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Clarksville design guidelines head to Howard council for approval

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 final draft of a set of design guidelines for Clarksville Pike is headed to the Howard County Council this month.

The 113-page document lays out standards for future buildings and streetscape design along a stretch of the pike from Guilford Road to Trotter Road. The plan, developed by the county's Department of Planning and Zoning in conjunction with architectural firm Design Collective, is the culmination of more than a year of public input and revisions.

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Councilmembers take it up next for a vote. Two bills related to the design guidelines are expected to be introduced at a voting session Monday night at 7 p.m.

If the plan is approved, it will be used as the guiding document for the county's Design Advisory Panel, an appointed committee that evaluates development plans for downtown Columbia, Route 1, Route 40 and other areas of the county targeted for redevelopment.

Development in Clarksville is expected to bring nearly 500 new single family homes, 100 apartment units and some 120,000 square feet of retail space in the next decade or so, according to a forecast presented earlier this year. The goal of the design guidelines is to create a corridor that's "sustainable, pedestrian-oriented and attractive" and that has a Main Street feel along the busiest, mostly commercial section of the pike, according to the final draft of the guidelines.

The plan includes a vision for multi-use paths shared by pedestrians and bicyclists and bicycle racks along the pike to encourage alternate modes of transportation. Future buildings are imagined closer to the street, to create a more "dynamic" atmosphere similar to downtown Bethesda.

The plan's design guidelines emphasize sustainability, while also recommending that the architecture retain the corridor's traditional look of stone and brick facades.

The final draft of the guidelines does not suggest road improvements, which had been discussed in earlier versions of the plan. A 2014 traffic study by Sabra, Wang & Associates warned of worsening congestion along the corridor and recommended a second eastbound lane between Linden Linthicum Road and River Hill High School and an extension of the five-lane portion of the pike west to Guilford Road and east to Sheppard Lane.

Raj Kudchadkar, deputy director of the planning and zoning department, said the county would continue to look into traffic improvements independently of the design guidelines.

"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.

The complete design guidelines are posted online at howardcountymd.gov/DPZ.

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