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Howard council delays decision on Clarksville Pike guidelines

An illustration from the final draft of the Clarksville Pike design guidelines imagines what the corridor could look like in the future.
An illustration from the final draft of the Clarksville Pike design guidelines imagines what the corridor could look like in the future. (Photo courtesy of Design Collective)

The Howard County Council voted on Monday to put on hold a decision on whether to adopt a set of design guidelines for Clarksville Pike.

Councilmembers unanimously tabled two bills related to the design plan, a 113-page document that creates standards for future buildings and streetscape design along a stretch of the pike from Guilford Road to Trotter Road.

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Architectural firm Design Collective and the county's Department of Planning and Zoning have been working on the guidelines for more than a year and have held several public meetings for input.

Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty, a Democrat who represents Clarksville, said the bill was tabled to give council members more time to look at the guidelines. In particular, she wants to reconsider whether the document should include improvements to the pike such as traffic lights and lane extensions, which were originally part of the plan.

Deputy planning director Raj Kudchadkar said last month that the county had decided to remove traffic improvements, which proved controversial within the community, from the guidelines so as not to prevent the rest of the design concepts from being implemented.

"When we were getting our community feedback, a lot of it had to do with safety on the road. That certainly didn't need to hold back the rest of the guidelines," he said at the time.

At the council's November public hearing, one resident, who had worked as a planner, testified that slowing down traffic along the pike was essential to creating the Main Street feel the design guidelines seek to create.

"You can't design for a road if you can't bring the speeds down," Sigaty said Monday. "We've heard some very compelling testimony about how the road needed to be included."

Both bills related to the guidelines will again be eligible for a vote early next month at the county's January voting session.

The council also elected new officers for 2016 Monday night. Councilman Calvin Ball, a Democrat from east Columbia, will serve as chairman, while Jon Weinstein, an Ellicott City Democrat, will be vice chair for his second year in a row.

Councilwoman Jen Terrasa, a Democrat who represents the southeast county, will chair the zoning board with Sigaty as vice chair, and Sigaty will chair the liquor board, with Councilman Greg Fox, a Republican from Fulton, as vice chair.

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