the county, is challenged by limited supply of undeveloped, greenfield land.

“Today, 98% of the county’s land supply is either already developed, committed for development, or preserved via open space, agricultural, or other type of easement — leaving just 2% of land available for traditional greenfield development,” Miller stated. “Therefore, redevelopment will be necessary to accommodate future homes and businesses and to continue to enjoy Howard County’s economic success and high quality of life.”

HoCo By Design guides future development regulations capital budgets and more targeted initiatives, he stated.

HoCo by Design planning started in 2020.

Parts of the plan were released to the public in March, May and June. More will be released late this summer or early fall, Miller said.

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“The planning process ... has included an unprecedented amount of community engagement,” Miller stated. “Each major milestone offered numerous and unique opportunities for the public to provide feedback, including surveys, focus groups, virtual workshops and online mapping activities.

“Over the past five months we released four of the five major planning theme chapters for public review and input,” he said. “After release of the fifth chapter [County in Motion], we plan to release the entire draft plan, anticipated for late fall/winter 2022, with council adoption process in early 2023.”


HoCo By Design will have a similar approach to development, economic growth and preservation as PlanHoward 2030.

“To sustain the economic growth that Howard County has enjoyed in the past, the county must continue to invest in housing, infrastructure, place-making and preservation – elements that make the county a desirable place for a diversity of businesses and people to live, work and recreate,” Miller said.

For more information on the plan, go to