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Howard planning and zoning department launches virtual town hall

Screenshot of the new EngageHoward website
(EngageHoward website)

Howard County's Department of Planning and Zoning has an answer for community members who are too busy to show up to share their input at public meetings.

The department announced early this week that it has launched an "interactive online resource" called EngageHoward, a sort of virtual town hall that encourages residents to make suggestions and propose ideas about a rotating selection of topics.

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"We know our residents and business owners are busy, and not everyone can attend public meetings," County Executive Ken Ulman said in a statement accompanying the announcement. "We want to have more people involved in the public dialogue. EngageHoward is a way for people to contribute on their own schedule, and offer input on the planning issues that matter to them."

The first topic for the town hall, which is accessible 24/7, will be to name the parking lots in Ellicott City's historic district. Currently, the lots are identified by letters, A through F, a system that County Council member Courtney Watson said was "not memorable" and "not telling visitors about this special place."

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The input process for naming the lots will last about eight weeks, according to the county. The suggestions will then be assembled by DPZ staff and presented to the next county executive for consideration.

"We think the community will have fun and get 'engaged' with this topic," Marsha McLaughlin, director of the Department of Planning and Zoning, said in a statement. "With its history, architecture and natural beauty, Ellicott City offers plenty of inspiration. We look forward to seeing the great ideas community members will offer."

A sign-up page for EngageHoward is located at http://engagehoward.mindmixer.com.

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